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This discussion is reprinted from the first issue of Beacon Lights, January, 1941. It asks and answers some very important questions about creeds and confessions that we must know. This discussion is continued in the four installments of Beacon Lights following January 1941. You can see them at beaconlights.org. A couple of typing mistakes found in the original are corrected in brackets [ ].

Questions

  1. What are Standards or Confessions?
  2. Should a church have Confessions? What is their value and purpose?
  3. Do Confessions have the same authority as Scripture?
  4. Do they not bind the conscience of the Christian?
  5. Can Confessions be altered? In what way?
  6. Which are the Standards of the Reformed Churches?
  7. What is the difference between the Christian Reformed and the Protestant Reformed Churches as to their Confessions?
  8. What is the meaning of the word Canon?
  9. What was the occasion of the formulation of these Canons of Dordrecht?
  10. What are Pelagians? Arminians? Remonstrants ? Contra-Remonstrants?
  11. How many chapters do the Canons contain? What is the subject of each?
  12. What do you understand by divine predestination? By election? By reprobation?
  13. Can you prove the doctrine of election from the Bible? Reprobation?
  14. Why does chapter I begin with a statement of the sin of all men in Adam? See art. 1.
  15. What, according to this first article is the standpoint of the Canons, Supra- or Infra-lapsarian?
  16. Of what does art. 2 speak?
  17. Can men be saved outside of the sphere of the preaching of the gospel?
  18. To whom is the gospel preached? See art 3.
  19. Why is the gospel preached to all men? Why not only to the elect?
  20. What distinction is caused by the preaching of the gospel? See art. 4.
  21. What is the significance of the preaching of the gospel for the reprobate unbeliever?
  22. Are children also saved by means of the preaching of the gospel if they die before the age of discretion?
  23. What does it mean to receive and embrace Christ? See art. 4.
  24. Whose is the guilt of unbelief? Whence is the gift of faith? See art. 5.
  25. Why do some receive the gift of faith, others not? See art. 5.

Answers

  1. Standards or Confessions (creeds, rule of faith, symbol) are comprehensive formulas, expressing with ecclesiastical authority what a church or group of churches believes to be the truth of the Word of God. They are called standards or symbols, because they are criteria of what is taught and confessed in the church or churches uniting around them; and because they declare publicly the faith of that church or those churches. They are called Creeds or Confessions from the viewpoint that their contents are the object of the faith of the church.
  2. A church should have standards or confessions, chiefly because it is the calling of the church as well as of the individual Christian to confess the name of Christ and the truth as it is in Jesus and to preserve the truth in generations even over against every attack of error and false doctrine.

Their value and purpose:

  1. As summaries of the truth revealed in Scripture they are an aid to the understanding of the Word of God.
  2. They preserve the labor of the church of the past in expounding the Scriptures under the guidance of the Spirit.
  3. They are a basis and bond of union among believers and churches that subscribe to them.
  4. They are a means for the instruction of the children of the church in sound doctrine.
  5. Their purpose is to declare unto the world the faith of the church and preserve the church from error.
  6. They certainly do not have the same authority as Scripture. Scripture has original and absolute authority; confessions have derived authority, i.e. only as they are in harmony with Scripture and relative, i.e. it is admitted that a standard or creed may be changed and expanded, according as the church gains a fuller insight in the Scriptures.
  7. This is the indictment brought against creeds by all their opponents, such as Unitarians, Socinians, Quakers and Rationalists. They claim that creeds interfere with the free interpretation of the Bible and bind the conscience of the believer by the doctrines and institutions of men.

This would be true if the creed is placed above Scripture instead of being subordinated to it; and if subscription to creeds were not the free choice and act of every believer. Any Christian is at any time at full liberty, should his conscience so dictate in the light of the Word of God to break with a creed, which implies that he breaks with the church professing the same.

  1. Confessions certainly can be altered and often are altered, either because the church develops and grows in the knowledge of the truth, or because the faith of the church must be defended against new errors that arise.

The alteration must be based on the Word of God. If it is not it is a corruption.

The alteration may be suggested or requested in the regular ecclesiastical way by an individual member or group of members.

The alteration must be officially approved and adopted by the largest representative gathering of the church.

The alteration even so must be submitted to approval or tacit acquiescence by the members of the church.

  1. The standards of the Reformed churches are: The Heid. Catechism, The Netherland or Belgic Confession [, and The Canons] of Dordrecht.
  2. The difference between the Christian Reformed Churches and the Protestant Reformed Churches with respect to their Confessions is, that the [latter] merely acknowledge the Three Forms of Unity, the [former], since 1924 have added Three Points of doctrine to the Reformed Confessions, which are essentially corruptions of the Reformed Symbols.
  3. The meaning of the word Canon is rule. Applied to a Confession it is a rule of faith, or of the truth. This is, therefore the meaning in the title: Canons of Dordrecht.
  4. The occasion of the formulation of the Canons of Dordrecht was the teaching of James Arminius and his followers in the last part of the sixteenth and the first part of the seventeenth century, which implied a denial of the truth of predestination and related doctrines.
  5. Pelagians are followers of Pelagius, a heretic of the fifteenth century, who taught that man has a free will to do good by nature, denying original sin and total depravity.

Arminians are followers of Arminius of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who taught that God’s election and reprobation depended on foreseen faith and unbelief and related errors.

The Arminians of the sixteenth century are called Remonstrants because a representative group of them in 1610 drew up a document which they called a remonstrance, in which they briefly set forth their belief in five formulas of doctrine.

Contra-remonstrants is a name applied to the Reformed fathers of the sixteenth century, because they formally answered and opposed the Remonstrants.

  1. The Canons contain five chapters, as follows :
  2. Of divine predestination.
  3. Of the death of Christ and the redemption of men thereby.

III-IV. Of the Corruption of man, his conversion to God and the manner thereof.

  1. Of the perseverance of the saints.
  2. Predestination is God’s eternal counsel with respect to the eternal destiny of his rational-moral creatures; men and angels.

Election is God’s sovereign, eternal, and gracious decree to ordain and save some to eternal glory in Christ and in the way of faith.

Reprobation is God’s sovereign, eternal and righteous decree to ordain some to eternal damnation as punishment for their sin.

  1. Election: Rom. 8:29, 20; Eph. 1:3, 4, 11; II Tim. 1:9; II Thess. 2:13-15; John 6:37, 39, 65; 10:27-30; Rom. 9:15, 16, 23.

Reprobation: Prov. 16:4; John 10:26; Rom. 9:17, 21, 22; I Pet. 2:8.

Both: Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:13, 16, 18.

  1. Because the Canons present the doctrine of election as the decree of God according to which he chose some to eternal life out of the fallen human race. It is the purpose of the Canons to maintain that God could righteously do so, because he might have left all in their sin. It follows, that the doctrine of reprobation is presented as meaning that God left others in their sin.
  2. It is evident, then, even from this first article, that the standpoint of the Canons is Infra-lapsarian.

Infra- and Supra-lapsarian are two views, both acknowledged to be Reformed, of the decree of Predestination. The terms are derived from the Latin: supra, i.e. above, infra, i.e. below and lapsus, i.e. fall. By these terms is expressed, that predestination is before the decree of creation and the decree of the fall. The order in the decree is, therefore, as follows: 1. Gods determination to glorify himself. 2. Predestination, i.e. the decree to glorify himself in vessels of honor and vessels of dishonour. 3. Creation, i.e. the decree to create all things good. 4. The decree of the fall.

Infra-lapsarianism presents the order as follows: 1. God’s determination to glorify himself. 2. The decree of creation. 3. the decree of permitting the fall. 4. The decree of predestination.

Although the Canons proceed from the Infra-lapsarian viewpoint, the Supra-lapsarian view was never condemned and always acknowledged to be Reformed.

Better it is to proceed from the question, what in God’s decree is purpose or end, and what is means unto that purpose or end. Then we have the following order in God’s decrees: 1. God determined to glorify himself. 2. He predestined the church in Christ. 3. He predestined the reprobate to serve the realization of the church, as chaff must serve the wheat. 4. He ordained all things in heaven and on earth to serve the realization of election and reprobation.

  1. Article 2 speaks of the manifestation of the love of God in the sending of his Son into the world, for the salvation of them that believe. Notice, that the Canons approach the doctrine of election from the viewpoint of the salvation of believers. The following is the line it follows: a. Man is fallen. b. God will save them that believe in his Son. c. He calls to faith by the gospel, d. He gives the faith to whom he wills. e. He wills to give faith to the elect only.
  2. There is no Scriptural ground for the position of some, that even in the heathen world, outside of the sphere of the preaching of the gospel, there is salvation. We may surely believe, that God will send his gospel wherever there are his people. The apostles were sometimes forbidden to preach the gospel in a certain place while in other places they must labor for some time, because God had much people in the place.
  3. The gospel is preached to whom God wills. For it is God that prepares the field for the preaching of the gospel; it is God that prepares his church to preach the gospel; it is God, too, that in due time prepares men and calls them to preach the gospel. After all, it is Christ that gathers his church.
  4. The gospel is not preached to all men. In fact, there are comparatively but a few that ever hear the gospel. Ultimately it must be preached to all nations, but it need not be preached to every individual. The reason undoubtedly is, that the gospel must be preached only in those places and at that time, where and when God has his elect in such places. Nevertheless, the gospel is not to be preached only to the elect, even if this were possible. The reason is, that God wills that also some reprobates shall hear the gospel, that sin may become fully manifest as sin.
  5. The distinction between those that believe and have eternal life; and those that do not believe and are hardened. A distinction that must ultimately lead to the conflict of Christ and Antichrist.
  6. The significance of the preaching of the gospel for the reprobate unbeliever is: a. That it reveals the perverseness of his sinful nature. b. That it hardens him in sin. c. That it aggravates his guilt. d. That it makes his condemnation heavier.
  7. Children are not saved through the preaching of the gospel, if they die before the age of discretion. Regeneration in the narrower sense is immediate.
  8. There is a difference between receiving the gospel of Christ and embracing him. Receiving him rather looks at the matter from the viewpoint of that act of Christ whereby he imparts himself to us and he prepares a place for himself in our hearts. Embracing or accepting him rather looks at it from the viewpoint of the activity of saving-faith, whereby we appropriate him as our personal Redeemer.
  9. Unbelief is sin. Of all sin, also of the sin of unbelief man is the author. He will not come to Christ, because he is wholly depraved. For the same reason, faith is solely the gift of God. No man would believe unless God would work the power of faith in him.
  10. This is solely to be attributed to God’s sovereign election and reprobation. No other considerations enter in. It is on this point that Reformed people radically differ from all others. Only when this is maintained can absolute predestination be accepted as the truth.

January 2 Read Psalm 26:1-7

Here David asks God to judge his works in his walk of sanctification in this life. When we read through the first five verses, we might think that David is boasting in his own works. But then in verses 6 and 7, we see the reason for the request. David wishes to approach the house of God and to speak of God’s goodness to others with a clean heart and clean hands. Is this our desire? Are we looking to speak of God’s goodness to others? Are we willing to walk in his law daily? This must be our desire as the way to show thanksgiving for our salvation. The first 5 verses are a road map to right living. May they be our guide every day. Sing Psalter 69.

January 3 Read Psalm 26:8-12

As David finishes this Psalm, he expresses his devotion for God’s house. We know from both history and other Psalms that this was not an occasional desire. David often makes note of the fact that he wants to be in God’s house. He had to be content that God, in his counsel, would have his son build the temple. Is our chief desire the house of God? Do we look forward for every Sunday service with great anticipation? We, like David, need to pray the prayer found in these verses. We, like David, need to live with the same desire for God’s house. David knew that God’s house on earth was only temporary. We must look for the same eternal dwelling that David did. We must live the same life filled with the desire and devotion for God’s house on this earth and in heaven. Sing Psalter 70.

January 4 Read Psalm 27:1-6

This is a Psalm of faith that can be confessed by any believer at any time. To have a God who is our light, our salvation, and the strength of our life gives to us utmost peace and a freedom from fear in our lives. David was faced with many foes and many fears. He had to remember, like we do, to go to his God. He realized that when he was in trouble he could not forget God’s house. Is this our reaction in our troubles? Do we tend to “miss” church when we have problems? That is the worst thing we can do, for in church is the only place of refuge. We do not hide from our problems there, but we find the answers for them there. When we find those solutions, then we need to praise the name of him whose mercies endure forever. Sing Psalter 71.

January 5 Read Psalm 27:7-14

Even though we are reading the last 8 verses of this beautiful and comforting Psalm, we are only going to look at verses 7-10. These verses are a sincere prayer from the heart. Do we pray it? Do we pray it often? Do we seek God’s face in all that we do? For us we can find that face in the Bible. We can find it in the preaching of the Word. In seeking that face in these ways, we can be assured that God will not hide it from us. We can also know that he will stay with us no matter what circumstances of life come upon us. We need to seek his face in the confidence that he will care for us forever. Sing Psalter 72.

January 6 Psalm 27:7-14

As we finish this beautiful Psalm, let us turn our attention to verse 14. The Psalmist has thanked God for all of the goodness that God has given to him through all of the trials that he has faced. Now he asks for patience. This is not an easy virtue for the child of God. We are apt to wish “to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” We must learn to wait on God to provide for us solutions to all our trials. As evidenced throughout David’s life as well as our own, God always provides for his people. Often it seems like God is “too slow.” We need to pray for the needed patience to wait on Jehovah for all things in his time. Sing Psalter 73.

January 7 Read Psalm 28:1-5

Here we have a passionate prayer from the pen of David. Are we this passionate in prayer? Do we pray for spiritual help from our God, or are we focused on some physical need? While both are definitely matters for prayer, we often forget to pray for spiritual aid. We also see him praying for help against the wicked who oppress him. Do we have this experience? Should we have this experience? We also need to make sure that we do not become as the wicked. The works of Jehovah are precious; let us regard them and hold them precious in our lives. Let us pray, and let us pray without ceasing. Sing Psalter 75.

January 8 Read Psalm 28

To end his prayer, David gives thanks because Jehovah has heard his prayer. He again reiterates his trust in the Almighty. He not only gives thanks in prayer but also in song. These are the two chief means of thankfulness that we have to thank our God for all of the blessings that he has bestowed upon us. Do we use these means? Do we pray each day and often throughout the day for the salvation given to us by grace alone? When we have the opportunity to use music, do we do it? Do we sing the songs of Zion as lustily as we can? I often see the very young singing with all of their might. I often see the elderly sing with whatever strength that is left in their frail bodies. What about those of us in-between? Do we use our strength to praise God at all times? Let the words of this Psalm be our praise and our prayer. Sing Psalter 75.

January 9 Read Psalm 29

Do you hear the voice of Jehovah? He calls in many ways. We can hear him peacefully calling us in the myriad of stars that shine down upon us from on high. We can hear him in the roar of the wind as it whistles past our homes by day or night. We can hear him in the crash of thunder and the lightning’s flash. He speaks loudly in the storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes that seem to increase in number. What is he saying to us? First of all, the Psalm says he calls us to worship. We are to worship him in the beauty of holiness. Secondly, the Psalmist tells us that he is conferring upon us strength and peace. Let us worship daily giving thanks for the strength to live in this world which will soon experience his second coming. Let us worship daily giving thanks for the peace that is ours through Christ Jesus. Sing Psalter 76.

January 10 Read Psalm 30:1-6

David looks back at the wars that he has fought and won with God’s help to enable him to establish his throne in Jerusalem. Some of the time as he was fighting, he thought death was very near. Think of being in Saul’s throne room and the javelins that went whistling by his head. His response to becoming king is to sing and realize that the joy that was his was spiritual joy afforded to him by his covenant God. May we, too, live this life in the realization that it is God who gives to us what we need. It is God who cares for us in all things. May we, too, say that in God we shall never be moved. Sing Psalter 78.

January 11 Read Psalm 30:7-12

There are times in our lives that it appears that God has turned from us. It may be that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It may be that in his counsel he has willed a trial in order to strengthen our faith. It may be something for which we can find no reason. What will our reaction be? Will we turn from him? If we do, we will be sorely tried. He is our refuge and the rock of our strength. If God be truly gone from us, and that will never happen, we are dead, and the dead cannot praise God. No, God will turn to us. He will show us the way once more. Let us give thanks for all of his goodness now as this is the way that we will be able to eternally give thanks in heaven. God will have mercy upon his people; he will help them in all situations. He is God. Sing Psalter 79.

January 12 Read Psalm 31:1-8

In this Psalm of David we have a prayer which proceeds out of David’s faith. Faith in God is necessary for us to pray. If we do not have the true knowledge of God and the hearty confidence in him, we will not pray in confidence. David is concerned about his spiritual life. This we see in verse 5, which words are also the words our Savior used as he hung dying on the cross for our souls. We need to go to God in prayer often every day. We need to do this by faith, for how else can we pray? We need to ask God to preserve our soul until the day that he takes it to heaven. Let us turn to him in prayer now and often each day. Sing Psalter 80:1-6

January 13 Read Psalm 31:9-18

In the first part of this Psalm, David recounts some of the troubles in which he found himself in his life. These were troubles from both outside Israel as well as inside Israel. When things looked the darkest, he speaks these words of verses 14 and 15. Do we trust in Jehovah to deliver us out of troubles? Do we confess that our times are in his hands all of the time? We must never hesitate to go to God in prayer for help in times of trouble. We can know that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” This confession of Paul, who faced many of the same troubles as David did, can be and should be ours. Let us call upon our God daily and in all situations of life. Sing Psalter 80:7-12.

January 14 Read Psalm 31:19-24.

Here is a portion of Scripture that makes you want to read it over and over. In fact its words are so comforting that really we do not need to add ours to it. In verse 19 David proclaims God’s goodness. How often are we not exposed to that goodness in our lives? How often are we not guilty of the error of verse 22? We speak in haste about many things, but speaking in haste about God’s supposed lack of care in our lives is most damaging. He hears us! What a blessing and comfort that is!. Finally let us love him, and let us trust in him with our whole beings. He does care for us, and he will be with us at all times. Go back and read this section again, and then pray for God’s care in your life. Sing Psalter 81.

January 15 Read Psalm 32:1-5

Sometimes when we read this Psalm we forget about how it begins. We are so busy commiserating and empathizing with David in his sin, that we forget that the first word is blessed. This Psalm speaks of confession and forgiveness that only belongs to the child of God. We find in this Psalm the three parts of the Heidelberg Catechism: guilt, grace, and gratitude. When we continue in our sins, we never get to the last two parts. If we have no knowledge of our sin and Savior, we will never find comfort. But the child of God is blessed in the way of confession. He is blessed because he does obtain forgiveness. Blessed means happy. The only way to true happiness is confession. Let us confess our sins to each other and especially to our God. Sing Psalter 83.

January 16 Read Psalm 32:6-11

After confessing his sin and being forgiven by our gracious heavenly Father, David reiterates his trust in Jehovah. He knows that even though he has sinned grievously, God will not cast him off. God will care for him in all troubles. David knows that he must pass these truths on to those around him. We, too, must never hide the trust that we find in God. We must instruct others. Our instruction must contain the mercy of God and the command to rejoice in Jehovah. David starts with prayer and ends with singing. Do we make these two parts of thankfulness ours? Sing Psalter 84.

January 17 Read Psalm 33:1-11

As you walk around this earth, do you look at it to see reasons why you should praise Jehovah? As verses 4-11 point out there are many of those reasons. Here is another of those portions of Scripture that those who are anti-creation need to remove from their Bibles. The Psalmist extols the greatness and the power of God in making all things. As we see the creation, whether it be the world of animals, plants, or nonliving creatures, we should be incited to praise Jehovah. What else can you do when you see a beautiful starry night, a majestic whitetail deer, a brilliant hibiscus, or the strength of the mountains? In all of those things we can see some of God’s attributes for which he must be praised by us. Look around you and praise Jehovah. Sing Psalter 85.

January 18 Read Psalm 33:12-22

God sees us. What a wonderful and blessed truth this is! He sees us in all of our needs and cares, and he cares for all of our needs. The child of God can go through life with this as his confidence. God not only sees us, but he sees all man. He sees what man does to his children, and by his mercy cares for us. Sometimes we have to wait for our help and shield. This waiting is in God’s time, not ours. God’s longsuffering makes all things work out in his time for our good . Let us wait and let us rejoice because his mercy will give to us hope in all situations of life. Sing Psalter 86.

January 19 Read Psalm 34:1-10

As David penned this Psalm, he was away from his beloved Israel. He had been chased out by Saul. He had attempted to make his own way in Philistia, and when that had failed he realized that his only help was in Jehovah. God answered his cry for help as we read in the first few verses. He then realized that God cares for his people in whatever situation they might find themselves. We need to learn from this Psalm two lessons. First of all, we need to pray often unto our heavenly Father. We can pray in confidence that he will hear our prayers and care for us. Secondly, we must know that God cares for his people at all times. It may not seem like it at times, but even as he cares for the sparrow, he cares for all of the saints. Let us pray knowing that God will give to us all that is necessary for both body and soul. Sing Psalter 88.

January 20 Read Psalm 34:11-22

David not only wants Israel to hear his instruction about the way of the Lord; he wants all of Israel, including its covenant seed, to hear about that blessed way. Our children need to learn at a very young age about the goodness of Jehovah. And then they need to continue learning about that goodness each year until they reach the years of discretion. They need to hear about God in all his ways. In this way they will be able to take up their place in the church militant. In this way they will have knowledge about he who will deliver them out of all and any kind of trouble. Many of life’s experiences are outlined in this Psalm. Young people, take the time to read it over again. Parents and grandparents, show these words unto them often. Sing Psalter 89.

January 21 Read Psalm 35:1-10

Some commentators say that this Psalm and the previous one form a pair and are written about the same subject. That subject would be David’s persecution at the hands of King Saul. It seems from the text that this might be true. It is a beautiful confession of faith of the child of God that we would do well to take upon our lips. Look at verses 2, 3, and 9 once more. Would we be able to take them upon our lips in times of trouble? Do we even think about God in those times except to blame him for our situation? Yet, David calls upon his soul to be joyful and to sing in the way of salvation that Jehovah has wrought for him. Let us read and mediate these words in order that we may know what should be our thoughts in time of troubles. Sing Psalter 92: 1-3.

January 22 Read Psalm 35:11-16

Pride or humility: each of us exhibits one of those two characteristics. Sometimes we fall deeply into the sin of pride. We are called to exhibit humility like our elder Brother Christ Jesus as he left his throne in heaven and came to earth to die for our sins. David, in the face of his enemies, as a type of Christ, exhibited this grace. He treated his enemies as his friend or brother. Do we do this? We need to pray for the grace to be humble in all situations in life. May God grant to us this grace each day of our lives. Sing Psalter 92:4-6.

January 23 Read Psalm 35:17-28

There are two themes in this section of Scripture. First of all, David petitions God for relief from those who strive against him. David realizes that his struggles against the wicked will prove fruitless unless God is on his side. Therefore he asks for help. He does this on the basis of the righteousness that God has wrought within David. Secondly, David promises to speak and sing of this righteousness and praise God daily and even hourly. It is God who deserves this praise and not David himself. May we, too, go to God in prayer daily for deliverance from evil doers. May we vow to praise Jehovah in the congregation of his people. Sing Psalter 92:7-8.

January 24 Read Psalm 36

There are two doctrinal truths that can be illustrated in this text. First of all, there is the doctrine of election and reprobation. David clearly shows that there are two classes of people in this world. In the first four verses and the last one and a half we clearly see the wicked and their ways. In between those verses, David shows God’s love for his people. Secondly, we find many of those qualities that show to us who God is. These qualities are his attributes. Some are communicable such as mercy, faithfulness, lovingkindness, and others. Others are incommunicable like his omnipresence found in verse 5. These qualities give to us great comfort. And as we walk in their light, we will see light upon our paths. May we know him, for to know him is to have eternal life. Sing Psalter 93.

January 25 Read Psalm 37:1-7

Can you find the seven commands in this passage of Scripture? They are seven ways to find true peace in this world of disorder and sin. We tend to look around us and become nervous and dismayed at what we see and hear. The antidote for this malady is found in these verses and summed up in verse 7. “Rest in the Lord.” When we realize that there is no comfort or solutions to be found in the world around us, we must rest in Jehovah. When we realize that we are not going to make it doing it our way, we need to commit our way unto our covenant God who gives to us delight and affords us the trust that we need. Finally, let us not worry about the wicked, but rather let us wait patiently for our God to care for us. Sing Psalter 95.

January 26 Read Psalm 37:8-17

Two more commands are present in the first verse of this section of Psalm 37. How many of us are prone to anger at almost any happening in our lives? We are quick to be angry at what we perceive to be injustice to us or to someone we love. We are told in the catechism that anger is sin against the sixth commandment. We need to know that God is in control of all things, and that he will vindicate any evil done to us. Secondly, we must realize that in this life God will also take care of our physical needs. It is hard for most of us to think of being poor. But the righteous poor are cared for by our heavenly Father who watches even the birds of the field. Let us go forward in life in love toward God and our neighbor. Sing Psalter 96.

January 27 Read Psalm 37:18-24

As we enter winter in the Northern Hemisphere, we can see the truth of verse 24. Sometimes we slip and fall on the ice. That fall sometimes may cause a broken bone. Yet we can pick ourselves up or be picked up and know that God has sustained us. God cares for his people, and even though the wicked seem to be prospering, we can have the assurance that our covenant God sees our needs and cares for them. We can show mercy to others only because he is merciful towards us. Let us be thankful that God cares for us at all times, and let us give thanksgiving in prayer for that care. Sing Psalter 97.

January 28 Read Psalm 37:25-33

In this section of reasons why we must be thankful at all times, we find verse 27. Here we have another of those commands. We are to depart from evil and do good. Evil is all around us; we might wonder how we can get away from it, but yet David tells us to leave it. This is a guide that should guide us in all areas of our lives. Secondly, he tells us to do good. We have many opportunities to do good. We will find more of them when we depart from evil. The section closes with beautiful words of comfort. God will never leave his children. He will care for them in all situations. Let us be thankful now and every day until Christ returns for such gracious care. Sing Psalter 98.

January 29 Psalm 37:34-40

As we finish this Psalm there are two ideas to which we should pay attention. First of all is another command. In verse 37 we have the word “wait.” This is used in several places in Scripture. Waiting is a virtue that may of us have in short supply. We do not want to wait. We are of the now generation. But yet the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist commands us to wait on the Lord. We need to learn that his times are best. Secondly, we need to keep in the forefront of our thoughts that salvation is of the Lord alone. We like the idea of “pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps.” But we need to remember one of main themes of the Reformation namely that salvation is from God alone. This virtue is related to waiting. As we go through this life let us wait on Jehovah who gives to us the salvation we desperately need. Sing Psalter 99.

January 30 Read Psalm 38:1-11

David, like all of God’s people, fell into sin. David, again like all of God’s people, delayed in going to the heavenly Father to confess that sin and receive the forgiveness, which only comes from Jehovah, for that sin. God will bring us to him when we sin. Sometimes the chastisement necessary is severe like that described in the first part of this Psalm. When we get the type of spiritual leprosy described here, we need to fall on our knees in prayer. Only in that way will we receive the sweet balm of healing that is the forgiveness of sin. Sing Psalter 102.

January 31 Read Psalm 38:12-22

In the final part of this Psalm, David continues his lament about the troubles that the wicked bring upon him. David was in sore distress, and humanly speaking, one might think that he was ready to give up all hope. But David knew that he must hope in God. He knew that God would hear him and prevent the enemies from coming upon him. This was not easy, but by grace he could prevail and cry out, “Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.” This should be our cry. Is it? Sing Psalter 103.

February 1 Read Psalm 39:1-6

Sins of the tongue have plagued God’s people throughout the ages. David knew what to do. We need to bridle our tongues. Is this possible? Not in our own strength as James told us in his epistle. Sometimes we fail to speak that which is good. This must be avoided as well. But we must not speak rashly. David realized that only God could help him in this kind of distress, and only God could show him the way that his life must go. Let us daily pray for help in the use of our tongue. Let us use it to praise God and not to sin. Sing Psalter 105.

February 2 Read Psalm 39:7-13

David realizes and we must too that the only way of help is from God. We must pray as David did. God is sovereign and controls all things. We must see this as we live in this world of vanity. If we try to find salvation in this world, we will find nothing. We must realize this and live as the strangers and pilgrims that we are. This world is not our home. Our home is spiritual and not earthly. Let us seek that home, and let us do that with prayer and supplication to our sovereign God. Sing Psalter 106.

February 3 Read Psalm 40:1-10

In this Psalm we seem to see the answer to David’s prayers of the last two Psalms. First of all David confesses that he has waited patiently. This we must do to find true peace on this earth. Secondly, we must sing that new song that is given to the saved ones. Then we see that the way of salvation is only in Christ as he is foreshadowed in verses 6-10. Those words are repeated in the New Testament about Christ. We must follow them and use them as our example throughout our entire life. Sing Psalter 111.

February 4 Read Psalm 40:11-17

We sin daily. We need to pray the prayer of verse 11 daily as well. It is only through the tender mercies and lovingkindness, which are “new every morning,” that we will find true peace on our pilgrimage on this earth. Only the child of God can pray, “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me.” Only by grace do we dare take these words on our lips. Only the elect can pray that God will take vengeance upon the wicked. They can do this because those wicked are God’s enemies. God will come quickly to save his people; of that there is no doubt. Sing Psalter 112.

December 15 Read Psalm 8

Who Am I?

The vast expanse of the sky never seems bigger than on a clear winter night. As one gazes at the stars and the smoky trail of our galaxy, he cannot help but feel insignificant, and if that one is believer, he cannot help but marvel at the greatness and the glory of his God. For although the sky may seem limitless, we know that the heavenly bodies are but creatures of our God, who spoke them into existence by the word of his power. Though we may be in awe at the distance of the stars or the beauty of the moon, we know our God to be infinitely more glorious and far above these works of his hands. Such wonderful knowledge causes us to exclaim with the Psalmist David, “Who am I, O Lord, that thou art mindful of me?” And yet, by faith we believe that this excellent God, the creator and sustainer of all things, does take thought of us, his elect. More amazing still, his thoughts toward us are thoughts so gracious that he who is exalted above the heavens stooped to redeem sinners whom he made from the dust of the earth. By grace, this great, transcendent God is our Lord. Praise him, young and old! Sing Psalter 14, vs. 1, 3, 4, and 7.

December 16 Read Psalm 51

I Acknowledge My Transgressions

With each new day, the ungodly around us revel more and more openly in sin. Their blatant immorality poses two threats to the Christian person: the first threat is the possibility that the child of God falls into their sin. The second danger is that he becomes immune to his own sins, many of which are “private” or seem mildly offensive when compared to the world’s wickedness. In order for the child of God to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ, he must first recognize his need for a Savior. The Heidelberg Catechism refers to the human state in relation to God as a state of misery. When you examine yourself, do you see that you stand before the transcendent, holy God as one who is miserable? When the Lord visited King David through the prophet Nathan and accused him of his sin, a contrite David penned the repentant Psalm 51. Our Father comes to us through the preaching and the reading of his word, convicting us of our transgressions. We must strive to know the Scriptures, for God uses his law to open our eyes to our miserable state and bring us before him with this confession, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” Sing Psalter 142.

December 17 Read Genesis 3

Thou Shalt Surely Die

The ninth question of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?” and its answer begins: “Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it.” Adam and Eve were created with a free will: they were able to serve God perfectly, but they turned against him, enslaving themselves and the human race to sin. They, who had thrived in perfection, clearly saw the shame of their sinful condition. They, who had been the friends of God, were now his enemies. Man’s will was no longer free, but bound to sin. The child of God faces the bitter evidence of the warfare between his old nature and his new man in Christ each day. And yet, God showed mercy to Adam and Eve and to us, for in promising the victorious Seed of the woman, he promised to restore his friendship with all of his people in eternal perfection. How wonderful will God’s heavenly kingdom appear to us whose earthly lives are plagued with sin and sorrow: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!” (Romans 8:18). Sing Psalter 243, vs. 1, 6, 13, 14, and 15.

December 18 Read Hebrews 11:8-16

Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth

Yesterday we were reminded that Adam’s fall into sin marred man’s relationship toward God; today we consider the life of Abraham, who is identified throughout Scripture as God’s friend. God called Abraham to live as a pilgrim and a stranger, commanding him to leave his family and his home to reside in the foreign land of Canaan. Abraham obeyed God and visibly lived his life as one who understood that this earth is nothing more than a temporary dwelling place. Abraham understood that as God’s friend he was to live separately from the seed of the serpent, for God had put enmity between them. Child of God, does your life manifest the antitheses? Like Abraham, we, God’s elect, are called to live among the ungodly, and yet we must maintain spiritual separation from those who live their life in defiance of God. In contrast to the reprobate, we live our lives to the glory of God, working for the benefit of his church and his eternal kingdom. And yet, how easily we can be consumed with distractions here below! Pray for God’s grace that you may go about today mindful that you are a citizen of Christ’s heavenly kingdom, aware that this earth is not your home. Sing Psalter 327.

December 19 Read Genesis 22:1-10

He Gave His Only Begotten Son

A parent loves his or her child with a fervent, enduring love. Such love causes a father or mother to seek the well-being of his or her child no matter the cost and who fear any harm that might come to their child. How true this must have been of Abraham with regard to his son Isaac, the promised child for whom he had waited many long years. And yet, “by faith Abraham…offered up his only begotten son…accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19). The great faith that God gave Abraham seems almost unbelievable to us, who hearts tremble at the thought of hurting a child, especially if that child is our own, even when commanded to do so for our just God. And yet, Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son is only a dim picture, for God loves his son, who dwells with him even before the foundation of the world, as no earthly parent has ever loved his child. But God gave his beloved son to the death of the cross for the sake of sinners who ridiculed and crucified him. Thanks be to God for his great love toward us! Sing Psalter 243, vs. 1, 5, and 15.

December 20 Read Genesis 32:22-32

Thy Name Shall Be Called Israel

Jacob is greatly distressed. He is returning to with his family and all of his possessions, and tomorrow he will meet Esau, the brother whom he has not seen since the time that he tricked his father into obtaining the birthright blessing. Esau is marching toward them with four hundred men, and Jacob fears for his life and the lives of his family. He gathers a great present of animals for Esau and then sends his family across a brook while he spends the night on the other side of the stream alone. The Angel of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, comes to Jacob there and wrestles with him until the breaking of day. And, by faith, weak, pitiful Jacob has power over the Angel, and prevails, and pleads with him for a blessing (Hosea 10:12). The Angel of Lord responds by changing Jacob’s name from “a deceiver” to “Israel,” which means “God’s Prince” or “God’s Contender.” And so, Jacob learned that night that the tricks that he used to try to obtain God’s favor did not get him anywhere. But God, who chooses the weak things of the world to confound the things that are strong, in his grace elected Jacob the deceiver to be his prince, his adopted son. The rising sun shines upon Jacob as he limps over the brook, reminding him of his Father’s blessing and encouraging him as he prepares to meet his brother. So, too, child of God, our Father chose us, while we were yet sinners and undeserving of his favor, and he gives us the sunshine to hearten us and remind us of his tender care of his elect. Sing Psalter 400, vs. 1, 3, and 7.

December 21 Read II Samuel 7:1-17

A House Established Forever

Proverbs 16:9 reads, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” There are times in the Christian’s life that he plans for the future only to learn in the providence of God that God’s counsel has determined a different course for his life. Such was the case with David, who earnestly desired to build God’s temple. Although David’s desire stemmed from his love of God, the Lord did not intend for David to be his house builder. He comes to David through the prophet Nathan and promises that not David but his son would build the temple. Furthermore, God declares, “You want to build me a house, David? Instead of you building me an earthly house, I intend to establish for you a house that will last for ever.” David responds to this promise of God by exalting him and acknowledging that he is unworthy of such blessing. And so we, too, when we do not understand why the Lord leads us in the way that he does, humbly confess that his ways are higher than our ways. By faith we look beyond the earthly, to the eternal, confessing that all of our trials work to prepare for us our place in that “building of God.” Sing Psalter 367, vs. 1, 3, 4, and 5.

December 22 Read Psalm 72

Who Only Doeth Wondrous Things

David wrote Psalm 72 for Solomon, the son who would inherit his throne and build God’s temple. In the psalm David prays that God will bless his son with wisdom and establish his kingdom with peace. The psalm is not only prophetic of the splendor and the prosperity that characterized Solomon’s reign, but also, and more importantly, it is a Messianic psalm that celebrates the glory of Christ’s kingdom and exalts him as Lord of all. He is the one who was born a helpless human infant, but he is also the one to whom all rulers and governments are subject, the one who will defeat all those who live in defiance of him. Did you read about yourself in this Psalm? You and I are mentioned along with all of God’s elect in verses 13 and 14: “He shall spare the poor and the needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence…” The climax of the Psalm is a doxology that is familiar to many of us: “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen!” Resist the tendency to sing this doxology mindlessly Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day. Instead, sing from the heart praise to him who worked the most wondrous work of your salvation! Sing Psalter 195.

December 23 Luke 1:26-38

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

The period that preceded the birth of Jesus Christ was a difficult time for the people of God, a time characterized by waiting for the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. It was a time when the Jews chafed beneath Roman rule, and the leaders of the visible church had split into sects that distorted the gospel and exploited God’s elect. It was at that time when the angel Gabriel appeared to young Mary, hailed her as one “highly favored,” and revealed to her that God had chosen her to be the mother of his son. Mary’s humble reaction to the angel’s astonishing message exemplified her faith in God and her acceptance of his will: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” No doubt Mary faced scorn when it became apparent that she who was unmarried was with child; no doubt she battled fear as she endured the pangs of birth on a crude stable floor; no doubt she experienced tremendous grief as she watched her firstborn son suffer untold agony and die a shameful death. And yet, by grace, Mary esteemed the praise of God more than the approval of men. We live at a difficult time for the true church of Jesus Christ. Ours, too, is a time characterized by waiting for the coming of our Lord. It is a time in which the kingdom of the Anti-Christ gains power at unprecedented speed and the visible church grows increasingly apostate. At this time our God comes to us in his word, salutes us in Jesus Christ as those who are highly favored (Ephesians 1:6), and calls us to walk the path that he has chosen for us, no matter what the cost, for his name and kingdom’s sake. It is by grace that we respond, “Here I am, thy servant, Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.” Sing the Song of Mary.

December 24 Read Isaiah 11:1-10

Glorious Rest

It is the time of the year when the world makes much ado about promoting peace and good will. It is the time of the year when even those who deny the birth of Christ feverishly occupy themselves with gift-giving and merry-making. Indeed, at no time of the year are those around us busier than during the “holiday season.” Strikingly, it is also the time of the year when people are most likely to suffer depression, to commit suicide. The Christian, looking through the spectacles of Scripture, understands the reason for the hopelessness experienced by so many, for the gods of possessions, food, family, or holiday cheer are unable to fill the void in the heart of a man, nor can they instill in him the joy and the security for which he longs. And yet, you and I, who are God’s people and know his grace, are not immune to sadness, even as we commemorate our Savior’s birth. Perhaps your heart is aching from the loss of a loved one, or maybe your body is weary with age or disease. You may be downtrodden by the demands of day-to-day life, the difficulties of your vocation, or the burden of anxious cares. To you, dear child of God, comes the promise of the kingdom of our Messiah, that root of Jesse, and his glorious rest. For there God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the things of this earth will have passed away (Rev. 21:4). Sing Psalter 198.

December 25 Read John 1:1-14

And The Word Was Made Flesh

In simple language the inspired apostle John unfolds the profound mystery of the incarnation. Jesus Christ, the Word, is God, and he was before the beginning, and in the beginning. The word was promised at the Fall when man became darkness, and that Word shone in the darkness of the Old Testament types and figures, prophecies and promises. The Word is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham; he is the one who alone is able to change us who are deceivers to spotless children of the King. The Word is the one who has established the house and the throne of David forever, the offspring of Jesse who grants his own glorious rest. And the Word is the firstborn son of the young virgin, Mary; he is God, made an infant. God, come to dwell in the world that he created and that he upholds only to be rejected by its inhabitants. Child of God, are you filled with wonder at God’s grace today? The mighty God who spoke the universe into existence was made flesh! The son of God became the son of man, that the elect children of men who were darkness might also become the sons and the daughters of God. Stand in awe today as you behold the glory of the Word. Sing Psalter 289:1-7, 18.

December 26 Read Isaiah 44:1-8; 21-23

Beside Me There is No God

Many mainstream churches today follow the trend that promotes tolerance of all faiths. Indeed, there are even some who call themselves Christians but concede that other religions—Islam, for example—are legitimate and even admirable. We believe God’s word that beside him there is no God, and we confess that apart from Jesus Christ there is no hope of eternal life. And yet, we also make idol gods. How easy it is for us to love money and to devote ourselves to obtaining more and more material possessions. Then, in times of economic instability, we are tempted to turn to the government to help us maintain our standard of living. When we or one that we love is sick, we can be prone to place our trust in modern medicine. We indulge in self worship when we pursue our own desires, disregarding God’s law and hurting our neighbor. In addition, there is a tendency among our own circles to worship the god of family, for how often do we not expend ourselves for the welfare of our blood relatives while neglecting God’s church or failing to show hospitality to other saints in our own congregations? In Matthew 10:37 Jesus declares, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Our God Jehovah must be our only God, for it is he who has formed us and blotted out our transgressions. Pray that you will walk worthy of your Lord today! Sing Psalter 233:5 and 6.

December 27 Read Hebrews 1:1-12

Let All the Angels of God Worship Him

Several days ago we considered a passage in which the angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary, and more than likely you have recently heard or read Luke 2, the chapter in which the angels appear to the shepherds, announcing the birth of the Savior and praising God in chorus. We, who are earthly, can be fascinated by angels. What does the Bible teach us about angels? Angels are not the cheery, haloed creatures that perch atop Christmas trees and adorn holiday greeting cards. They are the servants of Jesus Christ, who are sent forth as messengers to execute God’s divine pleasure. How humbling to read that God uses the powerful, intelligent angels to serve us, who, although sinful, are the heirs of salvation (Verse 14). Angels rejoice at the conversion of the sinner, and it is they who bring the souls of believers to heaven. Angels are holy, but they are not all-knowing or all-powerful; therefore, they, with us, praise God and worship his son. Perhaps God reveals little to us about angels because he knows that we might be tempted to make idols of them. This was the apostle John’s response in Revelation 22: “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” Today, God’s angels continue to fight for the cause of his elect. Why do they not come unto us with messages from above? Because God in these last days speaks unto us by a far superior means: by his son, through the preaching and the reading of his word. Give praise to him! Sing Psalter 405.

December 28 Read Galatians 3:7-16

In Thee Shall All Nations be Blessed

We who are members of the Protestant Reformed Churches are familiar with God’s covenant promise to Abraham as it is recorded in Genesis 17:7: “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” What a beautiful promise God has given to us who are believers and to our children! How can we, who are not physical descendants of Abraham, claim that covenant promise as ours? Through Jesus Christ, who is the seed of Abraham. For by faith we are justified and redeemed by the death of Jesus Christ, through whom the blessing of Abraham comes upon God’s elect from all nations. Even before Isaac had been born, God promised Abraham, “A father of many nations have I made thee.” Notice, God speaks in the past tense, for in eternity he chose a church composed of people from all nations and throughout all of history. He chose you, and he decreed your race and the culture and the time in which you live to his glory. And so also, he saves his children from the Philippines, from Singapore, from Africa, from India, from Mexico… Praise him in whom all nations of the world are blessed! Sing Psalter 399:1, 2, and 4.

December 29 Read Matthew 2:1-11

There Came Wise Men from the East

Several weeks from today, a new president will take the oath of office in the nation in which we live. As immorality increases in the United States and throughout the world, we may become troubled as we speculate what might happen in the years that lie ahead. Our God calls us to rest in the knowledge that he is in control of all of the course of history, and he will see to it that all rulers perform his pleasure (Isaiah 44:28). What is the pleasure of the Lord? As we saw yesterday, he is pleased to gather unto himself an elect people from all nations and from all time periods in history. At the time when Jesus was born in Palestine, great civilizations thrived in the East, in China and India. We might wonder, what was the purpose of God with these millions of people who followed a false religion and seemed to live in total darkness, even as his son walked upon the earth? And then we read in God’s word, “There came wise men from the East…” Do not fear for the church of God as the end of time draws closer and sin and sinful men abound. Though God’s people be nothing more than a remnant, all kings and all nations are but tools in the hand of the Lord to bring his elect to salvation. Sing Psalter 200.

December 30 Read Revelation 22:1-5; 12-17

Let Him That Heareth Say, Come

Yesterday we briefly considered God’s purpose with the nations of the earth in which we live; today we read about that eternal kingdom where Jesus Christ sits on the throne. There the curse of God that came upon creation in the Garden of Eden no longer exists, and the presence of God remedies all former sorrows and sicknesses. In the year that now has almost passed, the purposes of God in the building of his kingdom have been accomplished, for never is his will thwarted. Always his counsel is fulfilled. In all that happened in the year gone by, Jesus Christ was marching, for he comes quickly to judge the works of men and to establish his kingdom. The prayer of the Holy Spirit and of his bride, the church, is that he come. Is that your personal prayer, child of God? Does your day-to-day life witness that you are not a citizen of this world but that you desire that your Lord come? We know from God’s Word that Christ’s coming is heralded by difficult times for the Church and unsurpassed misery in creation. God will use that persecution and tribulation just as he uses the sorrows and the trials that we face already today: to work in our hearts a more fervent desire that his kingdom come. And so, let our prayer today and every day be: “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Sing Psalter 302.

December 31 Read Psalm 90

So Teach Us to Number Our Days

Brothers and sisters in the Lord, the ungodly around us will usher in the new year with reveling and drunkenness. How foolish they are to celebrate, for the passing of another year only brings each man closer to the day in which he will stand before the living God and give account of all that he has done. What a terrible moment that will be for the reprobate, but for us, who are redeemed in the blood of the Lamb, what a glorious moment that will be, the moment in which we are changed in the twinkling of an eye from death to glory. And so we, too, celebrate today. We celebrate, and we come before God with the humble of prayer of Moses in Psalm 90, “So teach us to number our days.” We come before God with that prayer, for we know that he is the one who has determined the length of our days. In his wisdom he has determined the number of days necessary to prepare each of one of us for our place in glory. That time for our life may be less than a day, or it may be a year. It may be sixteen years, fifty-one, or ninety-five. But no matter how long we might live, our life is like the grass, which flourishes and then quickly withers away. “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” And so, our prayer is that God will make us aware of the brevity of our life, that in each and every day that he gives us, we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Sing Psalter 244.

Devotional by Chester Hunter

January 1 Read Jonah 1:1-10

There is much instruction to be found in this book of prophecy. Here we see that God will show us the way we must go. We also must see that we must listen to him. God will also use us to testify and witness to the heathen about his sovereignty. That sovereignty is one of his greatest attributes, and it is one that men wish to ignore. As we go through this new year> and life, let us see God and bow before his power. Sing Psalter 255:1-3.

January 2 Read Jonah 1:11-17

In this passage we see God’s sovereignty in nature. Man could do nothing against the storm God had sent upon them. God calmed the waves and sent a fish for the sake of his gospel. As you study the human body remember that God prepared that body as a temple for our souls. Disease, a picture of sin, can only do to that body what God wills. Even as we marvel at God’s wonders in the outside world, we must take time to wonder at his wonder the human body. We were curiously made. How is speech possible? How can we learn to sing different parts? As the Belgic Confession in article two states, we are taught by the creation. Man is the crown of that creation. Sing Psalter 241:1-3; 7-9.

January 3 Read Jonah 2

Today’s passage is a little longer but it needs to be read in its entirety. It is a beautiful prayer uttered by one who has seen his sin and has repented. Read it again really see its depth. And then remember to pray without ceasing. Sing Psalter 209:1-4 and 11.

January 4 Read Jonah 3:1-5

The word of God never goes away from him void. We do not know how the preaching affects everyone. We do not know how our responses affect those with whom we come into contact daily. But God will use even those contacts for his glory. We must continue to stand for the truth and receive God’s blessing. Jonah did not like what happened to Nineveh. But it was God’s will, and with Christ we must say, Thy will be done. Sing Psalter 195.

January 5 Read Jonah 3:6-10

As I said yesterday God’s word does not return unto him void. He heard Jonah’s prayer and he heard the cries of Nineveh. Of course this does not mean that every one was saved. But every one of God’s people was. God is gracious to us; that we must remember. He will care for us in every situation. Sing Psalter 187.

January 6 Read Jonah 4:1-5

God was not finished with Jonah’s education yet because Jonah was not ready to learn. Jonah did not want Nineveh to repent. Jonah thought he knew what was best. If Nineveh was destroyed, God’s people would be safe from attack. But this was not God’s way. Israel needed the correction that would be supplied by Assyria and there were God’s people to be found in Nineveh. We too must learn to wait on Jehovah. We must not make our ways his ways, but we must make his ways our ways. This takes grace and we must pray for it. Sing Psalter 73:1-3 and 6.

January 7 Read Jonah 4:6-11

As we finish this short book, we must remember that it is prophecy. It is not just a nice story. It is not just some interesting history. Christ used this account to show that his resurrection was possible. The Jews of his day did not believe. What about us? Do we cling to Christ and the truths about him, or do we still want to do things our way. Let us not have to learn as Jonah did; let us learn by faith in God and his son our Lord Jesus Christ. Sing Psalter 308.

January 8 Read Malachi 1:1-5

Malachi is an interesting book. It was the last written during the Old Testament times. It was written to a people beset with wickedness especially among the class of the priests. But there was a faithful remnant. And there are some gems written to them and for them. We have such a gem in verse 5. Jehovah’s name will be magnified when Christ returns. All shall see him and must confess that he is God. This is comforting for us to know. We can look for his return in faith and know that he is God. Sing Psalter 398.

January 9 Read Malachi 1:6-14

Malachi, in this part of chapter one, lays out one of the evils in Israel. They were not honoring Jehovah in their manner of worship. God has clearly laid out in Scripture how he is to be worshipped. Even as we show honor to earthly leaders, we must show honor to God. Even as there is a certain protocol to follow with earthly leaders there is a protocol to follow with God. Now we do not have the ceremonials as the Old Testament Jews did, but nonetheless there is a certain “way” to worship God. That way is in the way of reverence and following what he has prescribed in Scripture. We call that the regulative principal of worship. God took his worship away from the Jews and gave it to the Gentiles as we read in verse 11. He will do the same to us if we do not honor him in worship. Sing Psalter 246:1, 2, and 5.

January 10 Read Malachi 2:1-6

While these verses are directed directly at the priests, they apply to all believers. We, in the office of believer, occupy the priestly office. God’s covenant of life and peace is found with us. It is a covenant in which we are called to walk in a certain way. We are enabled to walk in that way. By walking in that we find life and peace. It is not a condition to walk; it is a commandment. We must walk with the law of truth in our mouths. This has many implications for us in our daily walk. Let us consider how we must walk and then let us walk in truth. Sing Psalter 336.

January 11 Read Malachi 2:7-12

Verse 10 explains to us why the church must be multicultural. We have one Father. God created all the races. Out of those races he gathered a church, the body of his dear Son. As we live in this world we must not shun or ignore others because they are different than we are. This is hard for us. By nature we wish to only associate with those who are like us. I am glad that we have been part of a family that for a long time has done this. We truly must live this way since we are part of the “holy catholic church.” Sing Psalter 176.

January 12 Read Malachi 2:13-17

Divorce is ugly. God shows this to us over and over in the Bible. The picture of Christ and his church is evidence of this as well. Christ will never divorce his people. But some that appear to be his people for a time, definitely divorce him. He is faithful to us and we must be faithful to him. In this negative passage we see the beauty of marriage. God has made two, one. In that unity is the beautiful picture of Christ and his church. Look at verse 17 once more. Here we see a snapshot of today’s world. Every one decides what is good and evil. They do this about government, about life, and especially about marriage. Let us honor our bridegroom with a holy attitude toward marriage. Sing Psalter 360.

January 13 Read Malachi 3:1-6

There are several interesting verses in this passage. The first three deal with both John the Baptist and Jesus. For a stirring rendition of this text listen again to the “Messiah” versification. It really makes you think about life on this earth. Then, we see in verses 4-5, Christ’s work for us. He loves us, cares for us, and makes us pleasant in God’s eyes. Finally we have the verse of hope in verse 6. God will not change. Even our most sinful acts will not change his love for us. Thanks be to God. Sing Psalter 403.

January 14 Read Malachi 3:7-12

We see in this portion of Scripture that Israel was like us. We, too, can think only of ourselves and not of what God has commanded. We quickly can think that we do not have anything to give to the church collections. We need to think about verse 10 again. In thinking about verse 10, we will see the blessedness of our heavenly Father from whom all blessings flow. God’s people do not want, of that we must not doubt. We also have the promises of verses 11-12. Sometimes it is hard for us to see where he is leading us in earthly things, but we must remember that the true path is to heaven. Sing Psalter 24.

January 15 Read Malachi 3:13-18

Once again we see a passage divided into two parts. It is the second to which I wish to call to your attention. First of all verse 16. God’s people are called to speak to one another. This may be personally which was the only way in Malachi’s day. Today, however, it could be by email, texting, Facebook, or any of the other means. This should not take away the personal, however. Also the text refers to the study of God’s word. Our contact must include this. We have many more opportunities to do this. Even these short missives would qualify. Then there is verse 17. God’s people are his Jewels. He is making them up into his crown even as a jeweler would fashion gems into a crown. What a blessed thought that is for us! Let us live lives of thankfulness for being made jewels in the crown of the King of Kings! Sing Psalter 349.

January 16 Read Malachi 4:1-6

The book of Malachi ends with this beautiful chapter. For the people of Israel, it was 400 years later until Gabriel appeared to Zacharias. We, too, wait for the next word from God. That Word which will be the return of Christ. Like Israel of old, we must watch for the signs. They are all around us. As we wait for the Son of Righteousness to come again, let us watch daily. Let us live lives in expectation of him and let us remember the Law of Moses. Sing Psalter 29.

 

November 16 Read Proverbs 15:14-20

In this age of materialism we would do well to ponder the truths presented in verses 16 and 17. We live in a world where more is better and if you do not have more of this world’s goods you have nothing. Over against this philosophy is the philosophy that if the fear of Jehovah does not characterize our lives we have nothing. Out of a desire for more worldly pleasures comes a strife that breaks out even within a family. Family peace is found in having peace with God. Having godly contentment will give to us the peace that passeth understanding. Seek this peace and shun the world’s pleasures and goods. Sing Psalter 246.

November 17 Read Proverbs 15:21-27

Back to the tongue we go in verse 23. Do you have joy with the answers of your mouths, young people and children? You will not have it if your speech is full of putdowns and sarcastic words to those around you. Oh, you may get a laugh at first, and some may think you clever, but those words will soon turn bitter and become hard to swallow. Rather than this course, seek to speak words of comfort and love to those whom God places on your paths. Those words may not make you popular with the “in” crowd, but they will be approved by God who hears all things. Speak the good words of wisdom and you will speak words which taste sweet for ever! Sing Psalter 25.

November 18 Read Proverbs 15:28-33

Children and young people, you might have in your head that every adult in the world loves to “yell at you”. They seem to correct you for every little thing. You wish that they would leave you alone and quit picking on you. If this is your feeling, go and read verse 32 again. Do you hate your souls? Is your opinion that you want to go to hell and be left alone? Then refuse your parents’ good correction and you will find yourself being absent from God’s good favor. But if you listen to the correction of those whom God has placed over you, you will get understanding, and, as we have seen before, this is a good thing. Seek correction, people of God, for in doing so you will be seeking wisdom. Sing Psalter 334.

November 19 Read Proverbs 16:1-7

There is both a wonderful and a sobering truth in verse 4. First of all we find that God has made all things for himself. What does that mean? First of all, we see that all things must serve his glory. Whether it is the bright blue sunny day which radiates with glory or the gloomy gray day which seems to be suffocating, both are for God’s glory alone. Secondly, this truth should make us very humble as we see that all things are for God and not for us. It is a sobering thought that even the wicked are made for the day of destruction. This day is coming. We will be judged for our sins. This should cause us to think about how we are living our lives. Let us give God all glory and all thanks. Glory for the wonders that he has created, and thanks for his work of salvation in our hearts and lives. Sing Psalter 15.

November 20 Read Proverbs 16:8-13

We are a planning people. Look at the date books, computer reminders, and other types of organizers that we own. Some of us have each day and hour planned for the next six months. We think we know what we are going to do far in advance. Is this so wrong? Not necessarily. It depends how we look at what we have planned. Is it because we want to be in control of our destiny? Is it because we think that we shape the course of our own lives? Nothing can be farther from the truth. It is the testimony of verse nine and James 4:13-15 that it is God who controls our destiny and the shape of our lives. We must properly say if the Lord wills as we write down each date. We must bow before the will and good counsel of him who knows best. Let us be conscious of the fact that it is God who controls our steps, and let us bow before his will as we live our daily lives. Sing Psalter 29

November 21 Read Proverbs 16:14-20

If there is ever a verse that bears repeating each day of our lives, it is verse 18. Along with the thought of yesterday’s verse, this one should bring us to our senses and help to shape our attitude about life. If we become proud of who we are and what we accomplish, rest assured, people of God, He will haul us up short and bring about a fall. If we think that we are some great one or have done some great things, we must prepare for the crash that will soon come upon us. Sometimes the crash will be just a bump to remind us of who we are, and sometimes it will be a huge crash that reduces us to a mass of shivering pulp. Pray for the grace not to walk in pride, and pray for this daily. Sing Psalter 136.

November 22 Read Proverbs 16:21-27

We have seen the thought of verse 25 before. Repetition should cause us to stop and give a long look to that which is written by God in his Word. Man thinks a lot about his way. Man plans his way. Some, and we must include ourselves in this, even work to make our way go around God if that were at all possible. The way of a man is to get for himself as much honor and glory as he can. Whether this is done by amassing huge amounts of some physical properties or wealth, or if it is done by making oneself famous in the world; man wants to make his own way in this world. By doing this we are putting ourselves on the paths of destruction. This is not God’s way. God’s way rests in humble obedience to his will. God’s way means that we do all things for his glory even as he has created all things. Let us stop and consider our way and ask God to help us not to make our way the path to destruction. Sing Psalter 354.

November 23 Read Proverbs 16:28-33

In the words of verse 31 we find two admonitions. First of all, we find the admonition to honor those to whom God has given great age. Those who have attained the age of three score years and ten have attained a measure of glory on this earth. That glory is found in the wisdom with which God has given that elderly saint. The second admonition is that all elderly people are not covered with glory if they did not attain their age walking in the fear of Jehovah. As those of us who reside in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day today, let us give thanks for elderly saints who walk with us and show us the way of righteousness. They are part of the cloud of witnesses who line the course as we run the race set before us. Thank you parents and grandparents who show to us the way of a godly life. Sing Psalter 360.

November 24 Read Proverbs 17:1-7

Yesterday we saw that Solomon acknowledged the wisdom that God gives to those aged saints among the church. Today in verse 6 we see the beauty of the covenant as shown in the children and grandchildren of the church. It is a joy to grandparents to see their children walk in the same faith that they themselves do. They love to see them make confession of faith in front of the congregation. And they love to hold their great-grandchildren after baptism. The covenant which God has established with us is a most precious thing. Let us give thanks to God for the covenant blessings that he has given to us. Sing Psalter 359.

November 25 Read Proverbs 17:8-14

Today we gain a respite from the world and its activities. We have the privilege of going to his house and receiving rest for our weary souls. We need this rest as we take up our labors again tomorrow. In verse thirteen we have instruction given to us about our life in the world. We must never look to bring evil upon someone. We have many opportunities to do this in our business dealings, in our school relationships, and even with our next door neighbors. Let us not do evil to those whom God has placed in our paths. In the first place, this is not a neighborly thing to do. Secondly, it brings despite upon the name of Christ and his church. Finally, it is no way to show thanksgiving for God’s love toward us. Let us do good to all men even those who treat us evilly. Sing Psalter 13:1, 2, and 5.

November 26 Read Proverbs 17:15-21

People of God, do you act as true friends and brothers to those who are in the family of faith? Young people, are you friends with those whom God has called to be your spiritual brothers and sisters? Children, how do you act toward all of your classmates? Verse seventeen tells us that a friend loveth at all times. True friends are not friends only when it is convenient and profitable. True friends are friends in good times and bad times. True friends do not ignore each other when “certain” other people are around. A true brother and sister stand by his or her family members when the world is ridiculing them for the faith. Do you consider yourself a friend? Do you act as Christ acted toward us? Think about these things, children and young people, and apply them in your lives as Christ wants you to. Sing Psalter 369.

November 27 Read Proverbs 17:22-28

In verses 27-28 Solomon comes back to the theme of the tongue. We have spent much time on this idea as does Solomon. We might be inclined to think that another meditation on this topic is overdoing it. The Holy Spirit does not. He inspired Solomon to pen these words because they are needed by the church. Think back over today’s conversations, people of God. Did you hold your tongues when your words were not needed. Did you consciously refrain from breaking the third and ninth commandments today? Notice that the world understands that holding the tongue is wise. How much more should not we who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb keep our tongues from all evil? Let us be wise and let us apply wisdom as we speak. Sing Psalter 105.

November 28 Read Proverbs 18:1-8

Verse one may appear a hard one to understand. But if we see that one of the ideas found in this verse is selfishness, we can understand it better. One way that we can understand the word “desire” is that which we want for ourselves no matter what the cost. We may be so selfish that we separate ourselves from our friends and scorn their wise counsel. In doing this we scorn the wisdom of God in many areas of life. We are told to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Yes, we are to love ourselves, but we are not to love ourselves at the expense of our neighbors. Let us watch out for our selfish desires that they not cause us to stray from the paths of wisdom. Sing Psalter 96.

November 29 Read Proverbs 18:9-16

In verse 9 we find two admonitions to which all of God’s people do well to take heed. Especially students need these admonitions of a wise father. First of all, we are told not to be lazy in our work. How do you carry out the assignments or chores given to you by your parents, teachers, or bosses? Do you do them to the best of your ability? Do you carry them out completely or just enough to get by? Do you let things slide for your own desires? Secondly, we are told not to be wasters. We can waste many things. Our time, money, abilities are just a few of these. One of the worst ways to waste something is to waste the opportunity to serve God in whatever way we are called. Students are called to be students. To waste anything in that calling is foolish. Heed Solomon, young people, and be wise in your calling to be a student. Sing Psalter 70.

November 30 Read Proverbs 18:17-24

Are you looking for a wife, young men? Verse 22 assumes that you are looking because you will not find anything with out looking for it. A young man has three areas to fulfill along the path God has laid out for him. One of these is confession of faith. Another is finding the occupation by which he will serve God in his life. And then there is this business of finding a wife. Now it is true that God does not give to every man a wife. This is the exception not the rule. Even though the verse uses “a” wife, we must heed all of Scripture and know that that means a godly wife. This should go with out saying. Finding the godly wife meant for you is to gain favor with the Lord. Why, we might ask? To find a wife is to carry out the calling of picturing the marriage of Christ and his church and also to carry out the calling to bring forth covenant seed. Find the wife God has chosen for you and know that this will bring favor from Jehovah. Sing Psalter 360.

by Cornelius Jonker

December 1 Read John 15:16-19

James 1:1 We begin this series of meditations on the general epistle of James, with the prayer that we may better understand what the Spirit is saying to the church of Jesus Christ, of which we are living members, and how we are to behave accordingly. The author is James, most likely the brother of Christ, who apparently did not believe in Christ until Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection. He refers to himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” meaning “slave;” not a forced servitude, but a willing one. The recipients of this epistle are the twelve tribes of the dispersion, namely, the church. They are pilgrims and strangers, spiritually separated from the world and persecuted for righteousness sake. Does this description fit you? Or do you feel completely at home in this evil world? If so, self examination is in order, for Jesus states in John 15:19, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Walk then today as children of the light and ask God to keep you unspotted from the world. Sing Psalter 201:5, 6.

December 2 Read II Corinthians 6:1-10

James 1:2 The author immediately begins with an admonition that sounds almost impossible to understand. He says, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers (or a variety of) temptations.” He makes it very emphatic by describing it as all joy. How do you and I react when events happen to us that we consider unpleasant or even very grievous to bear? Must we succumb to despair or bitterness? Not at all. Must we really rejoice? Difficult as it may seem, the answer is yes because God’s Word tells us so. We can’t escape temptations because they surround us. Some may allure us, such as worldly pleasures or riches, but most are the opposite such as financial problems, depression, illness, or even death. Even in these situations we must realize that this is under God’s sovereign control and he will use it to our advantage. Pray for grace to be always submissive to God’s will. Sing Psalter 34:1, 2.

December 3 Read II Peter 1:1-8

James 1:3 We learned yesterday to count it all joy when temptations befall us, and our verse today gives the reason. The reason is that the trying of our faith works patience. From our point of view these events appear as temptations, but actually they are trials from the hand of God. They serve a very good purpose, namely, that our faith is tried. When true faith is tried, it emerges stronger and produces patience. Patience means to persevere, to bear up under severe trials and is really faith in action. We can’t possibly accomplish this by ourselves. It is the work of the Spirit within us, a gift of God’s grace. As you are privileged to worship and hear the Word of God today, may the Holy Spirit use this means of grace to strengthen your faith to the end that patience may be much in evidence. Sing Psalter 100:1, 2.

December 4 Read Philippians 2:12-16

James 1:4 How do you behave under pressure? Do you flinch and retreat when troubles come your way, or do you stand firm? A new soldier or untrained recruit may turn and run when a powerful enemy appears, but the proven soldier stands firm. So it is in the battle of faith. The believer, who has patience made perfect by faith, strengthened in trials and fed by the Word ol God, can face any situation, and so we are exhorted to let patience work. How do we do that? By means of prayer, by feeding on and studying God’s Word. By God working in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. May you truly experience that godly patience. Sing Psalter 100:3, 4.

December 5 Read Proverbs 8:1-11

James 1:5 The author in this verse seems to presuppose that an objection might be raised in light of the previous admonition to let patience have her perfect work. We are so weak and foolish in and of ourselves. Who is wise enough and able to accomplish this? God gives the answer to our impatience—ask for the gift of wisdom. What is wisdom? Good judgment or prudence. We ask for wisdom in the same manner we ask for patience. In the way of communion with God. Solomon asked for a wise and understanding heart, and God not only gave him wisdom, but great riches and honor besides. So pour out your soul to God. Ask for wisdom, children and young people, in your studies and search for your life’s mate. Pray for wisdom, mothers and fathers and elderly persons, in your daily calling. And pray for wisdom, officebearers, as you perform your duties in the midst of the Church. Sing Psalter 336:2.

December 6 Read Philippians 4:4-7

James 1:6 In this verse James instructs us in the manner in which we should pray for wisdom. We must ask in faith. We all know what faith is, don’t we? Faith is a living bond which unites us with Christ. It is a certain knowledge and a hearty confidence. True prayer then proceeds from a heart that is confident that God will hear and answer. Does that characterize your prayers? Do you ask in faith, without doubting? Doubting brings instability like the waves of the sea tossed by the wind. Then if our prayers are not answered we must realize that it is because of us. In humble penitence, turn to Christ, Who said to the father of the son possessed with an evil spirit “all things are possible to him that believeth.” And his response, which must be ours also: “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Sing Psalter 185:1, 3.

December 7 Read Matthew 6:5-8

James 1:7 We learned in our previous verse that only the child of God who prays in faith will be heard of God, for when we pray in faith, we pray according to God’s will. In today’s verse we are told that whoever prays without faith must not even think that he will receive anything of the Lord. The wicked may utter prayers, but they are an abomination to the Lord. A well known columnist recently wrote a newspaper article entitled “Football game prayer is in-your-face faith.” He said that “Public praying at football games is as compatible as playing football inside a church” and it is an in your-face-faith rather than an in-your-heart variety.” He then quoted Jesus’ words, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues (football stadiums?) and on the street corners to be seen of men… But when you pray go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father” (Matt. 6:5-6). May we, led by the Spirit, pray to God with faith unfeigned. Sing Psalter 72:1, 4.

December 8 Read Proverbs 15:1-7

James 1:8 James points out to us today a picture of a man who cannot make up his mind one way or the other. Could this possibly be a picture of you? In your prayers do your lips utter a petition for forgiveness of sins without having a godly sorrow because of them? In your speech do you ever say one thing but mean something else? Do you love the world and its pleasures, but also profess to be a faithful church member? We are reminded of apostate Israel in II Kings 17:33 where we read, “They feared the Lord and served their own gods.” This is an abomination to the Lord. We are exhorted later in this same epistle that our yea must be yea, and our nay must be nay. That principle we must cultivate and ask for grace to be stableminded not only in the context of our prayers as we are reminded in this passage, but in all our words and walk. Sing Psalter 333:3, 4.

December 9 Read Psalm 27:1-6

James 1:9-11 In this passage we have a contrast which James sets up to show how God comforts us in affliction. There is a poor man and a rich man. The poor man is told to rejoice because he will be exalted and the rich man will perish. You may say, “Is that just? Is having riches wrong?” We answer that certainly there are instances of godly rich men in Scripture. But James elaborates further and calls the poor man a brother, obviously a sincere child of God, while implying that the rich man is an unbeliever. Do you possess few worldly goods but have the assurance that you are a child of God? Then you have everything! Don’t envy the rich. Asaph in Psalm 73 faced this problem until he went into the sanctuary of God and understood their end. Young people, don’t set your affections on this world and its riches. Choose a vocation where you can be of service to God and his people. Then you too will experience his blessing. Sing Psalter 204:1, 2.

December 10 Read Ephesians 6:10-17

James 1:12 What temptations have you faced this past week? How did you handle them? Did you succumb to peer pressure perhaps, or other situations that affected your dress, speech, conduct and places you attended that did not befit a Christian? How can we bear up under these temptations? By patient endurance and by loving the Lord as the last part of the verse states, our incentive is the crown of life. Our love is not first, but we love God because he first loved us. I John 4:19. Then we are blessed and happy. Being friends with God, we are enemies of Satan and recognize sin for what it is. As you attend worship services today, thank God for his covenant faithfulness. Listen attentively to the preaching of the Gospel, and by faith put on the whole armor of God so that you can stand firm against the wiles of the devil. Sing Psalter 202:1.

December 11 Read Psalm 37:7-11

James 1:13 Yesterday we read of the blessedness of the one who endures temptation. Now we see a man who succumbs to it. Temptation implies a wicked motive, and all too often we give in to sin, enticed by our mortal enemies, the devil, the world and our own flesh. Remember what Adam said after he fell into sin by eating the forbidden fruit? “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat,” thereby obliquely placing the blame upon God. We may never say “I am tempted of God.” God is holy, perfectly righteous and pure, and it follows that he cannot sin nor be tempted to sin. What is our calling then today? Pray for patience to endure any temptations that may come our way, and that the Holy Spirit may preserve and strengthen us in our daily walk of faith. Sing Psalter 103:1, 2.

December 12 Read Galatians 5:19-25

James 1:14 This verse really brings home how sinful we are and how deeply it lies within our nature. None of us likes to hear this. We much prefer to listen to the world’s philosophy of how much good there is in every person and how to practice self esteem. God’s Word tells us how sinful and lustful we are. The word lust refers to every sort of covetousness whether that be wicked sexual desires, or material goods, or pleasure or anything that entices us to sin. How do we cope with this? How can we fight this sin? We can begin by saying “Get thee behind me Satan.” We can deliberately suppress evil thoughts instead of taking pleasure in them. We can refuse to attend events which entice us into sin, and turn off the television programs which promote all sorts of evil. We must not walk with the world but choose godly companions. Above all, pray sincerely for God’s grace to resist temptations. Sing Psalter 21:1, 4.

December 13 Read Romans 7:18-25

James 1:15-16 These verses elaborate on yesterday’s passage and use a figure to show the consequences of being drawn into sin. Just as an earthly child is conceived and brought forth and grows to full development, so it is with lust. An evil desire gives place to evil thoughts which conceive sinful deeds. These sinful deeds multiply into more wickedness, and except for the grace of God, the result is death, spiritual, physical, and eternal. Therefore, James warns us in verse 16 not to be deceived, and in I Peter 1:3 we read “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” We have a constant battle to fight, don’t we? But take comfort, people of God, the victory is ours through faith. Cultivate that faith, stand firmly upon God’s Word and fervently pray that the Spirit may guide you in the paths of righteousness. Sing Psalter 99:1, 5.

December 14 Read Titus 2:11-15

James 1:17-18 James turns our attention in these verses to a great comfort. As we look back on some of the preceding verses, we realize how easily and hopelessly we can fall into depths of sin. The question naturally arises, “What is the possibility of escape?” Our text gives the answer. Our God is sovereign and he bestows upon us good and perfect gifts. Oh, we could mention a great many, but our text speaks of one of the greatest gifts of all—that of regeneration. Our natural birth is a marvelous wonder, but our rebirth, where God calls life from the dead, is even more wonderful. Do you experience that new life? Does it show in your desires, actions and words? We are described as firstfruit of his creatures. This is not only interesting, but very comforting. It means we are dedicated to God as his personal possession and a part of his family. What a wonderful comfort! What a calling is ours to be set apart from the wicked world and live for God. Focus anew on this calling today. Sing Psalter 141:1.

December 15 Read Proverbs 10:16-20

James 1:19-20 The first word in our passage today is “Wherefore.” This is meaningful. We are to remember the rich blessings that were spoken of in the previous verses. Since we are born again creatures in Christ, we are now called upon to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. Do these commendable traits describe you? How often in our daily lives the opposite is true, but we believe this admonition refers to our hearing the Word of truth spoken of in the previous verse. We may not question the inerrancy of that Word but rather be silent and listen. The Word is the chief means of grace and is powerful, like a two-edged sword. Sometimes the Word steps on our toes, so to speak, and we become offended and angry. We resent criticism and dislike being told what to do and in sinful wrath we become angry at the preacher and others. This wrath does not work the righteousness of God. Pray for grace to willingly practice these necessary virtues. Sing Psalter 162:1, 2.

 

August 4 Read Psalm 147:1-11

Psalm 147:1-3 We continue with the group of Psalms which exhort us to praise Jehovah. These three verses have three parts. First of all, we are exhorted to praise Jehovah. This should be our goal with anything and everything that we do. Secondly we are told that the praise of Jehovah is beautiful. It must be beautiful. If it is not, it is not Jehovah’s praise. Of course our praise is only beautiful through the blood of Christ. Finally we are told the reason for our praise. We must praise him because of the great salvation he has given to the church and its individual members. Our covenant God cares for every member no matter what trouble they may be in. He cares for all those for whom the world, and sadly enough even the church, does not care. Let us praise our great God for his care for us. Sing Psalters 402:1 and 403:1.

August 5 Read Nahum 1:1-7

Psalm 147:4-7 There is contrasting language in these four verses. Can you find it? First of all in verses four and five the Psalmist makes several statements about God’s greatness. Our God is the creator of the universe—even of the multitude of the stars. We may think that their number is infinite. It is not! Only God is infinite. The multitude of the stars only gives us a small picture of his infinity. Then this great God who has created all things cares for the meek. That is the contrast. The greatness of Jehovah over against the meekest of men. This lifting up is salvation for those meek people. Notice two other truths in these verses. The creator is also the Savior. Take away creation and salvation goes away as well. Secondly not only is election spoken of in verse six but reprobation as well. Let us be thankful unto our creator God who saves us from our sins. Let us do this with the song he has given to us. Sing Psalters 402:2 and 403:2.

August 6 Read Matthew 6:24-34

Psalm 147:8-9 We continue with an exposition of who God is. He is the One who causes all kinds of weather to come upon the earth. God rains, blows, snows, etc. It is not the chance happening of weather patterns or air masses. Each weather condition has his fingerprint upon it. If drought is drying up the farmers’ crop now, it is his good work. If floods carry away our houses, it is by God’s design. If we are enjoying weather that we like; this, too, comes from God and is a reason that we must praise him. Not only does he give to us weather, he cares for all of his creatures. Every animal upon earth is in his hands. Because he does this, we can be confident that he will care for us in all situations of life. Let us pause and praise the Lord for such wonderful care. Sing Psalters 402:3.

August 7 Read Psalm 147:1-11

Psalm 147:10-11 Man is quick to boast over his accomplishments. In the upcoming summer Olympics we will witness great boasting about man and his accomplishments. Advertising is full of man and his goodness. What does God think about all this? Reread verse ten for the answer. It means nothing to him. What is his pleasure? God delights in those that fear Jehovah. Young people, what do you think about day by day? What God-glorifying activities are you going to take part in tonight, tomorrow, or the next day? To praise God we must glorify him. We may never take delight in ourselves, but only in his wonderful work of salvation. Let us fear Jehovah and hope in his mercy alone. Let us do this in every activity in which we may take part. Sing Psalter 403:3.

August 8 Read Psalm 147:12-20

Psalm 147:12-14 The last several verses focused on God’s care for his people as individuals. Now we see God’s care for his church. As we prepare for the Sabbath, do we have a care for the body of Christ? Are we thinking about the members? Are we physically helping those who need our help? Do we bring the needs of the members before God’s throne of grace in our prayers? He has cared for his church. We must imitate that care as best we can in this life. And we must praise him for caring for that church of which he has made us living members. Sing Psalter 402:4.

August 9 Read Job 38:22-30

Psalm 147:15-18 Today’s verses are an expansion upon the truth first stated in verse eight. Take a minute and reread that verse. Notice how God carries out his desires upon the earth. He does this by his Word. This is the truth of Genesis 1 and John 1. All things happen not by chance but by his Word. This Word is Christ. Christ was present at creation. Through Christ creation was carried out. This is the same Christ who died upon the cross to save us from sin. This is the powerful Christ who bore the wrath of God during those hellish hours upon the cross. You do not think Christ is powerful enough to create? You think he needs millions of years to accomplish all that is on the earth? If you think that, then your Christ is not powerful enough to save you from sin. What do you think about the Word, people of God? Are you praising the Maker of heaven and earth? Sing Psalter 402:5.

August 10 Read Psalm 147:12-20

Psalm 147:19-20 The psalmist continues with the idea of the Word. Here the idea is more toward the fact of election and salvation. What a comfort to know that we are chosen by the grace of God and not because of anything we have done. We can find the idea of the covenant in these two verses as well. There are definitely two kinds of people in this world—those who are chosen to experience the favor of God and those who are not. People of God, are you thankful for this truth? Do you live this truth? Do you praise God for this truth? As we go throughout our work week, let us do so in the knowledge that we are the people of God and must praise him in and through all of our lives. Sing Psalter 402:6.

August 11 Read Psalm 114

Psalm 148:1-3 In this Psalm, which again calls us to praise God, we see an emphasis on God’s works in his creation. Summertime is traditionally a time in which many people can and do spend more time in that creation. What do you experience, people of God? Young people, what are your thoughts about the outdoors? Do we stop and contemplate the various attributes of God that are shown to us in nature? Every facet of creation is called to praise God. Just as we must praise him in everything that we do; so, too, this is the calling of creation. Just as we anxiously await the coming of Christ, so does all of the creation. Let us look around us and see the wonderful works that God has wrought, and then let us break forth into the singing of his praise. Sing Psalters 404:1 and 405:1.

August 12 Read Hebrews 11:1-6

Psalm 148:4-6 God’s work of creation is not a temporary work. Oh, this world as we know it will be destroyed by fire at the end of time, but the new heavens and new earth will continue to reflect the everlasting goodness of our covenant God. Are we looking for this time? Or are we living lives that expect this present world to continue for ever? God’s Word and works are unchangeable. What a beautiful and comforting thought that is. We need not fear what may happen to this earth, because a better home has been promised to us by the unchangeable God. Even the body that we have now will be replaced by a much better one. In our new homes and new bodies we will perfectly praise the Creator of this temporary place. People of God, who are pilgrims on this earth, praise the Lord. Sing Psalters 404:2 and 405:2.

August 13 Read Isaiah 43:14-21

Psalm 148:7-8 In our reading for today we see God’s word to Israel through his prophet Isaiah. That word is one of rebuke, but also hope. Israel was rebuked for not following the paths that God had originally set forth at creation. In the passage in Isaiah as well as in our text for today we see that the creation will honor God. But God’s own people do not at times. What do we do? Do we observe from nature the wonder works of God, and then do we follow them, or ignore them? God’s people were taken into captivity for ignoring God and his commandments. What about us? There is hope as well, because we see that God has created a new way, the way of the cross for us. Let us be thankful and praise the Lord for this goodness. Sing Psalters 404:3 and 405:3.

August 14 Read Isaiah 44:21-28

Psalm 148:9-10 These two verses continue the lesson on God’s sovereignty that we have been observing in this Psalm. As the reading in Isaiah shows us, God is sovereign over all. In Isaiah we see that he is sovereign over our salvation, his creation, and the world of wicked men. Heathen kings like Cyrus have to obey God’s will. As our nation elects new leaders this fall, are we aware of this truth? Do we realize that this is part of our salvation? The doctrine of God’s sovereignty should be very comforting to the people of God. Do we bow to it in our daily lives? Do we see it in the working out of history? God is sovereign, and we are under his care from now until death or Christ’s return. Sing Psalter 405:4.

August 15 Read I Timothy 2:1-8

Psalm 148:11-12 In yesterday’s devotional I alluded to the rulers bowing before God. Today’s verse bring this truth home for us. God gathers his people from all classes of men and from every race. All kinds of people are commanded to praise Jehovah. As Christians, we sometimes shake our heads at the actions of those whom God has placed in authority over us. But we have two commands concerning that authority. First of all, we must obey them (Romans 13). Secondly, we must pray for the salvation of those rulers whom God has elected from all eternity. We must also see from these verses the necessity of each member of our families praising Jehovah. Our children must use the songs of Zion at home and in church to praise our covenant God. Sing Psalters 404:4 and 405:5.

August 16 Read Philippians 2:1-11

Psalm 148:13 God’s name is great! Of that there can be no doubt. Do a word study on the word name as it refers to God. You will find many places in Scripture where this truth is expressed. We open our worship services with the words taken from Psalm 124, “Our help is in the name of the Lord…” Do we glorify that name? Do we give proper praise to it? Quite often we will work hard that our names be not defamed. Do we work that hard to keep God’s name holy? Are we jealous towards his glorious name? What about it, young people, do you take God’s name in vain? Do you say nothing when your friends take his name in vain? God’s name should be precious to us. Let us take great pains to glorify it and praise him. Sing Psalter 405:6.

August 17 Read Psalm 148

Psalm 148:14 This final verse of this Psalm gives reasons why we should praise the name of the Lord. Those reasons can be summed up very simply: he has done great things for us. Are we constantly aware of those great things? Sometimes when we see a storm or witness a birth, we say that God is truly great. But what about some things which we may take for granted? What about every bite of food that we eat? What about every breath of air that we breath? What about the gift of language? God has done great things for his church. The greatest, of course, being Christ Jesus. He has done great things, so praise the Lord daily. We must do this in our prayers, in our words, and in our deeds. With every breath that we take, we must praise Jehovah. Sing Psalters 404:5 and 406:7.

August 18 Read Psalm 149

Psalm 149:1-2 The people of God should be a singing people. Throughout all of Scripture, we can find instances of the church singing. Israel sang at the Red Sea. Judah sang going into battle. David sang on the hillsides as he cared for his sheep. We do read of them not singing because of the sadness caused by the captivity. The Bible also speaks of the angels singing together at creation. Paul sang in prison. Finally, we find many places in the book of Revelation which speak of the singing in heaven. Young people, are you a singing people? Do you sing the songs of Zion that God has given for us to praise him? We will have a new song in heaven. This is the song of triumph which cannot be tainted by sin. Let us practice in this life to prepare to join the heavenly choir which praises God day and night. Sing the first stanzas of Psalters 406, 407, and 408.

August 19 Read Matthew 21:10-16

Psalm 149:3 God has given to us the wonderful gift of music. How are we using that gift? There are many ways in which music can be used. Some fall under Satan’s tempting and use it in very godless ways. It becomes the vehicle to promote sins of the worst kind. Sad to say, many people of God, some young and some not too young, have fallen to this temptation. Others, like those children who greeted Jesus as he made his entry into Jerusalem, use music as it was meant to be used. God created music. Jubal corrupted it. Christ has redeemed it for us. Not every type of music or musical expression has been redeemed. There is some, and you know what I mean, which remains in Satan’s control. Flee that type of music, people of God. Flee to the music redeemed by Christ and praise the glorious name of God with it. With that praise God will be pleased. Sing the second stanzas of Psalters 406, 407, and 408.

August 20 Read I Peter 2:1-10

Psalm 149:4 Once again we see a verse beginning with the word “for”. Once again we must remember the grammatical use of that word. That word, used in this way, means that a reason for the preceding ideas is being given. What is the reason why we must praise Jehovah? We must praise Jehovah because he loves us and has given to us salvation. Just because this thought is repeated often in Scripture is not reason to think it trite. Scripture repeats things in order to emphasize them. We must pay attention to this reason. I hope that you read the Scripture reading carefully today. Maybe we need to read it again. God has done much for us who are nothing. Let us praise his name today, tomorrow, and every day. Sing Psalter 406:3.

August 21 Read II Chronicles 20:20-30

Psalm 149:5-6 Here we have further exhortations for the people of God to praise him. We are to be joyful as we glorify God. Being joyful can sometimes be hard. It might be hard because of the circumstances that we are in. These circumstances might cause us to look upon the dark side of life. We may think that God has forgotten about us. But God calls us to be joyful. We might lie awake at night worrying about tomorrow and about the future; God calls for us to sing as we lie upon our beds. This call to be joyful must be answered by us. We must take a song upon our lips and his Word upon our hearts, and glorify him in whatever state that we may be in. Let us pray for that grace even when we might not feel like singing. Let us pray for the grace to sing songs of joy unto our gracious heavenly Father. Sing Psalters 406:4, 407:3, and 408:3.

August 22 Read Psalm 149

Psalm 149:7-9 The final verses of this chapter give to the people of God work to do. In verse six, we are commanded to take the praise of God in our mouths and his Word in our hands. These verses tell us that we must go in his service and conquer the evil and stand for the right. This is the battle that we are in everyday. At our workplaces we must stand up for the name of God. Positively we must exhibit the graces which become the child of God. Negatively we must rebuke those who scorn our righteous God. Young people, you must be busy about this work as well. Wherever you are, you must stand for God. You must fight sin and Satan. This is not easy, and it cannot be done in our strength. We must do this only with the Word of God in our hearts, on our lips, and in our actions. Let us serve God as he has called and commanded us to serve him. Let us do this in praise to the Lord. Sing Psalters 406:5 and 407:4.

August 23 Read Psalm 150

Psalm 150:1-2 We come to the grand doxology to the book of Psalms. In it the Psalmist makes one last grand exhortation to praise Jehovah the sovereign God of the covenant. Twelve times the word “praise” is used in this short Psalm. It is good for us to consider the idea of praise, as that is the meaning of the word “Psalm” in the Greek. Every Psalm, whether it be a praise Psalm, a Messianic Psalm, an imprecatory Psalm, or any of the other types is a Psalm of praise to our God. The word “praise” is paired with “him” nine times in this Psalm. We must praise him! Our God is worthy of our praise! In fact he is the only one worthy of our praise for all that he has done for us. Praise ye the Lord. Sing the first stanza of Psalters 409, 410, 411, 412, and 413.

August 24 Read Isaiah 38:16-20

Psalm 150:3-5 Once again we are called to use the musical instruments that God has given to us to praise him. We may not use these verses for a clamor to introduce all types of music into our worship service. The principles of solemn, Reformed, God-pleasing worship must be followed. But we are called to use all kinds of instruments to praise God. This can be done in the home, at school, at social occasions, and even at functions in the church building. But when we use them, we must praise God as he has commanded us to praise him. We may not be the judges of what praise is. Scripture is that judge. Let us praise the Lord using what he has given to us. Sing Psalter 409:2-4.

August 25 Read Psalm 150

Psalm 150:6 We come to the end of our journey through the Psalms and the Psalter. It is our desire that this has been as profitable and instructive for you as it has been for us. We have seen that God has given to us a book that covers most, if not all, of life’s circumstances. Whether young or old we may all profit from his Word as the Spirit has poured it out in this book. The last verse of the book calls everyone alive to praise the Lord. Are you attempting to praise the Lord, people of God, and especially our young people? Have you hid these precious words in your hearts so that you might not sin against him? Be God praisers, people of God, and know that he will surely be pleased with you in your praise of him, our almighty covenant God. Sing Psalters 409:5, and the second stanzas of 410, 411, 412, and 413.

August 26 Read Proverbs 1:1-9

We are going to spend some time in the book of Proverbs. Rather than travel through it verse by verse, we are going to look at various sections of the book. Sometimes we will focus on one verse, and sometimes we will look at more than one. This first section serves as an introduction to the book. God endowed Solomon with much wisdom. The Holy Spirit used this wise man as well as others to give to us this book. The book centers on wisdom as it must be manifest in our lives. Some of the book speaks of the life of sanctification that we must lead. There is much profit for young and old alike. In this first section we see that it is the duty of the child of God of all ages to seek after wisdom. We need knowledge which comes from having the fear of Jehovah. This wisdom must be seen by those around us, and it must be the beautiful wisdom found by grace. Sing Psalter 325.

August 27 Read Proverbs 1:10-19

Parents, make sure your young people read this section of Scripture. Grandparents call your grandchildren and teach them the knowledge found here. Young men and women, consent not to do evil. School is starting. With school comes social occasions for our young people. Sometimes these occasions lead our young people into sin. What must we do? Solomon gives to us the answer. “Consent thou not!” Don’t agree to walk into sin. Say no to those who would entice you to do evil. This is walking the way of the antithesis that is commanded by God. Adam and Eve had that commandment. The last man on earth will have that commandment. There is much evil to be found very near to us. People of God, “consent thou not!” Sing Psalter 27.

August 28 Read Proverbs 1:20-27

The wisdom that cometh from above is all around us. We can find that wisdom, first of all, in the Scriptures. But we can also find it in creation. God teaches us wisdom in the world around us. Are we studying those lessons? Are we learning those lessons? Are we paying attention to those lessons? Are we applying those lessons in our daily lives? This section also gives the results of not learning those lessons. If we do not walk in wisdom’s way, we will be of all men most miserable. We will have many problems in this life. Let us learn wisdom’s way and avoid sin’s pitfalls. Sing Psalter 114:6-10.

August 29 Read Proverbs 1:28-33

In this section we see a poetical device used often in this book. That device is called personification. It is most evident in verses 28 and 33. The word “me” refers to wisdom. Wisdom is speaking to all men. Some listen; some do not. What about you, young people? Do you listen to the catechism lessons that you have been taught? Are you ready to take up your work in school, catechism, and society with all your hearts? If you are not ready, you are ignoring the call of wisdom. You are called to be students. Some are more able and therefore are going to be held more responsible. Others do not have as many abilities, but they are still called to use those abilities to their fullest and to God’s glory. They must give account of themselves before God in the day of judgment. Wisdom calls; are we listening? Sing Psalter 71.

August 30 Read Proverbs 2:1-9

If you are reading this before church this morning, I hope that you are going to put its admonitions into practice. As the minister speaks, he is speaking the wisdom of Christ. Are we listening to that wisdom? Are we seeking to understand it? Are we working to learn more about its implications? Are we desirous to put it into practice today, tomorrow, throughout this week? There is much so called wisdom to be learned. But when it is weighed upon God’s balances, it will be found wanting. Stay away from that kind of wisdom, people of God, and seek the wisdom of the Lord. Sing Psalter 36:1-3.

August 31 Read Proverbs 2:10-22

One of the results of obtaining wisdom is the ability to be discrete. This attribute is mentioned in verse 11. People of all ages need to exhibit discretion in their lives. Parents must be discrete around their children. They must be discrete about many of life’s activities that are for adults only. This is not sheltering children and young people. Rather, this is not allowing them to be affected by things in life for which they are not ready. Young people must exhibit discretion when with their peers. Just because a matter is truth and fact does not mean that it has to be said. Young people must be discrete as they choose the clothing that they wear. Even our young children must learn discretion. Discretion’s reward is preservation in the life to come. Be discrete, people of God, and cultivate this grace in yourselves and in your children and young people. Sing Psalter 146:1-6.

September 1 Read Proverbs 3:1-12

This chapter, as well as others in this first section of Proverbs, begins with the words “My son.” Solomon gives instruction to sons of all ages. We do well to read these words often and see what instruction they have for us. Notice that in these words which admonish us to keep the law of the Lord is the requirement that we remember that our material wealth comes from the Lord. Our offerings must not be what is left on Sunday, but our offerings are to be from our paychecks before other bills are paid. This applies to you as well, young people. Giving to God from what he has given you is your responsibility as much as it is your parents. In doing this you will be honoring God and showing wisdom. Notice that there is a blessing in such an honoring. This blessing will be peace with God both now and in eternity. Sing Psalter 95.

September 2 Read Proverbs 3:13-26

From instruction concerning our material goods, Solomon goes back to instruction on wisdom. First of all he tells us that happiness is to be found in seeking and finding wisdom. This is a much different philosophy from that of the world. The world will tell us to seek after material wealth or man’s wisdom. This is not Solomon’s instruction to his son and is not God’s instruction to his sons. Seeking after God’s wisdom is more precious than any amount of money that we can obtain. Young people, during this school year, will your focus be on the wisdom of God or the world? You will learn worldly wisdom; by God’s grace you will also learn God’s wisdom. Pray for that grace. And parents, help your children and young people seek after the wisdom which comes from above. Sing Psalter 1.

September 3 Read Proverbs 3:27-35

Included in the instruction on wisdom is instruction on loving our neighbor. Can you help out those whom God places on your paths? Maybe the proper question is “Are you helping out those whom God has placed on your path?” Children, you have this opportunity in school. If your friend needs paper or a pen, do you willingly lend from your desk? Do you help those who have forgotten their lunches? Young people, are you characterized by your love for your peers? Adults, are you examples for your children and teenagers? There are many admonitions about loving the neighbor in Scripture. This is one of the ways in which we show our gratitude for our salvation. Are we truly grateful? Sing Psalter 305:1-5.

by John Huizenga

Psalm 31—“This song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung” (Spurgeon).

September 4 Read Psalm 31:1 & Psalter 80:1

We can not know the great power and love of our sovereign covenant God if we don’t know the greatness of our sins and miseries. Once again, we find David in the troubles and distresses of this life which lead to God through Christ. Are you distressed with family troubles, great loss, money problems, or discontent with your lot in life? Do these things weaken your faith and leave you miserable? Does it seem as though the ungodly neighbor is more happy and content than you? May God so work in your heart by the Spirit that you turn to God with these words of David every day as you walk as a child of God with your creator and redeemer. Shame is experienced when we are found wandering away from God in pursuit of our own self fulfillment and lust. God delivers his people from shame in “his righteousness,” i.e., his covenant faithfulness in which he never departs from his eternal plan to save. Sing the Psalter.

September 5 Read Psalm 31:2 & Psalter 80:2; 82:1

David uses language that demonstrates familiarity with God. He knows God as a Friend. He knows God is exalted infinitely above him, yet he does not hesitate to request that God, as it were, stoop down and listen to his plea like a child to his father. He prays that God would be to him a rock and a house. God is often called a rock in the Psalms, but we need to experience what this means. David wants to experience security and contentment in God. Fear has taken hold of him, he is weak and unable to go on. Every one of us has reason for such distress when we realize how far short we fall in our love and obedience to God. Meditate today upon your sins and pray this prayer of David. Sing the Psalter.

September 6 Read Psalm 31:3, 4 & Psalter 80:3; 82:2

Notice the titles of the two Psalters from which we are singing: “God Our Resort in Trouble” & “Security in God.” These titles reflect the theme of the first 18 verses of Psalm 31 and our devotions through the next week. We will see how David’s persistent request in time of need is turned into praise of God’s goodness. While seeking security in God, David brings before God various details and truths about his covenant life with God. In the verses we consider today, David recalls the truth that God is his rock and fortress. There are many things that we know about God also, but that does not mean our feelings and life reflect this knowledge. We need to pray to God as we know him, and seek the work of God in our heart to open our eyes to him. God is pleased to use the meditations of his people to work assurance of salvation and covenant fellowship. Sing the Psalter.

September 7 Read Psalm 31:5 & Psalter 80:4

Do you give over your life to Jehovah? This is something you must do continually. By nature we easily imagine that success in school, work, dating, friends, or marriage depends upon our own abilities, and we have no need of help from the outside. Though one may prosper in earthly things, one really has not begun to live until he commends his life to God in all things. It is not enough to depend upon our own abilities until we fail, and then, as a last resort, hand over our messed-up life to God. It is sometimes easier to commit our life to God after we have utterly failed and can do nothing else, but a godly walk requires that we learn to commend our lives each moment of the day. Knowing that God has washed away our sins, we know that the afflictions we face will draw us near to God, we know that God will bring a suitable marriage partner, too, in the time appointed, or give grace to live as a single. Above all, when we commend our lives daily, we will be ready to commend our life to God in death. Sing the Psalter.

September 8 Read Psalm 31:6, 7 & Psalter 80:5

Ungodly men thrive on lies as they seek to advance themselves in life. We all face the great temptation to present a false image of ourselves to gain attention and friends. Are you attracted to the popular people who in reality are putting on a big show? Many will say they want to be friends with people who are honest and true, but they will not seek God or friends who love God, in whom alone is truth. These people love the false. The child of God hates those who love lying vanities. Separate yourselves from the crowd that hovers around the deadly fumes of lying vanities and put your trust in the Lord. Meditate upon his Word. Have fellowship with his people. Stamp out the fires of lying when they appear in your life and friends. In God and his mercy you will find happiness and joy. Sing the Psalter.

September 9 Read Psalm 31:7, 8 & Psalter 80:6

Did you find happiness and joy in God’s mercy yesterday? By nature each one of us has been wooed by Satan, forsaken God, and boarded the train headed for the concentration camp of Satan— hell. By nature our pride lifts us up so that we are willing to forsake the good purpose of God for us, in favor of our own idea of happiness in the thrills of this world. An enemy has never had better hold of his captives than the devil with man. Man has no hope of escaping by himself, because he does not want to escape and is even dead in sin and powerless to escape should he want to. Neither does God have any obligation to rescue man. God is perfectly just in sending us with haste to eternal damnation. This truth is gloomy and terrifying indeed. The only hope is God’s mercy; his desire to deliver, and to reveal his glory and power in doing so. He comes in the power of His Spirit to open our eyes and make us alive to see our plight. Do you see? Sing the Psalter.

September 10 Read Psalm 31:9, 10 and Psalter 80:7

Who is God? We must all have a ready and accurate answer. So many people who may even call themselves Christians think of God as a Being Who is more powerful than the individual man and influences man, but does not have sovereign control and leaves the destiny of man in a large degree to man himself. The role of Jesus in salvation is minimized to his being a good example. Their concept of salvation is based on man’s ability to direct the affairs of the world. But God himself makes very clear what he wants man to know. God is the One who has eternally decreed that man fall into the rebellion and death from which he would save. Who is God? He is the Creator of all things, and known by the children of God from day to day as the One who is constantly delivering us from our guilt and shame. He is our Savior. Sing the Psalter “God Our Resort in Trouble.”

September 11 Read Psalm 31:11-13 and Psalter 80:8

The way in which we walk in covenant friendship with God is not bustling with friends who want to include you in their fun all the time. God often makes our way lonely from an earthly point of view in order to impress upon us the richness of friendship with God. David is crushed under the burden of his sin, and afflictions and human companions have forsaken him. Jesus experienced the dismay of friends who turned away when the disciples fled and Peter denied him. Job’s friends turned against him when they came with their criticisms. Though earthly friends are important, God uses hard times to separate us from ungodly friends and strengthen our bond with Christ Who never forsakes his own. Sing the Psalter.

September 12 Read Psalm 31:14, 15 and Psalter 80:9

“My times are in thy hand” sang David. These words are a most beautiful expression of God’s providence, a doctrine cherished by every believer and strongly defended by the Reformers in the Canons of Dordt, Fifth Head of Doctrine. God upholds every sparrow. He sends hurricanes and tornadoes. He maintains life of every form, and every believer confesses that every aspect of his or her life is in the hand of God. There are no “accidents” that just happen by cold chance. Statistics may determine your chance of getting hit by lightning or living to be 100, but statistics only reveal the constant work of God in and through the means he has established to work out his eternal plan. God is intently playing the instrument of your life in the grand orchestra of the universe for his glory and your salvation. Submit to God and pray that he will show you the joy of salvation. Sing the Psalter.

September 13 Read Ps. 31:15, 16 and Psalter 80:10

“Make thy face to shine upon thy servant,” sang David, another beautiful desire placed by God in the hearts of his children. This desire and its fulfillment is the fruit of “serious repentance” as we read in the Canons, Fifth Head, Article 5. Speaking of the times when the saints fall into sin, we read in the Canons “By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor, for a time, until on their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the light of God’s fatherly countenance again shines upon them.” Take the time now or sometime today to meditate upon the Fifth Head of the Canons and Rejection of Errors in the back of your Psalter. Sing the Psalter.

September 14 Read Psalm 31:17 and Psalter 80:11

Shame overwhelms when the hope which we defend and upon which we govern our actions and words and direct our entire life, is shattered and we stand exposed and naked to all who laugh at our foolishness. We hope in God who has revealed himself and the way of salvation in his Word. We struggle our whole life to flee the life of sin which God forbids, but the world enjoys. We strive to crucify our pride and give God all the glory. We believe God’s promise of life with him in heavenly glory after death. The world laughs and says “this life is all there is, get all you can now or you will forever miss out on life.” God gives us a taste of heavenly bliss now through the preaching of his Word and a life of obedience, but when times of doubt and sin overwhelm, the fear of shame may be strong. The world’s trust in science often challenges our hope in order to bring us to shame. We can be certain that God’s work will never come to naught. May we ever call upon God that we may never be ashamed. Sing the Psalter.

September 15 Read Psalm 31:18 and Psalter 80:12

Lying lips surrounded David with their incessant blather, they surrounded Christ as he taught in the cities and died on the cross, and they surround us today. The discontented factory worker spews forth vulgarities in every sentence, the scientist relentlessly scours God from every discovery, the “theologians” never give up trying to make myths of God’s Word. God speaks in all creation and from the pulpit “I AM” and man responds, “He is not, I am.” Lying lips; do you hear them and cry out to God that he silence them, or are you listening to them with indifference or even interest? Listen for lying lips today and pray each time you hear them “Let the lying lips be put to silence.” Watch your own lips too that they join not in the grievous speech against the righteous. Sing the Psalter.

September 16 Read Psalm 31:19 and Psalter 81:1

The new Psalter number sets forth the tones of praise which always follow the cries of God’s people in distress. God answered David’s prayer in such a way that David saw the riches of God’s goodness. Sin—Deliverance—Gratitude. This is the pattern of the Heidelberg Catechism. This is the pattern of the Psalms. This is the pattern of life. The better we know this pattern, the closer will be our walk with God. God is pleased to show us the riches of his goodness in the way of the troubles and distress of life which he sends. When you find yourself walking the valley of the shadow of death, you know what to do: pour out your heart to God, read his Word, listen to his Word in church. He will reveal to you something that is not revealed to the ungodly. He will reveal not only that he is good in himself, but also the effect of his goodness, i.e., the salvation wrought by Christ and tasted here on earth. Sing the Psalter.

September 17 Read Psalm 31:20 and Psalter 81:2

What are the riches of God’s goodness? He hides us in the secret of his presence. The idea here is that he gives his people a share in his own hidden life. He brings them into covenant friendship; into the sphere of his fellowship, a region where the brightness of his glory shines from his face in Christ, a region into which the ungodly are unable to go. Presently we find this secret sphere of God’s presence in the hearing of God’s Word which is wisdom to God’s people but foolishness to the ungodly. In this sphere we have peace which can never be quenched by the pride of man and the strife of tongues. Do you long for the day when we enter into eternal life with God, being forever in his presence? Seek the shelter of God’s grace whenever the pride of man and the strife of tongues penetrate your life. Sing the Psalter.

September 18 Read Psalm 31:21, 22 and Psalter 81:3

These verses tell us about another of God’s riches—his marvelous kindness. In the Psalter we sing “His love beyond compare.” David came to know the love of God through the experience of distress. God’s love is at the heart of all the riches of his goodness. When David thought about the goodness of God, he was reminded of his weakness. Even though he had felt that he had failed and was cut off from before God’s eyes, God did not forsake him. God loves his elect people and will never forsake them. Though we often speak words of foolishness in our haste and weak faith, God hears us in Christ. Let us also bless Jehovah for his steadfast covenant love. Sing the Psalter.

September 19 Read Psalm 31:23, 24 and Psalter 81:4

At the close of this Psalm, David exhorts the saints to love Jehovah and be of good courage. What a marvelous conclusion to a Psalm which began with sorrow and shame. God sovereignly works this love in our heart by means of sin and deliverance. We do not love God blindly, we love in faith knowing all that God has done for us. We read in I John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” David recognizes the love of God in the doctrine of God’s providence. God preserves those whom he has cleansed in Christ. In preserving his people, God rewards the proud doers with their just destruction. Thus a clear knowledge of the doctrine of reprobation which serves the doctrines of election and preservation is necessary for our love for God. May you also find courage in the wonderful works of God. Sing the Psalter.

September 20 Read Psalm 32:1, 2 and Psalter 83:1

Psalm 1 speaks of blessedness in a godly walk, and the Psalm we begin testifies of a blessedness that comes after being forgiven an ungodly walk. The sin of David which was covered was his sin with Bathsheba and killing Uriah. David wrote Psalm 31 before he confessed his sin and while experiencing terrible guilt, but he wrote this Psalm after the heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders. God uses this Psalm in Romans 4:6-7 to teach us that the great blessedness experienced by David comes to the child of God in the way of knowing the doctrine of justification by faith alone and not of our own works. This was a favorite Psalm for Augustine who also was delivered of great sin. Martin Luther also expressed his great delight and peace found in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. May you also know the happiness of forgiveness by God in this day. Sing the Psalter.

September 21 Read Psalm 32:3-5 and Psalter 83:2

Guilty silence, what a miserable condition. We sin against someone, we know it, but we are too proud to admit it. We feign joy and peace, we may even speak and talk freely with the one against whom we have sinned, but a wall stands between, and true fellowship is virtually silent. Meanwhile inside we are being ripped violently apart. Though outwardly silent about his guilt, David roared inside and his strength was wasted; all because he was proud and wanted to live in his sin. Left to ourselves, our pride would bring us to death. In grace, God sent Nathan the prophet to bring the sharp word of God which cut his festering sore and let the poison of his unconfessed sin drain out. Confession of sin is the only way to experiencing the blessed forgiveness of God. Pray that God would crush our pride and open our hearts to confession of sin. Sing the Psalter.

September 22 Read Psalm 32:6, 7 and Psalter 83:3

The child of God who desires covenant fellowship with God must never procrastinate to enter into that fellowship in all its fullness. David’s misery only increased when he refrained from seeking God’s forgiveness. It is very foolish to seek your own pleasure while you are healthy and strong and wait until you are in desperate need before seeking God. God is near right now as you meditate upon this portion of God’s Word. He is near in the preaching. May God open our eyes to see the great blessedness we receive when we confess our sins immediately. God saves his people by means of his presence in the preaching of his Word. Woe is he from whom God removes the preaching of his Word. Seek him diligently now while he may be found. Sing the Psalter.

September 23 Read Psalm 32:8, 9 and Psalter 84:1

The doctrines of sovereign grace are often criticized as doctrines which force men to obey God so that men become machines and not willing, joyful followers of Christ. God’s sovereign power over us, however, works in such a way that we are given new hearts and made willing followers of Christ. Yet, the old man of sin remains to make us sluggish and ignorant. Except God constantly and graciously guide and teach us, we would become ignorant and stubborn like a mule. Let us be diligent to study God’s Word that we might not be ignorant of God’s marvelous grace. We can not expect to be found in heaven when we wander in beastly ignorance and indifference to the preaching of God’s Word. Sing the Psalter.

September 24 Read Psalm 32:10, 11 and Psalter 84:2

Under God’s gracious guidance, his mercy shall compass us about. This means that when we walk in obedience to God through the trials in our lives, God will always be present and ready to lift us out of our miseries. Don’t imagine that a godly walk, due to the demands of God which are contrary to our sinful nature, is a way of greater sorrow than a walk in our own sinful desires. We have sorrow because we know our sin, but when we strive to walk in obedience, we will always be near unto God’s Word, and the consciousness of God’s mercy will quickly restore the joy of our heart when we fall. The ungodly try to cover up sorrow with more pleasure. They may appear happy, but it is only a mask. Those who are cleansed in the blood of Christ have every reason to rejoice. May this be a day of joy for you. Sing the Psalter.

September 25 Read Psalm 33:1-3 and Psalter 85:1

Praise is comely, i.e. beautiful and suitable for the righteous. You and I could do nothing better than praise Jehovah. How must we praise God? With our voice moved by our love for God. Musical instruments in themselves do not praise God except they help train your voice to lift up the best music possible. Our love for God, not music, must inspire us to sing. Highest praise comes from the lips of the godly saint who sings from the heart without the aid of musical instruments. Sing as loudly as you can without distorting the quality of your voice. Sing a new song. A new song does not mean a different song, but it is a song sung with zeal that is newly inspired by a deeper knowledge of God. Take the time to learn the music of this Psalter and so meditate upon the words that you can sing it joyfully from the heart without musical accompaniment.

September 26 Read Psalm 33:4, 5 and Psalter 85:2

We sing praises to Jehovah because his goodness fills the earth. The Word of Jehovah is in the Bible, and also includes the entire decree of God’s counsel according to which he created all things and governs them for the salvation of his people. In all of his words and works, God is good. We live in a world in which lying, pain, hate, and distress bring sadness and death, but God loves truth and lives in eternal bliss. All the scientific wonders and history of the earth reveal his goodness. Even sin and its terrible effects on the world reveal God’s goodness, because it is the means whereby God reveals the fullness of his grace to his people. We have much reason to praise God. Show forth his praise as you sing the Psalter.

September 27 Read Psalm 33:6, 7 and Psalter 85:3

We sing praise to Jehovah because he has created all the wonders of this world and the universe. The Word of God is Christ (John 1) and his Breath often refers to the Holy Spirit. Thus we praise the triune God. The very existence of every atom and the energy and life within the living creature is upheld each moment by God. He spoke and the massive stars and galaxies of the universe came into existence. If you stand by an ocean you can see the curve of the earth and it appears as though the water is in a big pile. God holds the water in place by the mysterious force of gravity which he has created and upholds every moment of the day. We must remember that God continues to uphold the creation which he created. For this, too, is a reason to sing praise to our God. Sing the Psalter.

September 28 Read Psalm 33:8-9 and Psalter 86:1

This Psalm of praise began with an exhortation to praise God, and gave reason for praise in the goodness of God and the wonder of creation and preservation of that creation. In the section covered by Psalter 86 everyone in the world is exhorted to stand in awe of and fear God for his providence and grace toward his people. The God who gathers his people to be with him in heaven has created the world to accomplish this purpose. Because the ungodly hate this fact and seek ever to erase it from their minds, God declares it in his Word so that they are unable to hide from God. The doctrine of providence causes the ungodly to tremble, but makes the godly lift up their hearts in praise. Do you find peace and joy in the doctrine of God’s providence? Meditate upon this doctrine today and sing the Psalm.

September 29 Read Psalm 33:10, 11 and Psalter 86:2

It is very common today to find people who confess faith in God and his salvation in Christ, but deny that his will and plan for them and the world never changes. They do this because they want man to have some control. Some who see the clear language of God’s sovereignty in Scripture say God sovereignly decided in his counsel to give man a will that is free to choose Christ if he wants. But God makes it plain that even though man has a will and nations make counsel to do this or that, it means nothing as far as the goal and purpose of man is concerned. God’s plan, his eternal and sovereign good pleasure, his counsel according to which he has created all things and governs them, stands certain forever. Nothing which he has created will interfere and change it. Blessed are we who belong to God! Sing the Psalter.

September 30 Read Psalm 33:12 and Psalter 86:3

Indeed the eternal counsel of God is reason for praise! We can be at peace knowing that everything is in God’s hands. The world is so big and so many things are happening every day. We watch developments in the nations and peoples of the world, stand helpless when denominations of churches slip into apostasy, and fear the power of the world will influence our churches and persecute the faithful. But God is in control of every event and heart of man in the world. Woe is he whose God is not Jehovah, whose god is evolution and the “forces of nature,” whose god is man. But we belong to the God who created all things and governs all things for our salvation and to his glory. Blessed indeed are we when we remain near unto him. Sing the Psalter.

October 1 Read Psalm 33:13-15 and Psalter 87:1

The psalmist sets forth yet another reason to praise God: his omniscience and omnipresence, doctrines which comfort God’s people in the midst of an ungodly world. Jehovah is exalted above all that is created and looks down upon man which he has placed on earth to care for the earth and live in obedience to him in love. He gave to man a mind and body suited for his service. But what does he see? We know that God is angry with man, who has forsaken Jehovah and serves himself in pride and rebellion. Remember, God is also watching your every move. What does God see when he looks at you and considers your works? Does he see a humble and repentant sinner who hates his sin? Does he see one who seeks a refuge in Christ? Do not look to man for your salvation, come to Christ alone that your works may be seen in him. Sing the Psalter.

October 2 Read Psalm 33:16-19 and Psalter 87:2

Does not a king depend upon his army to deliver the kingdom from the invading enemy? Does not a man depend upon his strength to fight off the foe? Would not a horse be invaluable to escape from danger? Human strength and physical power may preserve earthly life for a time, but the preservation of life in time itself only brings every man closer to death. Forget earthly strength. Behold, look over here, look at Jehovah who rules over all. His eye is on those that fear him and hope in his mercy. His goal and his aim in all things is his glory in their salvation. Devote all your attention to that which is important: a right knowledge of God and his counsel. He is gathering his church. Are you busy in that work? Go to God in prayer and ask how he might use you and show you his great salvation. Sing the Psalter.

October 3 Read Psalm 33:20-22 and Psalter 87:3

Above all things, the child of God seeks God’s mercy. All the virtues and truths about God’s glory, righteousness, power, and providence bring fear to the sinner apart from the assurance of God’s mercy revealed in Christ. It is important that we know God as our help and shield. It is important to know God and put our trust in him. In all our spiritual growing and hearing God’s Word, we must always pray “Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Our hope is rooted in our faith, which is given to us by God. Our hope grows as we grow in our knowledge of God. We must seek to know God’s mercy revealed to us in Christ with every particle of hope that we have. When we live in peace, our heart shall rejoice, and we will render the praise due unto him. Sing the Psalter.

July 4 Read I Samuel 19:18-21

Psalm 143:9-10 In verse ten we have the words, “Teach me to do thy will.” We should all take heed to these words and make them part of our daily prayers. By nature we do not wish to do Jehovah’s will. In fact by nature we wish to do the opposite of Jehovah’s will. The psalmist knew, and we must learn this as well, that God’s way is best for us. God’s spirit is good the verse says. Is this our testimony? Let us learn the will of God. Let us walk in that will. Let us bow before Jehovah’s teaching as he leads us into the land which flows with milk and honey where we will receive our eternal reward with the whole church triumphant. As we prepare to enter God’s house tomorrow, let us go to sleep with this prayer on our lips, “Teach me to do thy will.” Sing Psalters 389:5, 390:3, and 391:2-3.

July 5 Read Psalm 143

Psalm 143:11-12 In verses seven through twelve of this Psalm we have a series of pleas from the Psalmist. There are ten of these petitions. Take the time this Lord’s Day to find them and ponder their meaning. Do this personally and also with your families. The last five words of the Psalm give the reason why David could make these petitions. He knew that he was the servant of Jehovah. Only one who depends on a master can plead for such help. Is this our plea? Do we confess that we are God’s servants? Did we worship that way today? Do we live that way throughout the week? Let us think about being a servant, and then let us seek the help of our Master the almighty God. Only in that way can we find the good life here on this earth, but especially in our heavenly home. Sing Psalters 389:6 and 391:4.

July 6 Read Psalm 144

Psalm 144:1-2 In this Psalm of praise, David blesses Jehovah who is everything to him. David has experienced much in his life. Throughout his life David has learned that in all things he must trust Jehovah. David acknowledges that he is a man of war. Even in this he knows that he has done all things only with God’s help. It was not the man David who “killed his ten thousands;” it was Jehovah who had made that possible. Do we, in the station and calling that God has placed us, acknowledge Jehovah as the One who gives to us the abilities to carry out that station? Do we daily give credit only to God? We must do this, you know. To do anything else is to claim that we have abilities of ourselves. In claiming that, we would claim that we have a part in our salvation. This we may never do. Let us daily praise God who doeth all things in and through us. Sing Psalter 392:1.

July 7 Read Hebrews 2:1-10

Psalm 144:3-4 David continues in his confession that he is nothing and God is everything. Here we see the same words as used in the familiar Psalm 8. These words were repeated in the book of Hebrews as its writer prepares the defense that Christ, alone, is the source of salvation. David looked back at his life; from man’s point of view it looked illustrious; from his enlightened eyes he saw it for what it really was: nothing! Can we do this? Do we do this? Do we claim credit for our accomplishments and even for our salvation? If we do, we are sadly mistaken. We are making ourselves puffed up with pride and are in danger of falling as those who have committed the dreadful sin of pride. Let us confess that man is nothing, emptiness. Let us fall upon our knees now and daily and give all glory to God. Sing Psalter 392:2.

July 8 Read Isaiah 64:1-8

Psalm 144:5-6 David had many enemies in this life. Just contemplate the account of Samuel as he ran from Saul and later became king. But David realizes that these were not just his enemies; more importantly he realized that these were God’s enemies. He understood that these men were the agents of Satan, who were trying to rid the world of the church and to prevent Christ from coming to save his people from their sin. Therefore he prayed this imprecatory prayer for deliverance. Do we use this language today? Are we so jealous for the cause of Christ in this world that we pray such a prayer? We should and we must for this is the will of God. Sing Psalter 392:3.

July 9 Read Judges 5:24-31

Psalm 144:7-8 David continues his plea for help against those who war against him and God. Now he gives the basis for that plea. The wicked are fountains of lies and deceit. They constantly take God’s Word and deceitfully use it. We, too, must be zealous about God’s Word. Like David we must be offended at the misuse and mistreatment of that Word. Are we? Do we, as a course of habit, express our dislike of the misuse of God’s Word, name, attributes, and works? This is unpopular, you know. We, in America, like to claim freedom of speech in all things. This misuse of God’s things is not covered under the freedom of speech. Let us use God’s Word correctly in our lives and let us be jealous for that Word in our daily lives. Sing Psalter 392:4.

July 10 Read Revelation 5:6-14

Psalm 144:9-10 In gratitude for his deliverance, David declares that he will sing a new song of thanksgiving unto God. It is a new song because it is not polluted with man’s sin. It is God’s song written for his praise. These verses show to us a correct interpretation of the Heidelberg Catechism on this point. We must have knowledge of our sin. We must confess that our deliverance is only through the blood of Christ. And we must give gratitude for such deliverance. This gratitude is not legislated by man’s ordinances; this gratitude comes from a thankful new heart given by God. Let us praise God daily for our salvation and let us do it with the songs that he has given to us. We need to use no other words! Sing Psalter 392:5.

July 11 Read Nehemiah 13:23-31

Psalm 144:11 In today’s text we find reference to a problem that the church of all ages has experienced. There are those in the church who are strange because they have no use for God. In today’s reading, Nehemiah found the same problem in Jerusalem after the captivity. This problem, too, is common in the church of all ages. There are “strangers” there brought in when men and women of the church marry men and women in the world. True, God can bring someone into the church from the outside. Think of Rahab or Ruth. But this is the exception not the rule. God saves his people in the line of continued generations. Parents, pray for your children that they do not bring strange children into God’s church. Sing Psalter 392:6.

July 12 Read III John 1-11

Psalm 144:12 Why must we keep those who speak a mixed language out of the congregation? The answer is given in the beautiful words of today’s text. We do this for our children’s sake. We are not isolationists. We are not elitists as some would claim. We are a people who must care for the covenant seed that God has given to us. As a farmer rids his farm of weeds so that the desired plants can have all the nutrients, the Church of Christ must make sure that her sons and daughters receive all the spiritual nutrients showered upon them by God. As a mason chips away all unneeded parts of a rock so that he can have the right one for his building, so must we chip away the pollution of sin out of our children’s lives. This is an awesome calling. Let us pray for the grace to carry it out. Sing Psalter 393:1.

July 13 Read Leviticus 26:1-13

Psalm 144:13-14 When we do all that is possible to nurture the covenant seed, God will bless us with spiritual plenty. Even though the text speaks of physical things, we know that these are pictures of the spiritual. It is true that our physical lives are affected by our spiritual strength and weakness. But we must be concerned about the spiritual climate in the church and in our congregations. Why? Simply because it is the Church of Christ, and it is our duty to be jealous toward the body of Christ. To do anything but to care for our children in the best way possible is to cause the church to go into ruin. Root out those evils in our houses and in our lives that are damaging to God’s children. Pray for the strength to bring those children up in the fear of Jehovah. In doing this God will bless us both in this life and in the life to come. Sing Psalter 393:2.

July 14 Read Psalm 144

Psalm 144:15 In the first verse of this chapter David speaks well of Jehovah and his works. In this final verse he declares that the people of God are blessed or happy in the way of their keeping the Word of Jehovah. A happy church is not one which has a social program for every need that can be imagined. A happy church is not one whose order of worship is “up-to-date and meaningful.” A happy church is one which brings its children up in the fear of the Lord. This church catechizes its children and young people diligently in God’s Word. The parents and elders make sure that catechism as well as church is attended faithfully with no thought of skipping for some “good” reason. The happy church is one which loves God’s Word and teaches its children to love God’s Word. Is ours a happy people? If not, why not? When God is Lord over all things in our lives, we will be happy. We do not make him Lord; he is Lord! And we must bow to him in all that we do. Sing Psalter 393:3.

July 15 Read Psalm 145

Psalm 145:1-3 In these opening verses of this beautiful Psalm of David, we find David giving all glory to God. As we have said before, David had a life in which many men would like to boast. David accomplished many things which would land him in all sorts of halls of fame in this world. As David neared the end of his life, he saw that all of his accomplishments were little in comparison to the greatness of God. Children and young people, have you fallen prey to the philosophy of the world that you have to be number one in this life? If you have, reread these verses and reread them daily. Our greatness is nothingness. God’s greatness is everything. Let this be our daily confession. Sing Psalters 394:1, 397:1, and 399:1.

July 16 Read Psalm 78:1-8

Psalm 145:4-5 Summer time! Parents, are you instructing your children? Catechism has recessed. We are in the middle of school summer vacation. Who is teaching the covenant seed? Is it the television? Is it some day care worker? Is it a baby sitter? Is it Satan? Parents, who is instructing your children this summer? We have much to teach our children about God. What better time to do it than when our children are not encumbered with the busyness of school and other activities. We need to tell the Bible stories to them. We need to show our children God’s hand in nature. Are we making the most of our opportunities this summer? If not, why not? Sing Psalters 394:2, 397:2-3, and 399:2.

July 17 Read Acts 4:19-31

Psalm 145:6-8 We need to contemplate the truth of verse eight daily. Our sins rise up before God and in his righteous anger we should be destroyed in and because of our sin. But in his righteousness, God is also merciful. He loves us with a love that cannot be found on this earth. He is gracious to us poor sinners and gives to us eternal life with him in heaven. As we busy ourselves this summer with all of our plans, let us stop and contemplate this truth. Then let us fall upon our knees and pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Sing Psalters 394:3 and 397:4, 5.

July 18 Read John 1:9-18

Psalm 145:9 One of the truths that we must teach our children is the goodness of God. This goodness extends to the whole creation as the whole creation goes about its calling to glorify God. Are we in the middle of drought? God is good! Has a dreadful storm ravaged our town? God is good! Have you seen the beautiful sunset? God is good. Even the lilies know the goodness of God. Even the sparrows are under his watchful eyes. God is good; of that there is no doubt. Are we teaching that goodness to our children? Are we teaching them about the ultimate goodness of God? That goodness, of course, is his great love for his people expressed in his sending his Son to die for their sins. God is good. What a truth! Sing Psalters 395:1 and 397:6.

July 19 Read Romans 8:19-27

Psalm 145:10-11 Do we confess the greatness and goodness of God to those around us? Our children must learn to do this even as they mingle with others. Our young people need to be guided to make public confession of faith before God and his church. The whole church must publicly confess God, his goodness, and his love in whatever place we are put in this life. This means that in the workplace we must rebuke those who sin. We must give God the glory when it is due to him. Our children must learn to sing and listen to the songs of Zion and not of Satan as they are with their peers. They will not do this if they are instructed by those who do not confess every truth of God. We must open our mouths daily and in all places and speak about the glory of our great God. Pray for the grace to do that, and pray for your children as well. Sing Psalters 395:2, 397:7, and 399:3.

July 20 Read I Kings 10:1-13

Psalm 145:12 There are two accounts of a king of Israel or Judah showing his kingdom to a worldly monarch. Here we have Solomon’s experience with the queen of Sheba. Later on Hezekiah shows his kingdom to ambassadors from Babylon. Christ mentions the Queen of Sheba’s visit while he was on this earth. With this example he condemns those who do not believe him. God reprimands Hezekiah because of his sin of pride. We, like Solomon, must speak of what God has done in our lives and not what we have done. We must make “I” a little used word in our vocabulary except when daily confessing our sins. Let us give God the glory due to his name. Sing Psalter 395:3.

July 21 Read Micah 4:1-7

Psalm 145:13 One truth that should afford us great comfort is that God’s kingdom is everlasting. It has no beginning and no ending. Nothing can threaten its existence. No power, whether earthly or otherwise, can overthrow it. Satan attempted to do so throughout the Scriptures. But God always, by his power, said I am King. This is great comfort for the child of God. We need not fear anything that may happen upon this earth. As Paul in Romans 8 confesses, “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” Let us hold on to these comforting words. Let us rest assured that nothing will harm us since our King’s kingdom is everlasting. Sing Psalters 395:4 and 397:8

July 22 Read John 5:1-9

Psalm 145:14 The people of God in this life are often the weak in this world. We constantly fall either because of our sinful nature or because we are oppressed by those that hate the cause of Christ and his gospel. But each time we fall, we find our God picking us up and setting us on our feet once more. When we are oppressed in the world, He makes it possible for us to hold up our heads proudly and to say, “My God is Jehovah.” The prophets in the Old Testament knew this. The afflicted in Christ’s day felt his personal healing hand upon them. This can be our confidence today as well. No matter how we are afflicted, God will hold us up. Let us make that part of our daily prayers to him. Sing Psalter 396:1.

July 23 Read Matthew 6:25-34

Psalm 145:15-16 In this day of plenty, it is hard for us to look unto Jehovah for the fulfillment of our physical needs. Most of us have food enough for day, week, and even several months stored up in our houses. Most of us have much in the way of clothing. We have houses that protect us from all types of weather. Our physical bodies are cared for by doctors through means of modern medicine. But yet we must look upon our heavenly Father for all of our spiritual needs. He is the Giver of every good thing. He will supply all of our needs. Let us pray daily for our daily bread and wait upon the open hand of God for all things. Sing Psalters 396:2 and 398:1.

July 24 Read James 4:1-12

Psalm 145:17-18 It is the experience of the child of God that he has needs. These needs may be spiritual or they may be physical. Usually they are a combination of the two. Just as a child cries out in the night for his mother or father, the child of God will cry out in this night of sin for his heavenly Father. The earthly child has confidence that his parents will attend to his needs. He knows that mom or dad is just in the next room. The child of God can also have the same trust and confidence. His heavenly Father is always near to him and is always ready to help him. When the elect call upon God, he will help them because he is near. Let us rest in that confidence each day of our lives. Sing Psalter 396:3.

July 25 Read I John 5:12-21

Psalm 145:19 What is our heart’s desire, people of God? Is it wealth, health, or earthly happiness? Do we desire the well-being of our children? Are we concerned about our last days on this earth before death closes our eyes? What is our desire? According to this text, the elect have a desire. This desire is very different from that of the wicked. Oh, we might share their desires at times, and our earthly desires might even overshadow our one true desire. We desire eternal bliss. This cannot be achieved by any thing that happens on this earth. There is nothing that we can do to achieve it. We know this quite well. But we need not despair. God is near unto us; he will hear our cries; and he will save us. What a beautiful truth and comfort this verse is! Meditate on it daily and through the night. Sing Psalters 396:4 and 398:2.

July 26 Read I Peter 1:3-12

Psalm 145:20 This verse is an example of the well-known Hebrew antithetical parallelism. This is a poetic device used quite often in the Psalms and in Proverbs. The second part of the verse provides a stark contrast to the first part. These two parts are absolute concepts. God will save the elect; God will destroy the wicked. There are only two kinds of people in this earth: elect and reprobate. Every human being is one or the other. God takes the elect to heaven; he condemns the wicked to hell. There is no other final destiny for any person in this life. Because these are two sure things, we can rejoice in them. We rejoice in that God’s word is sure, and that he will take us to our final glory. Let us ponder these things as we attend church and worship the sovereign God. Sing Psalter 396:5.

July 27 Read Psalm 145

Psalm 145:21 David has come full circle in this Psalm. He starts out by proclaiming that he will bless God for his greatness. Then he recounts many of these greatnesses in the Psalm. In this last verse he again says that he will bless God and he calls on others to do so as well. Is this what we do? Do we bless God publicly? Do we encourage and even command others to do so as well? This is our command in this life. Let us bless God from whom all blessings flow. Sing Psalters 396:6 and 398:3.

July 28 Read Psalm 146

Psalm 146:1-2 This is the first in a group of Psalms which is a doxology for the whole book of Psalms. Their theme is quite simple. Praise ye the LORD. Another way of saying this is Hallelujah! We might wonder why so much space is given over to this theme. But then we must remember whom we are praising. Then as the psalmist states in verse 2, we realize that we must praise the Lord every day of our lives. Every breath which comes from our mouths must have Jehovah’s praise in it. This is a foreign idea in this day and age of man-praising. We would rather praise others and especially ourselves than to praise God. As we study and meditate upon these Psalms, let us learn about the praise of our covenant God. Sing Psalters 400:1 and 401:1.

July 29 Read Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

Psalm 146:3-4 One of the first reasons for praising Jehovah is simple: who is man? Why should we praise him or even trust in him? Man is a creature whose days upon this earth are numbered. We cannot be sure that a man will be here the next day to help us. We cannot be sure that a man is even trustworthy since by nature he is not. God, on the other hand is eternal. He will always be here. He is trust in himself. When he makes a promise, we can be assured that it will be carried out. Don’t trust in man, people of God, trust in God, and you will never be disappointed. Sing Psalters 400:2 and 401:2.

July 30 Read Matthew 5:1-12

Psalm 146:5 Do you want happiness in this life? This is a question that is found in advertising. It is found on the lips of doctors of all types. It is found as the titles and themes of countless books and magazine articles. In this verse we find the formula for happiness. To be happy we must have God as our help. When God is our aid we will truly be blessed. We will be able to put our hope in something that will stand forever. This is not an uncertain hope, but rather it is a certain and sure hope. We will find true and blessed peace and happiness in this life when Jehovah is our God. Sing Psalter 400:3.

July 31 Read Genesis 1:1-13

Psalm 146:6 The next few verses of this Psalm explain who the God of our trust is. The psalmist first identifies him as the Creator of all things. This is both basic and necessary. If we do not believe that God is the supreme Creator, we might as well give up immediately. To dismiss the truth of creation is to dismiss all truths. We see this truth in the words of Jeremiah 33:25-26: “Thus saith the Lord; if my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.” Throw away the doctrine of creation as it is laid out in Scripture and you can throw away the rest of Scripture with it as well, including our salvation. It is that plain! Sing Psalter 400:4.

August 1 Read I Kings 17:8-16

Psalm 146:7-8 The next identification of our God is that he is help of the helpless. In this world God has made many to be oppressed. This oppression can be caused by many things. It could be sin, physical disability, or affliction of men. No matter what the cause is; God is our help. We can trust in him to deliver us from all manner of oppression. Now this deliverance may not be as miraculous as the widow of Zarephath. It may be that our deliverance may be the “no” that the apostle Paul received concerning the thorn in his flesh. But this we know, that God’s grace is sufficient for us. Because of this we can trust in him and trust that he will care for us in all circumstances in this life. The reason for his care upon us? It is simple: he loves us. Sing Psalters 400:5 and 401:3.

August 2 Read I Kings 17:17-24

Psalm 146:9 Once again we come upon antithetical parallelism. You remember what that is, do you not? If not, just go back a few days and read the explanation. The historical account that we have read the past two days fits well with these verses. This widow who was a Gentile had a hard life. She was a widow, she was poor, and eventually her son died. Into her life God brought Elijah and a word of grace. In seeing the miracles she tasted the goodness of God. There were many widows in her town, but she was special because she was chosen by God to taste of his grace. The others who trusted in Baal were turned upside down in their affliction, but this widow was set on high. Trust in Jehovah who cares for his people because he loves them. Sing Psalter 400:6.

August 3 Read Psalm 146

Psalm 146:10 This Psalm, as all others in this section, ends how it starts: “Praise ye the LORD.” After reading this Psalm, is that your confession, people of God? Young people, are you willing to have the praise of Jehovah fill your mouths? Do you let the world of your friends know that Jehovah must receive the praise and not man. Have you turned off the man-boasting songs on your audio equipment and replaced them with God’s praises? This is not just the psalmist’s confession; it is his command as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write this words. Praise Jehovah. Hallelujah to him who reigns forever and ever. Praise ye the LORD. Sing Psalters 400:7 and 401:4.

 

Dear John,

Thank you for your courage in publishing your editorial in the November, 2007 Beacon Lights titled “Smoke-filled Rooms—Let’s Move on.”

We are in total agreement with your expressed views.

In Christian love,

Joe & Mary Schutz
2706 S. Early Dawn Lane
Spokane Valley, Washington

Dear John,

What a delightful experience to read your article in the youth magazine. You addressed a critical problem.

I recall when we were visiting different Protestant Reformed Churches, that I saw the pail for butts at the back door. It almost dissuaded us from attending the P.R. Church.

As recently as this past Sunday, I had a disappointing experience. We have a fine young elder. I had heard several months ago that he had stopped smoking. Then Sunday I saw him in the circle of smokers. I was so disappointed. This circle of men gather after church to have their smokes. It is strange that they are bound together with a cigarette.

I wish that our two elders who smoke would quit. It would strengthen their witness before me.

When our daughter had to change schools for her 10th grader she addressed the principal at Covenant on the subject of smoking. It was a frightening prospect to place her daughter in a school where smoking was not more severely frowned upon.

I hope your article has a wide reading. Thank you for placing the matter so clearly before us all.

Yours truly,

Peter J. Breen

October 16 Read Psalm 18:25-36

Who is God? “God is God” were the first words spoken by Rev. H. H. Hoeksema during the first Reformed Witness Hour broadcast. To know God is to know his attributes. As the people of God, we must know who he is. Our goal in this next series of devotionals will be to know God by learning about his attributes. By knowing God we can serve him and glorify him. Let us remember and confess that God is God and there is none like him. Sing Psalter 316.

October 17 Read Psalm 69:16-30

In yesterday’s Psalter number we sang about a few of God’s attributes. We will look at God’s lovingkindness today. We read in this Messianic prophecy of his lovingkindness towards his own Son. It is the same lovingkindness that he provides for us. No matter what the circumstances, he is always with us. He is loving because he is our Father. He is kind because we are his children. With his arms he holds us and keeps us in his care. Sing Psalter 187.

October 18 Read Isaiah 49:14-21

God is faithful. Of that we have no reason to doubt. He will care for us at all times. We never have to doubt our salvation. In his faithfulness he watches over us. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful. In this world, fathers and mothers leave even very young children. But as we read in today‘s text, God will never leave us. We can be assured that he will faithfully see us through this life into glorious eternity. Sing Psalter 72.

October 19 Read III John

God is truth. Because truth is his, we know most assuredly that our salvation is sure. There is no truth in the world apart from God. We know that even our best words are lies because they are polluted with sin. But with God it is not so. By faith we can know that he is truth and speaks the truth at all times. When our children walk in that truth, we have the greatest joy possible in this life. Is that your desire, young people, to walk in God’s truth? Sing Psalter 68.

October 20 Read Ephesians 1:4-12

God is gracious. What a beautiful truth! We, who see sin all around us and in us, can be comforted that God is gracious. What is grace? Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards those he has chosen in Christ. Notice, it is unmerited. Nothing that we can do can save us. There is nothing that we must or can do. That alone is comforting because we know who we are. It is favor. God loves us. In that love he has favored us with salvation. This grace is only towards the elect. As God’s people we can begin and end each day in the confidence that God is gracious towards us. I know that the elderly understand this attribute well. May our young people and children learn to grow in the grace of God. Sing Psalter 164.

October 21 Read Revelation 4

One truth of God that is denied in the world today is his sovereignty. Few want God to be in control of every aspect of their lives. Man wants to be in control, and if God is sovereign, man has no control. Those who believe in evolution deny God’s sovereignty. Those who deny certain parts of Scripture want nothing to do with God’s sovereignty. When we acknowledge the power of God, we truly understand who God is. When we honestly look at our lives, we will confess that only by God’s sovereignty all things work for our good. Deny God’s sovereignty and you will have nothing on to which to hold. Sing Psalter 266.

October 22 Read Lamentations 3:18-26

Our God is merciful. What a blessed truth! He is merciful in that by his grace we are not destroyed on account of our sins. He is merciful in that he cares for us in this world of sin. Mercy is a beautiful attribute because we become aware of it each and every day as the prophet said in today’s reading. God’s mercy is everlasting. It never wears out or runs out. Men can be merciful to a creature or to each other, but a change in mood can do away with that mercy. This is not so with God. God is always merciful, and that mercy is always sufficient. People of God, meditate on that mercy each and every day and then give thanks to our merciful God. Sing Psalter 281.

October 23 Read John 17:1-8

At the beginning of this set of devotionals we spoke of knowing God. Well, we cannot know God if God is not knowable. There are subjects in this world that are mysteries to some of us. Some of us cannot fathom nuclear physics or quantum mechanics, or even auto mechanics. We are unable to know them. But one of God’s attributes is that we can know him. By his Word and creation we can know our heavenly Father. This knowledge is not just head knowledge. It is the comforting knowledge of a God who loves us. He reveals himself to his people in a special way. Through Christ we can gain a knowledge that comforts us in whatever station of life that we find ourselves. Through our knowledge of God we can rest assured that he is our God and we are his people. Sing Psalter 64.

October 24 Read John 4:21-26

One of God’s attributes is that he is spiritual. Now this is not an easy concept to understand. Maybe the easiest way to begin to understand this idea is to know that God is neither earthly nor created. By understanding these ideas, we can dismiss many of the misconceptions of God that are in the world today. Because God is spiritual, he is invisible, indivisible, and independent. These are just a few of the aspects of God who is spiritual. Because God is spiritual, we can rely on him trusting that he has no earthly or creaturely failings that characterize us. This also tells us how we must worship him. As Christ said we must worship him “in spirit and in truth”. God is not a God to be worshiped in any other way than he has appointed in his Word. Let us worship him who is spirit in this way and in this way only. Sing Psalter 204.

October 25 Read Romans 11:30-36

Two days ago we spoke of God’s knowability. Today we will look at his knowledge. There are two types of knowledge that God has. First of all there is that knowledge which he has toward his creation. Because of this knowledge nothing can hide from God. His eyes are upon all aspects of his creation. His knowledge compasses all things. This is not the knowledge that man has. Man’s knowledge is flawed. Man’s knowledge about creation is limited. God’s knowledge is perfect and unlimited. The second part of that knowledge is God’s knowledge of love towards his people. This, too, is a special knowledge. It is specific towards those whom he has chosen in Christ. It is love for them by which he sent his Son to die on the cross. God’s knowledge is wonderful surpassing any knowledge that man can have. Let us be thankful that he knows us and cares for us. Sing Psalter 325.

October 26 Read Psalm 145:14-21

God is righteous. Because God is righteous, we have great comfort. His righteousness means that he will not change. There is no error in him. He is holy, and in that holiness what he says and proclaims will surely come to pass. In God’s righteousness he gives to his people salvation, which will surely come to pass. In doing this he imputes to us wretched sinners righteousness. Because of this we can be assured that our salvation is sure; that he will take us to everlasting glory. God’s righteousness brings to us comfort at the grave of a loved saint. We mourn their leaving us, but we do not have to mourn their next state. God is righteous; he takes his loved ones to him. Because God is righteous, we must be thankful to him for our salvation. Let us do this as we sing and turn to him in prayer. Sing Psalter 192:1, 2, 5 & 6.

October 27 Read Numbers 14:13-19

Our God is a longsuffering God. He is longsuffering towards his people who are sinners. In his longsuffering he sees us as we sorrow. This could be the sorrow over sin either in ourselves or in someone we love. Because God is longsuffering he helps us come to him in our sad condition. He helps us find the way to walk in the right path or help someone to walk on that path. He also is longsuffering towards his people as they suffer through pain or even death. In his longsuffering he is merciful and helps us to find grace in time of need. He will wipe away our tears when no one else can. We wait for Christ’s return. Has God forgotten us? No, in his longsuffering towards his people, he cares for us each and every day until Christ does return. Be comforted in these things, beloved people of God. Sing Psalter 191:1, 2 & 4.

October 28 Read Psalm 90:1-9

“From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.“ What comforting words are these to God’s people. God is eternal. Because he is eternal we know that he will always be just as he has always been. Because he is eternal, he is unchangeable. In contrast to man who is like grass, God never will pass away. Because he will never pass away none of his attributes will pass away. We can always be assured of his mercy, love, grace, truth, and so forth. Especially we can be sure of our salvation. Young people, you have not lived long on this earth. Talk to your grandparents. They will tell you of the comfort derived from the fact that God is the eternal unchangeable one. Sing 247.

October 29 Read I John 4:7-16

One of God’s most amazing but most misunderstood attributes is his love. It is amazing because God loves those who of themselves cannot love him. He loves those who of themselves do not want to love him. In fact he loves those who quite often hate him. It is misunderstood primarily because many wish to believe that God loves all men. Nothing can be farther from the truth. God’s love, like his grace, is particular. It is particular to those whom he has chosen. Because God loves us, we must love others. This is one of his communicable attributes. We cannot love like God, but we must love out of thankfulness for his love towards us. Do this today, people of God of all ages. Let us love God and also love our neighbors as ourselves. Sing Psalter 79.

October 30 Read Isaiah 6:1-7

Our God is a holy God. His holiness stands opposed to this unholy world. He is spotlessly clean in all his ways. There is no spot of wrongdoing to be found in God. We cannot or may not question God because he is holy. Because he is holy, all that is connected to him must be holy. His word is holy and therefore must be believed. His worship must be holy. And most importantly his people must be holy. We are called to be holy. Of ourselves we cannot do this. By his grace we can. Young people, do you seek holy entertainment with your friends? Do you seek the holy things of God? God is holy, and we, his people, must too be holy. Sing Psalter 265.

October 31 Read Daniel 2:17-23; 28-30

God is all-wise. Wisdom is different than knowledge. Wisdom is that proper use of knowledge for some purpose. For God that purpose is the salvation of his people. God’s wisdom is high. It is past our understanding. It is alive, and in its life it brings us to glory. God’s wisdom brings his church to his appointed end. That is what we celebrate today. The great Reformation was ordained by a wise God for his glory. It was ordained to bring his church to glory. What comforting thoughts we can have today. Let us remember them when we celebrate Reformation Day. Finally, Christ is God’s wisdom. Our Savior was made wisdom for us in order that we could be saved. Sing Psalter 42.

November 1 Read James 1:16-25

Our God is unchangeable. A term we use for this attribute is immutable. This is a comforting thought to us. Because God is unchangeable, he will keep the covenant that he has established with us. Man breaks promises he makes. We see this in the ugly sin of divorce. God, however, will never divorce his people. No matter how unfaithful we are, God is immutable. He will keep us in that covenant that he and only he has established with us in Christ. Young people, you do not have to look to the future in fear. God will not change. Just as he has cared for your parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, he will care for you. He will care for his church of which you are a member. He cared for the church of the Old Testament, of the New Testament, of the Reformation, of today, and of the future. Because he will not change, he will care for his church into eternity. Sing Psalter 275.

November 2 Read Job 42:1-6

God’s attributes are interconnected. We have become aware of that fact even as we have studied them. The attribute of God’s omnipotence is no different. God cannot be omnipotent without being sovereign. God cannot be omnipotent without being immutable. We could go on and on. Being omnipotent means that God is all-powerful. His power extends over all parts of creation. We see this during hurricane season, tornado season, and now as we in the Northern hemisphere are beginning to experience winter season. We see God’s power in the storms, but we do not have to fear. He has power over the storm. True, God’s people have been killed in storms. But that does not mean God lost his power, but rather God in his power used the storm to take his people to glory. God’s omnipotence gives to us the comfort that no other power can separate us from his love. Sing Psalter 241:1, 7-9.

November 3 Read John 5:25-31

We have alluded to God’s independency before. God is God means God is independent. He was not created. He was not “dreamed up” by someone. God was, and is, and is to come. In his independence he has no need of anyone or anything else. If you look at other gods in this world, you will see a lack of independency. Man does not want his god to be independent, for if his god is independent man must be dependent. People of God, our independent God is a source of great comfort for us. Because he is independent, he gave to us the independent Christ who redeemed us from our sins. No dependent being could do this. This is evident from the picture worship of the Old Testament church. The blood of countless sacrifices was only a picture. Christ is the sacrifice for the church. No dependent God could be that sacrifice. Thanks be to God! Sing Psalter 203.

November 4 Read Jeremiah 23:23-32

God is everywhere and is everywhere present. What an awesome idea this is! Take a look outside at night. When you see the myriads of stars you get a little idea of God’s omnipresence. We know that all creation is under his hand. With so many stars, we see that omnipresence. Now look at a seashore. Do you see the many sands of the many seas? Is not God omnipresent? Is not God’s church scattered through the length and breadth of this earth? Does not God care for each of his saints? Do we not see his omnipresence? We often are afraid because God is omnipresent. We should be comforted. No matter where we go, or what we do, God is there. Let us be assured by God’s omnipresence. Sing Psalter 384.

November 5 Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9

God is one. We have been looking at various attributes of God. We may be tempted to surmise that God is made up of parts. The idea of the trinity sometimes leads men to believe that there are three Gods. Scripture is adamant on the truth that God is one. In his oneness there is no division. There is no “civil war.” There is complete unity within God. Our God who is a spirit is one. Because he is one our salvation is sure. The love that he gives to his people is an unfeigned love because he is one. As the “Essentials book” puts it, because God is one there are no other gods. This gives us complete trust in the one holy God. Sing Psalter 352.

November 6 Read Zephaniah 3:5-13

Our God is a just God. Now this idea can bring terror to the hearts of God’s people. Because he is just, we should all be doomed to everlasting punishment. But because of Christ’s sacrifice God’s justice was satisfied and we are found innocent before the judgment seat of God. Because God is a just God he not only punishes the evildoer, but he rewards the good with good. Now we know that no one is good apart from the grace of God. That is true. Nonetheless, God rewards the good. That is a comforting part of his justice. Oh, yes, this cannot be disconnected from his mercy. The two go hand in hand together. That is the comfort that we have. Our just God is merciful in his justice. Sing Psalter 253:1, 7, 9, 12.

November 7 Read Jeremiah 9:12-14; 23-24

Do we think we know all about God now? Have we exhausted all knowledge about God and his attributes? Nothing can be farther from the truth! We are mere creatures. We struggle to learn a little about God, and we forget what we have learned. We try to understand, and we end up more confused than when we started. Should we just throw up our hands and say, “What’s the use? Who can know God?” That’s what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to quit studying. He wants us to quit meditating upon God’s Word. He wants you, children and young people, to quit memorizing God’s Word. No, God will help us. Because he is love, because he is merciful, because he is wise; he will help us know him and know him as the true God. Continue to study and to know him as the God that he is. Sing Psalter 333.

The Song of Zion

“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”

August 16 Read Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 68:18 Several months ago we celebrated the Lord Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven. Have we thought about it since? Christ’s ascension was part of our way of salvation. Christ had to ascend into heaven. He could not remain on this earth. He ascended into heaven and sits at God’s right hand. He makes intercession for us daily. What a blessing this is for the child of God! He sits in heaven waiting for the day that He will come back to this earth and gather all the elect unto Himself. Are you waiting for that day, people of God? Think about the ascension and its benefits for you. Do that today as you enter into God’s house of worship. Sunday is an excellent day to ponder these things. But also ponder them all the days of your life. Sing Psalters 180:8 and 183:1.

August 17 Read Matthew 6:25-34

Psalm 68:19 In this part of David’s prayer he blesses God for the benefits which God has given him. The word bless means to speak well of. It is good for us to speak well of God for all things that we have come from him. Our reading today speaks especially of physical benefits, but David obviously means more than this. He speaks of salvation in the second part of the verse. David knew what physical salvation was as he was chased often by Saul and God saved him. But David also knew that there was more. That is why he wanted the ark and eventually the temple to be at the center of Jerusalem. We, too, must bless God because of the many gifts he gives to us. We must remember that he daily blesses us with many things; not the least of which is our salvation. Let us bless God in song and prayer daily. Sing Psalter 181:1.

August 18 Read Job 1:13-22

Psalm 68:20 David’s exultation unto the God of his salvation continues in today’s verse but with a different aspect. David understands that his salvation will not come to him on this earth. He realizes that he must go through the valley of the shadow of death and even unto death itself. But even this does not cause him to fear. He knows that God will make his salvation sure even through death. People of God, death is a reality. Those of you who have reached seventy or eighty understand this well. Those of us who seemingly have much of our lives before us must realize that unless Christ comes we must enter the grave. But there is no need to despair. Death and all its accompanying sorrows are in the hands of God. Because of Christ’s resurrection death and the grave have no sting for the child of God. Blessed be the God of our salvation even unto death! Sing Psalter 183:2.

August 19 Read Revelation 20

Psalm 68:21 The difference between the elect and reprobate can be obviously seen in this passage. David speaks of the blessedness that God’s people enjoy and then he speaks of the hopelessness of those whom God hates. This is for our instruction and our comfort. We are instructed to see that even though the wicked seem to profit in this life their end is destruction. We are also instructed not to continue in sin because its end is destruction. Even the child of God will feel the pain caused by sin. We must stay away from sin and cleave unto righteousness. Our comfort is that we have the beautiful hope of heaven. Christ has paid for our sins and we must eagerly look for the day of the wicked’s destruction and the exultation of the righteousness. Flee sin, young people, and look for the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sing Psalter 181:2.

August 20 Read Obadiah 17-21

Psalm 68:22-23 The depths of the suffering of God’s people can extend quite deep. Think of David fleeing from Saul. Think of the various times that Israel was attacked by enemies. Think about Paul as he suffered much at the hands of his tormentors. Think of the reformers and their sufferings. God’s people today also suffer. It may not be as physically graphic or distressing in our country. Though saints in some parts of the world suffer much. God’s people live a life of suffering. In this suffering God has prepared a way of escape. David knew that God meant it for good and for His glory. He had tasted of suffering and deliverance from that suffering. Thank God for such suffering because He has provided a way of escape and glory for Himself and His people. Sing Psalter 181:2.

August 21 Read Psalm Joshua 2:8-11

Psalm 68:24 The wicked know who God is. History bears this out. Today’s reading is a confession of faith from one who saw the power of God even when she remained in sin. Even today the world knows who the church is. They should because we should lead a different life. Our church parking lots should be full twice on Sunday while the world plays golf, camps, swims, and attends things which are for their enjoyment not that of God. God has a purpose in making sure that the world knows who He is and who his people are. That purpose is that they are left without excuse in the final judgment. Do not be ashamed, people of God, of proclaiming God’s name before men. Do not be ashamed to be different. Be counted among those who go by the name Christian. Let the world know that God is God and that He is your God. Sing Psalter 181:3.

August 22 Read Psalm Mark 11:1-10

Psalm 68:25 Music has been a part of the worship of God in both dispensations. Music expresses the joy that the child of God expresses as he blesses God. It was with music that Israel marched around Jericho. It was with music that the ark was moved up Mount Zion. The children sang as Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Does music attend our way as we praise God? Can the wicked tell by our music that we praise the sovereign God who created the heavens and the earth? Let us sing the songs of Zion as we worship Jehovah. As we go to God’s house tomorrow let us give special emphasis as we praise God with singing. In this way we can be ready to hear the preaching of the Word, and we will be ready to rightly worship Jehovah. Sing Psalter 181:3.

August 23 Read Psalm 68:15-27

Psalm 68:26-27 As we look around the church auditorium this morning we cannot help but seeing the evidence of God’s covenant faithfulness. We see in the families with which we have been blessed the evidence that God saves in the line of continued generations. Every family in the church is evidence that God is pleased to dwell in our midst. As we worship today let us bless God for His covenant faithfulness. The worship of Jehovah is one of the benefits of salvation. Let us be glad and rejoice today, the day which the Lord has made. Let us use this day which He has separated for this purpose of blessing God. Sing Psalter 181:4.

August 24 Read Psalm 68:28-35

Psalm 68:28 Many students and teachers will be going back to school in the next few weeks. For some of us God has given the blessing of parental covenant schools. These schools are a strength to those who have them. David prayed for God to strengthen that which He had given Israel by His presence. We, too, need this prayer as we begin our school year once more. Teachers need the strength of Jehovah as they carry out the work of teaching the covenant seed. Students need the strength of Jehovah in order to do all their work to God’s honor and glory. The work of both teacher and student is part of the council of God. Strengthen that work, O God, so that we may do it for Thy glory. Help us to work to show ourselves approved unto Thee and to Thee alone. Sing Psalter 182:1.

August 25 Read II Chronicles 32:21-23

Psalm 68:29 As David prayed this prayer, he had no idea of the victory God would give to Hezekiah many years later. He also did not know that foreign kings would bring presents to Jerusalem. We see here David prophesying of that which would happen. Because it was the will of God, it did happen. What was the reason that these heathen kings brought presents? They did it to glorify God. Was this an act of faith? By no means, but rather it was an expression of God’s sovereignty over all of His creation. As we study history in this school year, let us remember that our God is a sovereign God. All things are in His hands. And all things work for His glory and the good of His church. Even wicked rulers must bow before God. Comfort yourselves, people of God, with these words even when it looks the darkest for the church. God is in control. Sing Psalter 182:2.

August 26 Read Obadiah 10-16

Psalm 68:30 Those of you who have been following these devotionals will have noticed that I have had us read the whole chapter though not in order. By now you realize that the focus of this chapter is the condemnation of Edom for going against the people of God. They had done this many times in their history. But as we saw yesterday, God is sovereign. His sovereignty over the wicked should give to us much comfort. Not the comfort that delights in “getting even”. This comfort is the comfort that comes from obedience to God’s covenant. Esau was brought up in a covenant household. But because of his rebellion, he was cast out and eventually destroyed by God. Obey, young people. Obey God’s covenant and He will bless you with all the blessings of salvation. Sing Psalter 182:3.

August 27 Read Acts 8:26-39

Psalm 68:31 We live in the day and age where we see the fulfillment of this prophecy. Oh, it was begun shortly after Pentecost, but the full realization is happening now as the gospel is spread to the four corners of the earth. God has given to us a great heritage. We need to remember that we must spread that heritage to all lands. One of the signs of Christ’s return is the spread of the gospel. He will use us to do this. We must not ignore the opportunities that we have to spread the gospel. It may be down the street, across town, or in distant lands. We must seize the opportunity knowing that this is the will of God. Let us spread His name by what ever means He is pleased to give us. Sing Psalter 182:4.

August 28 Read Isaiah 35

Psalm 68:32 It is interesting that the call to all nations is to sing. We take for granted the gift of music. Or we disregard its usefulness in the cause of the kingdom. This verse, however, states that the kingdoms of the earth are to sing to God. The content of that singing never changes. That content is the praise of God. After we see these two commands, we see the word Selah once again. If a pause is indicated, we need to contemplate the importance of the preceding commands. What does God want? He wants us to praise Him in song as the almighty One that He is. Let us heed these commands and teach others to heed them as well. Sing Psalter 182:5.

August 29 Read Job 37:1-14

Psalm 68:33 In the time between the writing and reading of these words, I am sure that God’s voice has been heard on this earth. There has probably been a storm that has seized the attention of the world. Maybe there has been an earthquake. Maybe disease or famine has broken out. God speaks through these things. These are not natural disasters as the news media likes to call them. These are the voice of God. Are we listening, people of God? Are we seeking to know what God is saying to us? His voice is mighty. It has power. Its power is more than the destructive nature of a storm or earthquake. In those things He speaks to both the wicked and the church. Are we listening? Sing Psalter 183:3.

August 30 Read Revelation 12:7-12

Psalm 68:34 Does God’s power have meaning for us today? I mean this more than in a physical way. Do we acknowledge the strength of God in our daily spiritual life? A battle was fought in heaven, and Satan was thrown down from heaven. Today, God fights spiritual battles in our lives for us. This is a great comfort for us. If we had to rely on our own strength to fight against Satan, we would have no chance. We must realize that there is such a battle in our lives. The battle against sin is a daily one. God is powerful. By His power which He has and shows to the church, we will win the battle against sin, Satan and all evil. Confess the power of God and glory in it. Sing Psalter 182:5.

August 31 Read Psalm 68:28-35

Psalm 68:35 We come to the end of this month, this prayer of David, and this Psalm. Throughout the month we have learned of God’s power and how He has used it for His people. This closing verse is a confession that not only is God a God of power, but that He has also given power to us. How will we use that power in the upcoming school year? How will we use that power from week to week at work? How will we use that power as we interact with those around us? That power must be used for the service of the all-powerful King. Any power we have, only comes from Him. This is not an easy confession to make. We would rather have the power ourselves. We would rather proclaim ourselves as number one. With David we must speak well of God with the closing words of this Psalm, “Blessed be God.” Sing Psalters 182:6 and 183:4.

 

Devotional

Reprinted from September 1998.

Watching Daily At My Gates

The Song of Zion

“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”

September 1-9 Devotional by Mike Feenstra

September 1 Read Psalm 69:1-12; Psalm 69:1-2

“With the exception of Psalm 22, there is no other psalm that is quoted so often by the Holy Ghost than this one to describe the suffering of Jesus.” Such were the words of the late Rev. Gerrit Vos in O Taste and See (211). Considering that this Psalm was written by David in the Old Testament, we can surely see that the Scriptures are the Holy Spirit’s work to testify of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, as Rev. Vos states, “David suffered something like (Christ’s suffering), and I tremble when I write this last sentence down. The similarity is so insignificant. It may refer to the throne of Israel which he gave up to Absalom, fleeing the while. That entailed much for David: his house, his peace, his wives, his household stuff, his people. But when we look first at David when writing this pitiful tale in Psalm 69, and then at Jesus in Gethsemane or at the cross—words fail us. The first instance is but a shadow, the latter is reality” (215). Sing Psalter #184:1.

September 2 Read Matthew 27:39-49, Psalm 22; Psalm 69:1-3

Oh, the suffering of our Lord was an intense suffering; like unto (and even worse than) a weary man caught in deep waters that penetrate the soul so that his only hope is to cry for help between each overwhelming wave and each draining cough. This suffering by way of the insults and condemning words of the world was terrible and wounding to our Lord, but the thought that He was forsaken of God hurt the most and caused Him to cry out the words of Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” These words spoken by David in Psalm 22:1 also illustrate David’s wearisome crying in Psalm 69. There he beseeches God to deliver him from his deep affliction: “My constant calling wearies me, My throat is parched and dried; My eyes grow dim while for my God Still waiting I abide.” While on this earth below, this is also our state because we belong to Christ. In our suffering let us learn to call upon our sympathetic Savior Who sustained the highest suffering possible—the wrath of the Almighty God. Sing Psalter #184:1-2.

September 3 Read John 15:25, I Peter 2:23, Isaiah 53; Psalm 69:4

For today we cite an excerpt of “Absolute Abnegation” from O Taste and See by Rev. Vos on the powerful words of Psalm 69:4b:

“Then I restored that which I took not away!

Properly translated from the Hebrew it should read: that which I did not rob!

Jesus never robbed anyone of anything. It was rightfully His.

But as soon as He appeared among us the howling mob of creditors came upon Him. And they never left off demanding from Him. They finally demanded the very heart beat of Jesus. They asked and got His blood. His blessed body, His clothes, His natural modesty, nailing Him naked on the accursed tree, His life, the few square feet of terra firma: He hung suspended between heaven and earth.

And though He could have destroyed all His enemies, men, and devils, He gave and restored, He returned and surrendered all His possessions” (213). What did He restore that He did not take away? He restored righteousness and life to us, His elect, who are so undeserving (Heidel. Cat. Q&A 17). What a powerful verse! Sing Psalter #184:3. (If you would like O Taste and See: Meditations from the Psalms please write the Reformed Book Outlet, 3505 Kelly, Hudsonville, MI 49426.)

September 4 Read Psalm 139; Psalm 69:5-6a

Young People, are we making the same confession as David does in Psalm 69:5? Are we searching our souls to see whether there is any sin in them? Or are we deceiving ourselves into thinking that God can not hear our immoral fantasies or our murderous thoughts? While in deep affliction, David thinks the opposite. He proclaims before God that wherever he flees (See Psalm 139), God is there because God is the All-knowing God. He does not try to cover his sins as Adam tried in the garden of Eden, but he confesses them before God. In that confession, he beseeches God for deliverance from his present distress because he knows that he cannot cover his own sin. That covering can only come in David’s Anti-type, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, our sins are hid forevermore from God’s eyes so that we may be reconciled to Him. Sing Psalter #184:4.

September 5 Read Psalm 69:6

David’s petition in the verse for today is that God would save His people from shame. While King David bore reproach at the hands of his enemies (See Verse 7), the temptation to despair and feel ashamed surely came to David’s subjects. “Why do you confess God’s Name when you can see that it will be unrewarded? Look at your King, he is defeated!” must have been the devil’s temptation to the children of Israel. Knowing well that this temptation was before God’s people, David prayed that he might be delivered from his enemies and vindicated before the world so that God’s people would not be ashamed for their confession. Therefore, we must see that David was concerned not about himself, but with those that wait on the Lord God of Hosts. His prayer was for the elect alone. His prayer was that God glorify Himself through the vindication of the elect in Israel by saving him. For, “If the king of believers shall find his faith unrewarded, how will the feeble ones hold on their way” (Spurgeon). Praise God that our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, has His reward! Because He has been exalted at God’s right hand forevermore, we shall never be ashamed! Sing Psalter #184:5.

September 6 Read Romans 15:3; Psalm 69:7-8

Today is the Sabbath day, the day when we go up to God’s house chiefly to worship Him. But, we also go to God’s house because we desire to, “bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves.” We are commanded to do this, “for even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproachest thee fell on me” (See Psalm 69:7, 9). What an incentive to live a life that promotes the other members of the congregation! Jesus came into this world as God’s Christ in order to give His life for us! His zeal for the holiness of God’s house and God’s glory caused Him to be rejected of all His fellow men. This rejection culminated in his shameful sacrifice on the cross. There He despised the shame (Heb. 12:2) and rose victorious. Out of thanksgiving to God, let us follow after Christ by giving God all the glory even though we may be persecuted. Sing Psalter #184:6.

September 7 Read John 2; Psalm 69:9

“For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” These were the passionate words of David. The passion that burned in David’s heart was remembered by our Lord’s disciples when they saw our Lord cleansing the temple in John 2. What was that zeal? David’s and especially Jesus’ zeal was exactly for the glory of God and the holiness of God’s house. Calvin says that Christ, “burned with such zeal, that this single feeling swallowed up every other.” This zeal would not allow any pollution in the house of God for God’s House is to be holy, that is, separated from sin. In the New Testament reality, this means that God’s Church, which the OT temple typified, must also be characterized by holiness. Therefore, we must also have this zeal to keep God’s house holy by insisting that our churches proclaim that great Reformation theme: Soli Deo Gloria. This zeal only flows from God, the God Who will glorify His Name in His church. “For though God is sufficient for Himself, and needs not the services of any, yet He wishes that His glory should be displayed in the Church. In this way He gives a remarkable proof of His love towards us, because He unites His glory—as it were, by an indissoluble link—with our salvation” (Calvin). Sing Psalter #184:7.

September 8 Read Heb. 4:14-18; 5:7-10; Ps. 69:10-11

Earlier in our treatment of Psalm 69 we said that Jesus is our Sympathetic Savior. Young People, do you know what that means? Have you experienced what that means? It means that Christ can sympathize with our troubles because he has experienced and endured every sorrow, every pain, and every temptation that we may face in this life. He knows what it means to lose a loved one. He knows what it means to suffer at the hands of wicked men when He bowed His soul with fasting. He has endured every temptation that we have in our lives. And those temptations to Christ were severe and very serious. Just think of the temptations which our Lord endured at the hands of the devil in Luke 4:1-13. If this is so, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Sing Psalter #184:8.

September 9 Read Psalm 69:12

If we would describe an upright young man in this world according to the Scriptures, how would we describe him? Would he be one that gets drunk at a wild beer party on the weekend? In his car on a Friday night, would he be listening to ungodly rock music on the radio while he cruises the circuit? Or, would he be a young man whom everybody mocks at the local hangout because he reproves the sin of his fellow men (See Eph. 5:11)? How about a godly young woman? Would she be a woman that seeks to entice men by what she wears? Would you find her at a friend’s house watching the latest movie on video? Or, would she be a young woman who is outcast because she desires to walk modestly and humbly with her God (See Micah 6:8)? Young People, what description do we fit? David was made the song of the drunkards (Psalm 69:12). The same was ultimately true of Christ. If we are called to imitate Christ, will not our walk in this world yield the same results? It surely will. The truth of the antithesis demands this. If this is true, let us therefore walk not to seek the approval of the wicked of this world (See Luke 6:26, Eph. 5:11), but let us seek the approval of God. And if the world makes us their proverb, let us realize they do so because we belong to Christ (See John 15:18-25; Psalm 69:4, 12). Sing Psalter #184:9.

September 10-30 devotionals by John Huizenga

September 10 Read I Peter 2:18-23; Psalm 69:13

Today we find a sharp contrast between the believer and the unbeliever, another dimension of the antithesis, a dimension that often breaks down in the weakness of our sinful flesh under the great pressure of wicked men. What do you do when men revile you? What do you do when you suffer wrongfully at the hands of men? The unbeliever will not be able to cool the burning coal of hurt and injustice and will seek revenge sooner or later. He will speak out, protest, revile back, and have no rest until the wrong is corrected according to his own satisfaction. But the child of God is different. While the wicked reviled David, he turned to God in prayer. He prays not on the basis that he deserves to be heard, but on the basis of God’s mercy and saving grace. Our Savior Jesus Christ also is an example for us in such times. We read that He also committed Himself to Him that judges righteously. May we also learn to bear injustice with quiet patience and turn to God in prayer. Sing Psalter 185 verse 1.

September 11 Read Mark 14:26-26; Psalm 69:14-15

Despair and depression can be described as sinking down into mud that is very sticky and dark and bottomless. The harder one struggles, the deeper he sinks and the more hopeless he becomes. The grave itself slowly smothers all life. Such despair is death. Christ our Lord experienced this sorrow in the garden while he prayed. He said His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. That was the weight of our sins pressing Him down as He stood before the righteous and holy God. No matter what the immediate cause of our despair is, all despair ultimately is the result of sin and there is only one way to get out of the mire. No man can pull us out with his own strength, only God is able to deliver. He is the only source of hope and life. He breaks the bondage of sin by the work of Christ crucified. He pulls us out by the power of His grace. Sing Psalter 185 vs. 2

September 12 Read Titus 3:1-7; Psalm 69:16

Why does God look upon the sinner with love and favor? So many who call themselves Christians say He smiles upon those that do good things and frowns upon those who do bad things. Such is a very simplistic, human, and therefore false idea of God. David did not ask God to deliver him because he had done this and that good work. He asked God in prayer to deliver him because of something in God: His mercy. Mercy is the will of God for the weak and helpless sinner to be perfectly blessed in Him; and what God wills, He accomplishes in sovereign power. The believer knows that God wills to save and is powerful to save because God reveals it in His word and therefore the believer comes to God on the basis of His mercy, that’s all! Further revelation of God makes known to the believer that this mercy and power to save is accomplished in the believer through Christ. This truth is clearly taught in Titus 3 as well as all of Scripture. Sing Psalter 185:3

September 13 Read Matthew 29:39-46; Psalm 104:29, 30; Psalm 69:17, 18

The face of God is a matter of life or death for the creature. The showing of God’s face to the creature is the revelation of His favor and grace. The hiding of God’s face is the revelation of His wrath. Apart from the favor and grace of God all is hopelessness and death. The believer, knowing the greatness of His sin and misery, is immediately plunged into darkness when he loses sight of the face of God. The face of God communicates His love for us and forgiveness in Christ. The face of God is the word of God. May God never remove His word from us. It is not enough just to have the Bible in your house. Neither is it enough to read the Bible every day. God must show unto us His face in the reading of His word. We see His face only by faith. Let us also pray that He hide not His face. Sing Psalter 185:4.

September 14 Read Isaiah 53; Hebrews 12:1-2; Psalm 69:19

Reproach is when one puts you to shame. Those reproaching appear to have the upper hand while the one reproached wallows at their feet in shame. David comes before God knowing that He sees the condition in which he is in. Not only does God see His people being reproached, He knows reproach Himself. Christ was despised of men and suffered the reproach of the cross. While He hung on the cross, His enemies surrounded him appearing to have the upper hand as they mocked One Who could save the life of another but would not save His own life. But the enemies of God are absolutely wrong. Christ would not be destroyed in shame; He despised shame and now sits on the right hand of God. The way of the cross was the way for the destruction of the power of sin and death. When wallowing in the reproach of men we come to God where we see and know life eternal. Then the reproach of men means nothing and becomes the way to our salvation. Sing Psalter 185 verse 5.

September 15 Read Mark 14:35-50; Psalm 69:20

In this life filled with sorrow and tears, we learn the beautiful truth found in these verses: God will never forsake His people. In our day to day life and interactions with people we may come to learn that even the best of friends can forsake us. It may even be that God sends you through a time when everyone forsakes you and you are completely alone and despised. This is when God opens our eyes to the truth that He will never forsake us. Then this truth will fill us with awe and reverence for God unknown to those who have never been forsaken by men. In the way of despair before men we are brought into closer covenant fellowship with God. We will never be forsaken because Christ was forsaken for us. He took upon Himself the curse due unto us as he languished, forsaken by God upon the cross. Sing Psalter 185 verse 6.

September 16 Read Matthew 27:33-50, Psalm 69:21

These words from Psalm 69 are prophetic of the suffering and events surrounding Christ’s death on the cross. The wicked fill up the cup of God’s wrath when they trample upon that virtue of God so fundamental to His being: His mercy. Sin is essentially a turning opposite to the way of God and opposing Him. The wicked tormenters of Christ mocked mercy itself as they pretended to be merciful only to torment Christ further. May we see the great wickedness of man for what it is that we may be humbled before our holy God. Every sin of ours is worthy of the wrath of God. Every sin of ours was put upon the shoulders of Christ as he bore the suffering there on the cross for us. Sing Psalter 185 verse 7.

September 17 Read Romans 11:1-13; Psalm 69:22-25

Our God is sovereign in election and reprobation. This truth is denied by most today. While many claim to believe God chooses the elect, they deny the logical conclusion that therefore He also reprobates the others. We need not conclude the doctrine of reprobation by logic alone, for God plainly teaches this in these passages. We also are made to understand by this word of God that reprobation serves election, for it was in the way of the reprobation of ungodly Israel that the gospel went out to the Gentiles. As we saw yesterday, verse 21 is prophetic of Christ dying on the cross. The words of verses 22-25 are also the words of Christ. As He hung there to pay the price for the sins of His people, He also condemned all others to hell. These are the words of our God, if you deny these words, then you deny the God Who also saves by sovereign election. Sing Psalter 185:8.

September 18 Read Isaiah 53; Psalm 69: 26-28

We read Isaiah 53 again because we read here the truth that God is the one that sends affliction. David hesitates not to confess that it is God that has afflicted and smitten him. While man by nature stands up in shock and ridicule when he hears that God, Who is supposed to care for and protect His people beats upon them with afflictions, David finds no contradiction or offence. The child of God knows the holiness of God and therefore the wickedness of his sin. He would gladly suffer a life of beatings from God when he comes to realize the terribleness of his sin. The God of the Scriptures is a just God. Sin must be punished. To this end God Himself in Christ laid down His life for His people. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Sing Psalter 185 verse 9.

September 19 Read II Corinthians 8:1-9; Psalm 69:29

Are you poor and sorrowful? God does not address the problem of earthly poverty of goods here, but rather the problem of spiritual poverty of knowing God. In comparison to life in heaven with God, our whole earthly life is one of spiritual poverty. In His loving kindness God gives to us faithful preaching and the Holy Spirit to lift us up and give us a taste of those heavenly riches, but we all the more long for life in heaven. Let us bring these needs before the Lord in prayer. He knows our poverty for He also became poor for us. God came down from heavenly glory, put aside the riches of that glory and took upon himself the flesh of man that we might be brought to God in Him. In our deliverance from poverty we come to know the mercy and love of God. Sing Psalter 186:1 & 187:1, 2

September 20 Read Eph. 13:1-15; Psalm 69:30, 31

The Lord loves nothing more than the song of praise that wells up in the thankful heart of a forgiven sinner. A song of praise from the heart of His children is the goal and purpose of all the work of God since the beginning of creation. It is the fruit of His work. A song of praise is so simple, yet so profound. A little child and an old man can sing the same song over and over again, and yet bring new praise to God each time. A song of praise is the melting and fusing together of all your sorrows and experiences from the day of your birth and transformed by the power of God’s word into a song of praise. This is a wonder that we will more fully comprehend when we are taken into heaven for an eternity of praise. Let us sing Psalter 186:2 in the knowledge of our wondrous salvation.

September 21 Read Zech. 9:11, 12; Ephesians 3:1-7; Psalm 69:29-31

From the moment Adam fell into sin, every man, woman and child is a prisoner of Satan. By nature we serve Satan and can do nothing but sin. Many of these prisoners belong to Satan, but not all. Some belong to God; they are God’s prisoners. Unlike those who are not God’s prisoners, those who belong to God are prisoners of hope. God opens our eyes, He makes us alive, He shows us the Door and by the power of His grace He brings us out of prison. So powerful and complete is this deliverance, that we can never return to that prison. But because the prison of Satan is so big, essentially covering the whole earth, and the child of God is separated from it, it is as though we now enter the prison of God that prevents us forever from ever living freely in the world of sin. Paul gives expression to this wonderful truth when he confesses that he is a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Does this truth make you glad? Sing Psalter 186:3 & 187:3.

September 22 Read Isaiah 44:21-23; 49:13; 55:8-12; Psalm 69:32, 33

When we meditate upon the garden of Eden and the wonderful life of Adam and Eve with God, it is easy for us to give praise to God, but when we see the corruption of this world it is not so easy to see the wonder in the unfolding of God’s plan for a new heavens and new earth. The salvation of God’s people is far more wonderful even than the garden of Eden. The accomplishment of God’s purpose is reason for all creation to rejoice because then every part of creation will have served the purpose for which it was created. All things work together for the salvation of God’s people. Everything that moves from the stars to the jellyfish to the vibrating atom is called to sing praise unto God. He has created each one, He upholds the existence and life of each one, and He directs each one to serve His purpose in salvation. In all His works, God reveals His wisdom and glory. Let us join the creation and sing Psalter 186:4 & 187:4.

September 23 Read Acts 2:29-40; Psalm 69:36

The institution of the family is an integral part of God’s plan of salvation. God does not randomly choose individuals from the earth as though it were just one big group of people and then bring them into the church to be instructed in the knowledge of God. He does pluck individuals out of non-Christian backgrounds at times, but then He begins to work with them as a graft that can grow and become a family. He is pleased to use the family to provide a godly atmosphere and instruction for elect children who become firmly rooted in the truth from an early age. He is also pleased to give the joy to parents of seeing covenant children grow up in the fear the Lord. This does not mean there are not branches that are reprobate and eventually pruned off. This brings extreme sorrow, but the joy of our salvation and the faithfulness of God to save His people will overcome all sorrow. Sing Psalter 186:5 with the hope of the Psalmist.

September 24 Read II Samuel 17:1-24; Psalm 70:1

The history recorded in II Samuel 17:1-24 is an answer to David’s prayer recorded in Psalm 70:1. That David’s prayer was answered does not mean that he was free from all his troubles. Absalom continued to pursue him and it may have appeared to David that God did not answer his prayer. Through it all, God did preserve David and eventually established His throne as a picture of the coming reign of Christ. Christ also prayed to God in the times of His great distress, and God confounded Satan by giving Christ the victory over death. Here too the way was not easy. When we pray for deliverance, we must not expect an answer that makes our life easy. God will always hear our prayer: He will never let His elect slip into the hands of Satan. He will make every attempt of wicked men to harm or lead us astray turn to their destruction and our salvation. Let us sing this prayer with Psalter 189:1 & 190:1.

September 25 Read Isaiah 41:1-14; John 18:1-6; Psalm 70:2, 3

The pride which lifts a man against God will always be met with shame and confusion because pride against God is absolute foolishness. This pride is manifest every time we sin. Sin is the willful stepping off the path to which God has directed our steps. Though we all sin and fall in shame and confusion, there is a difference between the reprobate and the elect. The reprobate can be smashed down in shame and confusion, but they get up again and persist in sin to an even greater shame and ultimate destruction. The elect are pricked in their heart and repent. In Christ they are washed clean and made precious in God’s sight. They are taken within the covenant fellowship of God so that God brings shame and confusion to those who rise up against His people. The church is gathered for the glory of God, and anyone who would rise up against this work of God will be destroyed. Sing Psalter 188:2 & 189:2

September 26 Read John 16:20-28; Psalm 70:4

In the midst of great distress, David does not only pray for the destruction of his enemies, but he also prays for all believers asking that they may rejoice and be glad. Here again, among other things, we see the great theme that runs through all Scripture, of joy and salvation in the way of sin and misery. We may not always see why it must be this way, but this is the will of God. In this way, and in no other way, is the love of God manifest fully to His people. In heaven we will understand this truth which we now see but dimly. Christ directs our attention to the picture of this great theme in the birth of a child. The joy of receiving a new child can only come in the way of pain and travail. Our minds forget the pain and suffering of childbirth, but the experience is intertwined forever in the love and joy that we have in the child. May we never forget that our puny created minds will never fathom the depths of the wisdom of the eternal God. Sing Psalter 188:3 & 189:3

September 27 Read Hebrews 10:1-37; Psalm 70:5

We know God does not delay His return to deliver His people, and yet we pray “make haste.” We also pray for the forgiveness of sins knowing that Christ has already blotted them out. We pray knowing that God knows everything we need. Would we not be better off keeping quiet and trusting that God will come, that our sins are forgiven, and our needs will be met? Some would have us believe that prayer will cause God to do certain things. We must hold steadfast to the truth that God is in complete sovereign control and unchangeable, yet we must also pray without ceasing because God is a covenant God and we are covenant people. The covenant is a bond of friendship, and there is no friendship without fellowship. In the friendship between the sovereign God of heaven and earth and frail, created, sinful man, such a fellowship in prayer is necessary and pleasing to God. God wills to come quickly, God wills to forgive our sins, God wills to supply our every need, and we confess that our will is knit with His when we ask for these very things. Sing Psalter 188:4 & 189:4

September 28 Read I Peter 2:1-10; Psalm 71:1, 2

We have seen in the Psalms a number of times now where the Psalmist prays for confidence and steadfastness on the basis of his faith and trust in God. Knowing our God to be unchangeable and faithful, like a solid rock that can never be moved, we also pray that God sets us firmly upon that rock. What exactly is that rock? The Old Testament saints had only the promise of salvation as their rock. They prayed for faith to believe that promise. The Rock is Christ. We are delivered from sin on the basis of His death and resurrection. He is the only way to renewed fellowship with God. We are saved in His righteousness which is imputed unto us. He is our only hope. All other ways will only lead to confusion and death. In him we will never be confounded. Sing Psalter 190:1.

September 29 Read Revelation 7; Psalm 71:3

Today we focus our attention upon the words “thou hast given commandment to save me.” These words are very personal and reassuring. The God who commanded the world to come into existence also commands our salvation. Nothing can hinder this commandment. It is a command that has been given from all eternity. The passage from Revelation teaches us that God sends His angels into the world to gather His people in time. The elect are sealed with a seal that distinguishes them from all other and guarantees their entrance into heaven. In this connection God gives to us the reassuring picture of Himself as a strong rock. Not only does He command our salvation, He also gives to us His word to comfort and shield us all our life until we are gathered into heaven. Let us put our trust in God our Rock. Sing Psalter 190:2

September 30 Read Romans 15:1-13; Psalm 71:4, 5

Hope is expectancy or expectation. It is a thing that one longs for with expectation. Hope is not a wish. You might wish that you would find a new car in the garage in place of your old one, but there is no expectancy and therefore no hope. Hope is based on something known for certain. David expected God to deliver him from his enemies because God had done it before and He knew God is a God Who saves. Today we might hope for rain on the basis of a weather prediction for rain, and the fact that it has rained in the past, but we can’t be certain because God also sends drought. Hope in God has an absolutely certain basis. God is unchangeable. He reveals Himself as “the God of hope.” We are filled up with the hope of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in His hope we have peace and joy. May you be filled with the hope of God. Sing Psalter 190:3

Devotional by Cornelius Jonker

Watching Daily At My Gates

October 1

“Whereas ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6, 7). We have a paradox here, that is, a statement that appears contradictory, yet is true in this case. Sometimes our lives are relatively easy. But this can soon change when calamities come, when a loved one dies or persecution is thrust upon us. God knows our way and our desires, and when He sends us trials, it must serve to strengthen and purify our faith. Then, at the funeral of a loved one we can sing amidst our tears, “Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” By grace we can rejoice through our heaviness, for we possess that which gold cannot buy, the promise of an eternal inheritance purchased by Christ our Savior. Psalter 398.

October 2

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). This text contains a great contrast. It proclaims mercy and forgiveness to those who are sorry for their sins, who seek pardon at the foot of the cross, and who no longer embrace those sins. It also warns those who attempt to cover their sins with a so-called confession, but are determined nevertheless to continue living in them. One common example is the marriage of divorced persons, who claim that they confessed their sin of divorce and the breaking of the marriage vows. However, they continue to live in this sin of adultery, thereby refusing to forsake that sin. And anyone who either openly or covertly continues to hold to or cherish certain sins, will not find mercy, but stands condemned before the face of God. Oh let us pray the prayer of Jeremiah: “turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.” Jeremiah 31:18(b) Psalter 110.

October 3

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).This is a text that affords much comfort to the believer. Dear reader, whether you are young or old, take  these words to heart with introspection, which means to examine one’s own inward thoughts. What do you find there? Do you see the fruits of God’s work in you? Are you sorry for your sins and have a desire to walk antithetically over against the world and its wickedness? To be sure, our sins beset us daily and we often see only a small beginning of that new obedience. But God never begins a work that He does not also finish, and therefore we have full confidence that we will persevere to the end. Let us go forward then, not in our own strength, but in the assurance that God will lead us all the way to our eternal home, because this work of grace is based on the finished work of our Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us. Psalter 185.

October 4

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word” (Psalm 119:9). A searching and important question is asked and a beautiful and significant answer is given. Who is asking this question? Obviously it is a young man. However, cleansing of the way is not for the young man only, but also for the young woman. This cleansing is also necessary for all of us even up to the time we draw our last breath. This is a unique and beautiful question, young people. A youth’s way is his path of life as he travels his earthly journey. There are many sidetracks that beckon the young traveler to turn aside and enjoy the pleasures of the wicked world. These so called pleasures are tainted by the smut and filth of ungodliness. The answer to the question is one of grace. That answer is to take heed to the Word. That Word is the precepts and testimonies of Scripture. That Word is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel causes us to flee to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. There is delight in that way for young and old, for it is the way of the cross that leads to a glorious home. Psalter 322.

October 5

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). Ever since the dawn of history, the church could echo the above words, and it will repeat them until Christ comes at the end of time. Countless examples could be mentioned how Satan and the world harassed the church and were determined to blot out their very existence. From bondage in Egypt, rebellion in the wilderness, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which gave rise to the lament of Jeremiah, the church has been frequently cast in the furnace of affliction, yet never destroyed. Can we ascribe to this remnant some inherent strength in itself that can withstand all the onslaughts of the powers of darkness? Not at all, for we read that it is only because of God’s mercies that we are not consumed. His compassion or pity is a sovereign and eternal compassion that cannot possibly fail. What a comfort for the church of all ages to know and experience that great truth. Because Christ, on the cross, redeemed that church and because He now reigns victoriously, not one of that church shall ever be lost. Thank the Lord that you are privileged to be a member of that church and humbly praise Him for His mercies. Psalter 378.

October 6

“I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). What a beautiful expression of serene tranquility and quiet confidence that we do well to repeat each night as we lay our heads on our pillows. Our lives usually are so busy that our heads are filled with all sorts of worries about the present and the future. The farmer may worry about the weather, the rich about the security of his wealth, the poor about his empty cupboard, and the student about tomorrow’s lessons. We do not mean to infer that we should not be concerned about the things in our lives that affect us very deeply, but “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. The ungodly may rightly toss and turn during the night, for we read, “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked”. But the child of God goes to sleep with a prayer on his lips for the peace that only God can give. Then all anxious questionings cease, and we can rest in the arms of the Almighty, faithful covenant God who never slumbers nor sleeps and who will keep us in safety. Psalter 7.

October 7

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3:12). What a warm and comforting assurance this is for the righteous who must walk daily in a world that is hostile to God and filled with evil and wickedness. Who are the righteous? Those are you and I, and all who are clothed in the garments of Christ’s righteousness, who have been redeemed by the wonderful power of His sovereign grace. Sadly, however, we often stumble and fall into sin each day anew. But thanks be to God, He does not leave us in our sins, but convicts us by the Holy Spirit, so that we cry out “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” God’s face is against them that do evil. Those are the unregenerate wicked who delight in evil. Against those, the Lord sets His face in consuming judgment. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Who is a consuming fire. But He is ever merciful to His children whom He sees with loving eyes and whose prayers He hears with attentive ears. Psalter 74.

October 8

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart. O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). What is a sacrifice? Do we still bring them to God? The Old Testament church knew much about sacrifices, for in this way they worshipped God. Their sacrifices were commanded by God Himself and required an offering of something precious, such as a lamb with no imperfections. These of course pointed to the perfect sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, namely Christ. Do we still bring sacrifices to God? Most surely we are required to do so, not with a bloody offering, but that of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. A broken spirit is that which is emptied of all pride and haughtiness of sin. A contrite heart is a heart that is filled with genuine remorse and penitence because of our corruption and guilt. By nature we are proud and have to have the preeminence. Do we flaunt our appearance, our possessions or our intellect? God despises proud looks and all boasting of self. All we are and all we have are from God alone, who desires truth in the inward parts. Let our prayer be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24). Psalter 384.

October 9

“He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel; the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them” (Numbers 23:21). Such beautiful words uttered by such a despicable hypocrite! Balaam, the false prophet, was hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel. Oh, certainly, the nation of Israel as a whole, was worthy of curses. Didn’t they murmer against God despite His repeated signs and wonders? They trampled His commandments under foot and rebelled numerous times. Balaam perceives how imperfect this people were, and since he covets the earthly reward from King Balak, he agrees to this wicked maneuver. But God has other plans, and because God is sovereign, even over the wicked, He turns the intended curses to blessings. What a comfort for you and I, dear reader. Despite our sins and rebellion, God beholds us, and all His elect children, as righteous in Christ. The King has engraved His people in the palms of His hands and loves them with an eternal love. Shall we not then give thanks to that King and strive to walk in thankfulness and obedience all our days? Psalter 239.

October 10

“And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). What are you looking for, dear reader, and how does this affect your life? This text refers of course to Christ Who appeared once on the earthly scene, but then disappeared. The first time He came with sin. Indeed not with His own sin, for He had none. But He took on Himself the sins of His dear elect children and laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice to redeem them. The second appearance of the Redeemer will be glorious for those who look for Him in faith and blessed expectation. Oh, He will appear to the wicked also, for every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow before Him. These wicked do not want to see Him for He comes with a dreadful judgment. But those who look for Him shall not be disappointed. In the meantime, do not look for earthly riches, for prestige in the eyes of the world, or anything else that would disturb your focus on His appearance. Look by faith at all the signs of His coming that take place in the world around us and listen to our Savior Himself who said “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). Psalter 276.

October 11

“I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32). This is quite a commitment that the psalmist makes in this verse and it is the same for us as we take it on our own lips. Notice that we will not only stand or walk in the way of God’s commandments, but we will run. Running takes much effort and exertion in order to reach a certain goal. That is how we must seek to serve and love God, zealously living for His sake, keeping His commandments and loving Him with all our hearts. The psalmist realizes that this can only be possible when God enlarges his heart. To enlarge one’s heart, which is the center of our spiritual life, means to make it more spacious and more receptive to the things of God’s kingdom. By nature our hearts, even though regenerated, are small, and do not seek the commandments of God. But God enlarges our hearts and makes us willing to live for Him. Pray daily for this work of grace so that our lives may manifest to everyone we meet that our one desire is to run in the way of God’s commandments. Psalter 38.

October 12

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him” (Ephesians 1:3, 4). What a doxology of praise to our God this is, as we take these words upon our lips. To bless, means “to speak well”. God, from all eternity loved us and spoke well of us in His eternal counsel of election. He blessed us in Christ, and because of that divine work we in turn bless God. We speak well of Him because we taste that He is good, merciful and sovereign in all His words and works. We may have doubts sometimes and wonder if this blessedness can actually be ours. Our sins overwhelm us, and we realize with sorrow, our hopeless condition. But God does not leave us in our sins. He causes us to sorrow because of them, and works repentance and conversion in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. He is always the Giver; we are always the receivers. Because He has blessed us in Christ, who redeemed us by His blood, we are already in principle citizens of those heavenly places where Christ reigns as eternal King. Blessed be our great God! Psalter 280.

October 13

“From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:66, 67). Jesus had just performed a great miracle, the likes of which the people never before had beheld. Five loaves of bread and two fish were multiplied in sufficient quantity to feed five thousand people. Prior to this, the multitude witnessed great miracles of healing. Is it any wonder that they wanted to crown Him their king? With this king to lead them their stomachs would be full and sickness banished. Jesus then preached a powerful sermon, the subject of which was, “My kingdom is not of this world”. What a disappointment for those whose hope was centered in an earthly kingdom. As a result they walked no more with Him, but forsook Him. Jesus turns to His twelve disciples and asked, “Will ye also go away?” This question comes to us today also, dear reader. Will you hold fast to the truth of the gospel of sovereign, particular grace and unconditional covenant views, Biblical concept of marriage and prohibition of remarriage of divorced persons? Many do like to pay the price of the truth and so they leave and find teachers that will tell them what they like to hear. People of God, let your answer by grace be that of Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Psalter 94.

October 14

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). The context in which this verse appears describes us in our natural state, namely that we walked in disobedience, fulfilling the desires of the flesh. But God who is rich in grace, quickened us according to His mercy, and showed us the riches of His kindness in Christ. Then we are told that by grace alone we are saved. That grace is never earned by our works and is never bestowed upon us because of our goodness, for then salvation would be by man and not by grace. Rather it is a free gift by pure and sovereign grace through faith. Oh, there are those who claim that salvation is all of grace and that it is made available to all those who fulfill the condition of faith and accept this grace. If that were true, then it is not of grace, but of man who determines his fate. And man is fickle and given to change and foolishness. Thanks be to God, salvation is a free gift, bestowed on the elect through Christ, the objects of which are kept by the power of faith, so that they persevere unto the end. All praise and thanks be to God alone! Psalter 187.

October 15

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I will keep it unto the end. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments: for therein do I delight” (Psalm 119:33, 35). We all know what paths are, don’t we? The most common definition would be a laid out track or route upon which we walk. It can also refer to a way of life or conduct. Our text today is a prayer for divine instruction as we travel our pathway of life. Young people, you are beginning a journey, a journey that will take you through life. You have never traveled it before. What is your road map? Who is your guide? We are so often inclined to follow our sinful desires and stray into paths of sin. But that way ends in death. Listen to these directions: “Teach me the way of thy statutes, Lord. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments.” That is a wonderful and blessed way. By God’s grace we pray this prayer, and in this pathway we take delight. God will keep us on that path until we reach our glorious destination. All praise and thanks to Him! Psalter 321.

 

The Song of Zion

“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”

July 16 Read Psalm 65

Psalm 65:11-13 We come to the end of this Psalm of praise to our God. We have seen many truths found in it. None is so precious to us than the truth of our salvation. We find this in these last verses as the harvest is discussed. The harvest comes at the end of time and God by his servants will gather the elect and bring them to glory. This truth should and must cause us to be joyful. It should help us be joyful when the way in which God leads us is hard and rocky. It should cause us to be joyful when the wicked seek to do us harm. We need to express the joy of our salvation to those who are around us. Our neighbors must know by our lives that we are indeed the blessed happy ones who have been chosen by God and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. People of God are you shouting for joy; are you singing God’s praises? Sing Psalters 167: 3-4, 169:2-3, and 171:3.

July 17 Read Psalm 66

Psalm 66:1-2 Once again we have a song of praise before us. Once more we are called to make a joyful noise to our mighty God. The content of our songs are directed as well in these verses. We must only sing songs which proclaim the honor of God’s name. As we examine songs we hear in the church world today we see many kinds. We see those that proclaim a gospel other than that found in the Word of God. We find those that extol man and his glory. We find others which trivialize God and his attributes. These kinds of songs we may not use to worship God either in church or in our daily life. Our songs must only be those which extol the honor of God’s name and his works. Our praise of him must be glorious because he is the God of all glory. Songs about God are numerous. The number of songs which glorify God is less. Let us be discerning as we sing songs of praise and glory to the honor of God’s name. Sing Psalter 173:1.

July 18 Read Daniel 4:28-37

Psalm 66:3 This verse continues to show to us what the content of the praise of our God should be. It shows us that our God is so majestic that even the heathen must confess that he is God alone. In our Scripture reading today we see Nebuchadnezzar being forced to confess that Jehovah is God. He did not want to do it. It was not of himself that he said the words of Daniel 4. But even this great king saw that God alone was God of heaven and earth. What about us? Are our confessions forced? I hope not! I hope that by grace we can look at the wonders of God and be able to confess his greatness. Let us pray for that grace. Sing Psalter 173:2.

July 19 Read Isaiah 24:1-14

Psalm 66:4 The fact found in this verse of Psalm 66 and in the passage from Isaiah is that the world will worship and sing unto God. How is this possible? It is only possible as the gospel is spread throughout the world. God commanded the church in Acts 1 to preach to the uttermost parts of the earth. We are part of God’s church. This is our calling. Are we listening for calls for help? Are we looking to find the neighbor who needs the truths that God has given to us? It is easy for us to say all the world must praise God. Is it easy for us to know that God may and will use us to bring the gospel of his name to them? Let us make this part of our prayers today. Let us want to have God’s name spread to the four corners of the earth, and especially let us want those distinctive truths with which he has so graciously entrusted us, to be spread to all lands. Sing Psalter 173:3.

July 20 Read Revelation 7:9-17

Psalm 66:5 The Psalms are replete with commands for the child of God. Here is another one. We are commanded to come and see the works of the Lord. Yesterday we were called to the house of God. Did you go? Were you blessed with the goodness of the Lord in his house? We are also commanded to look around this world and see what God is doing. John was given a glimpse of the future while on the island of Patmos. We are given to see that activity and terrible works of God as we look for the day of Christ’s return. Even as I write this two months in advance, I am sure that something will happen in the world which should cause us to stop and notice the work of God upon man. Are you watching, people of God? Are you listening to what God is telling you through his works? Sing Psalter 173:4.

July 21 Read Exodus 14:21-31

Psalm 66:6 One of the reasons for the manner of the deliverance of the children of Israel from the Egyptians was for instruction. God’s people then were to learn from his marvelous ways so that they could rejoice in him. We, too, must learn from Israel’s journey through the Red Sea. We must know the history involved, and this means we must study. We must also seek to see God’s purpose in such a deliverance. Egypt did not learn through ten plagues upon its land. They still did not see God as God. There was no grace for them to do this. In Israel there were those who were hard-hearted and were not ready to confess that God was the I AM. Even in the church of today there are those who need this kind of instruction so that they can learn to rejoice in the God of our salvation. Are we studying? Are we learning? Are we rejoicing? Sing Psalter 173:5.

July 22 Read Acts 4:23-31

Psalm 66:7 God’s people have faced troublous times ever since sin entered this world. Abel had to undergo the torments of Cain and was eventually killed by Cain. Enoch was taken by God even as he preached the Word to the wicked world. Noah preached as he built the ark. This list goes on and on. The Scripture passage for today speaks of the persecution brought upon the early church. After Peter and John had been released from prison and returned to the church, they gave thanks for the deliverance that God had given them from the wicked. We, too, either are or will be oppressed by those that hate God. They are rebellious against him and his people. But we need not fear. God sees all those and he will protect us and bring us safely through each trial and tribulation that comes upon us. Sing Psalter 173:6.

July 23 Read Genesis 39:1-6

Psalm 66:8-9 Joseph must have felt very alone in Egypt. He had no one to turn to except God. But God was all he needed. God would not let Joseph’s soul be moved by any wickedness in Egypt. God would keep his feet on the path of life which would take him to heaven. We know little of Joseph’s worship except that he must have worshipped. This can be ascertained by his responses to his brothers when he revealed himself to them. Joseph must have blessed God daily and praised him for the strength that God gave him during his trying times. We can trust that God as well. He is our God. He will keep our souls and not allow our feet to be moved. Each day let us bless him and thank him for the goodness he has shown to us. Sing Psalter 175:1.

July 24 Read I Thessalonians 2:1-12

Psalm 66:10-12 These verses are a continuation of the way in which God leads his people. That way often contains many trials which afflict both our bodies and souls. He sometimes leads us on the way of sickness. Some of God’s people are riddled with cancer or some other disease. This takes faith to realize that it is for our profit. Others have trials of financial hardship. Some live in countries where the government is hostile toward God and his cause. Through these trials God refines his people even as a metal smith refines metal by the fire of the forge. God does not let us pass through these trials alone. No, he is right there by our sides taking us through these things and bringing us safely to the heavenly Jerusalem. We need to remember these things even as we lie on the sick bed, or we attend to the dying friend or relative. This is for our profit and for God’s glory. Sing Psalter 174:1.

July 25 Read Micah 6:6-16

Psalm 66:13-15 Tomorrow we go to church. That should give us great pleasure. What will be our attitude toward going to church and keeping the Sabbath. Are we desirous of those who use the Sabbath for their benefit and pleasure. Are we unhappy when we worship in the way God has commanded us? If we are, we have already forgotten the deliverance he has given to us in trials. We have forgotten all the benefits he has bestowed upon us starting with salvation and including physical good. Worship is a time of speaking well of our God. It is a time of bowing before our sovereign King in humble submission. God is the God who keeps us from all evil. How will we thank him tomorrow? David speaks often about worship in the Psalms. It must have weighed heavily upon his soul. Does it weigh upon ours? Are we content to worship the king in the way he has appointed? Sing the second stanzas of Psalters 174 and 175.

July 26 Read I Timothy 1:12-17

Psalm 66:16-17 How many of us can tell the story of our salvation like the apostle Paul? How many of us were murderers of God’s covenant people and became ministers of the gospel? Paul had quite a story to tell. So do we. Oh, outwardly we might not seem as bad as Paul, but our natures are the same. We would kill if we saw it would be for our benefit except God’s grace prevent us. We have a story to tell of our salvation. Do we tell it? Or do we hide the glorious truth of the gospel? What do your neighbors know about your church attendance today? Have you forgone some pleasure today in order to keep the fourth commandment? David was glad to tell of all that God had done for him. So was Paul. Are we? Sing Psalter 175:3.

July 27 Read Jonah 2

Psalm 66:18-19 I never tire of reading Jonah 2. I pray that I may be able to pray such a beautiful prayer of gratitude when God delivers me from my sin. I hope that I do not have to go through the depths that Jonah did. But if I do, I pray that God will be as gracious to me as he was to Jonah. God does hear our prayers. He also answers them. His answers may not be our wishes, but his answers will be good for us. Of that I am confident. As we begin another week of work let us put aside the sin that besets us. Let us go to God in prayer knowing that he will hear us and will answer us. His answer will be good and will be a blessing for us. Sing Psalter 174:3

July 28 Read Psalm 66

Psalm 66:20 We come to the end of this Psalm of praise. The psalmist has taken us through life’s trials, he has shown us our sin, and he has made known that deliverance is only by the hand of God. He ends the Psalm as he begins it. He praises God. Do we do that? Today is a week day. Do we remember that this is also a day that God has made? Do we remember that we are to rejoice and be glad in it for his sake? David could praise God because he had tasted of God’s goodness. Look around you, people of God, most of us must realize that we have more that we need. All of us must praise God for the realization of our salvation. Praising God must come easy to us no matter what our station and calling in this life is. Praise God, people of God. Praise him, young people. He has done wonderful things for us. Sing the fourth stanzas of Psalters 174 and 175.

July 29 Read Psalm 67

Psalm 67:1-2 Verse 1 makes a statement of desire. This should be the desire of all God’s people. We must desire the mercy, blessing, and favor of God. We need these things. The reason is given in the second verse. The reason is very different than what we might expect. We might think we need God’s favor in order to prosper or to endure upon this earth. We may even think that we need his favor for our salvation. This is true, but it is not the reason given here. We need God’s favor so that his name may be known through out the earth. This must be done so that Christ will come. This gives to us the impetus for mission work. Are we answering the call? Do we desire Jehovah’s favor so that we can spread his name to the four corners of the earth? We need to ponder this idea and respond to it so that God’s Name will be magnified. Sing the first stanza of Psalters 176, 177, and 178.

July 30 Read Matthew 25:31-46.

Psalm 67:3-5 Praising God seems like a good thing to do, doesn’t it? It even seems like it could be pretty easy to do most of the time. Singing for joy can be very enjoyable to the people of God. Think of the pleasure we get from hearing or singing some of the majestic songs of God. Do we sing for joy because God is coming as our judge? True, we know that he will judge the wicked, and this brings us much comfort, especially those of us who have to face persecution from the wicked. How ready are we to face our judge? How confident are we of hearing, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?” Will it be said of us that because we have helped the least of these we have helped Christ? Our praises can only be praises when our actions match the words that we sing. Sing the second stanza of Psalters 176 and 177 and stanzas 2 and 3 of Psalter 178.

July 31 Read Revelation 19:1-9

Psalm 67:6-7 What is the final outcome of our praising God in a proper way and with a proper heart? God will bless us. I am sure that this blessing is both physical and spiritual. Oh, we do not look on physical things the way the Old Testament saint had to. Christ has come and has fulfilled all of those ideas. But yet our life on this earth is affected by our attitude toward God and his commands. He also blesses us spiritually in this life. We receive comfort from reading and hearing God’s word. We also feel the assurance that our prayers have reached his ears. We also read that the ends of the earth will fear God. We saw this was a reason for the expressions found in the first verse of this Psalm. God wants his gospel to go forth and it will by way of God’s people bringing proper praise to their maker. Is this our prayer and desire? Sing the third stanza of Psalters 176 and 177 and stanza four of Psalter 178.

 

Devotional by Skip Hunter

Reprinted from August 1998.

Watching Daily At My Gates

The Song of Zion

“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”

August 1 Read Psalm 68:1-14

Psalm 68:1-2 One source says that this is a prayer at the moving of the ark. These first verses seem to indicate this as they parallel the words in Numbers 10:33-36. David moved the ark into Jerusalem soon after he became king. He wanted this symbol of God’s presence close to him and the center of his kingdom. It is a prayer they we need to consider even as God’s enemies make war on the church today and in the days to come. It seems as we are at peace, but it is a false peace. Satan is preparing his forces to wage all out war against God and his church. Let us prepare for such war by arming ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit. Let us include in our daily prayers the request that God destroy his enemies. With this prayer we also pray “Thy kingdom come.” Sing Psalter 179:1.

August 2 Read I Thessalonians 5:16-28

Psalm 68:3 Today’s verse stands in contrast with those of yesterday. We see this first of all by the word but with which the verse begins. We also see the contrast in the content of the materials. While God’s enemies are being destroyed, the righteous are rejoicing. Why is this the case? We rejoice not at the destruction of those who make our life miserable. That can never be the source of any exultation on our part. Our rejoicing is that God’s enemies are destroyed! By this destruction his name is glorified. He receives all power, and glory, and strength because he is God. We must rejoice in his exaltation. Today is his day. There is no better day to rejoice in God’s greatness. We must use this day for his good. We must never take this day for our pleasure or advancement. To do that is to despise the glory of the Lord. We need this admonition in this day and age. We easily fall in the trap of using Sunday for our own good. Let God’s name be exalted and let it be done all the day. Sing Psalter 179:1.

August 3 Read Revelation 5:1-14

Psalm 68:4 This verse gives to us the manner in which we are to be glad and rejoice before God. We are to do it by singing. The verse also gives the content of such singing. We are to extol the God of the heavens and earth. We are to make sure that his greatness permeates every word of the songs that we sing in praise to his name. We see the word JAH in the verse. According to my research this is an abbreviation of God’s covenant name Jehovah. Therefore our songs are not just about any god, they are about and for the God who has called us by name and has promised to us eternal life. This is a precious heritage. We must sing about it daily. Our songs serve to glorify him and to thank him for the wonderful work of salvation which he has done for us. Let us sing to Jehovah our God! Sing Psalter 179:2.

August 4 Read I Kings 17:17-24

Psalm 68:5 If it is not enough that our God is creator of all things, if it is not enough that our God is sovereign over all that occurs on this earth, if it is not enough that our God has established a gracious covenant with us, our God cares for those in distress. We see in this verse this typified in widows and orphans. A widow’s lot was very difficult in Israel. This was so because man’s sin caused him to disobey God’s commands concerning widows. If you are distressed in this life, do not despair. God is on your side. He hears your prayers in heaven. Pray to him. Cast your burdens upon him. Call upon his holy name in heaven. He will hear you. He will judge your cause and do it righteously. Cast your cares upon God for he whose eye is on the sparrow cares for you. Sing Psalter 179:3.

August 5 Read Obadiah 1-9

Psalm 68:6 We will be reading this short book during this month. For some of us it might be the first time. There are some thoughts which we would do well to contemplate and take to heart. Edom, Esau’s ancestors, were a constant thorn in the flesh to Israel. It was Edom who formed the cheering section as Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took Israel into captivity. It was Edom’s lot to live in the dry wilderness southeast of Israel. It was his lot precisely because of whom he was. Esau is the epitome of the reprobate. It is of Edom that God says he hates them. It was Edom through Esau who sold the birthright blessing. Rebellious Edom was sentenced to live in a dry land. It was dry physically, but it was also dry spiritually. Edom serves in contrast to the people of God. God’s people have the blessedness of covenant communion with God and each other. God’s people have been redeemed from the confinement of sin. For this we must be thankful. We can do this even as we pray the prayer of this Psalm. Sing Psalter 179:4.

August 6 Read Numbers 10:33-36

Psalm 68:7 This verse is linked to verse 8. David confesses that it was God who led Israel through the wilderness. It was God that was its leader and guide. Today’s reading was alluded to earlier this month. This small ceremony took place every time Israel moved at God’s command. It is worthwhile that we too realize that God is our leader and guide. Decisions made about our futures must only be made after calling upon Jehovah. As our college-age young people prepare for the coming year, they must see that career decisions must only be made in accordance to God’s will. They and their parents must call upon his name before they make plans for the future. Fathers must ask God to go before them as they lead their families down life’s paths. People of God, do you confess God as your leader? Then call upon him daily to guide you and obey his commands. Sing Psalter 180:1.

August 7 Read Habakkuk 3:1-13

Psalm 68:8 At the close of the previous verse the word Selah is found in our Bibles. It is thought that this word was used to indicate a pause or musical interlude. The next thought of David is that as God led Israel the whole earth trembled at his majesty. Even Mt. Sinai acknowledged that the Lord he is God. God’s presence going before us is an awesome force. Nothing can stand in his way. We must acknowledge his presence in our lives. We do this by going to him in prayer. We do this by reading and meditating upon his word. We do this by singing and listening to the songs of Zion. And after doing all these things, we obey him. The heavens, the earth, and even mountains obey the sovereign God. We must as well. Sing Psalter 180:1.

August 8 Read James 5:7-11

Psalm 68:9 Those of us who live in areas in which rain or the lack of it is significant can understand this verse of Scripture very well. As Israel lived in an area in which rain was intermittent at best, they, too, could understand God’s message to them. As they lived in the time of types and shadows, rain was a very clear picture of God’s blessing. They needed both the early and latter rain to insure the success of their crops. When the time without rain stretched longer and longer the people began to weary of life. When God sent that needed rain, Israel was reassured that their God was Jehovah. While we no longer live in the time of the types and shadows, we still need the blessing of Jehovah. Periods of times without the sense of that blessing may weary us. Receiving that blessing helps to confirm us in knowing that we are God’s inheritance. Let us pray for spiritual rain to refresh our lives. Sing Psalter 180:2.

August 9 Read John 12:1-8

Psalm 68:10 These words are fitting for us to consider on this Lord’s Day. Most of us have opportunity to contribute to the cause of the care of the poor. With what attitude are we giving today? Are we like the widow who gave her all, or are we like the Pharisee who gave so that all could see him? God cares for the poor. He cares for them both spiritually and physically. He has prepared for us poor sinners a place in his inheritance. What is our expression of gratitude for such a place? Are we giving from the heart? Let us examine our giving in this day. Let us look at both the gift and the motive. We must remember what God has given us and then thank him from whom all blessings flows. Sing Psalter 180:2.

August 10 Read John 1:1-14

Psalm 68:11 The Word is a wonderful thing. It is the speech of God. He has revealed it to us in his Son. We have it written for us in the inspired Scriptures. That Word is powerful. Scripture testifies that it is sharper than a two-edged sword. By that Word the worlds were created. By that Word salvation was wrought for the elect. Are you among the company of those who publish that word? Do you speak of those things which you heard in the house of God yesterday? The minister is not the only one commanded to speak the Word of God. He is ordained to office of ministry. One of the important callings of that office is to speak that Word officially on the Sabbath. But all of God’s people have the office of all believers. One of the important callings of that office is to speak the Word day in and day out. Are you speaking the Word? Sing Psalter 180:3.

August 11 Read Judges 4:10-17

Psalm 68:12 One of our thoughts yesterday was that God’s Word is powerful. Reading through Israel’s history will give much evidence of that fact. Our verse for today talks about kings fleeing. It was very evident to Israel and should be evident to us that it was by God’s Word that this was accomplished. Today our enemies will flee at the use of God’s Word. Jesus showed us the way as He answered the devil with the Word. We must learn that Word so that we can be ready to answer all those who oppose us. There is reward for faithful Bible study. It will not be the physical rewards that Israel received, but it will be the spiritual blessing of those who conquer God’s and their enemies by using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Sing Psalter 180:4.

August 12 Read Psalm 68:1-14

Psalm 68:13-14 These verses need some research in order to decipher the various expressions found in them. I will leave that for you to do. Maybe that will be a good Sabbath day exercise? The thrust of the verse, however, is that it was only by the power of Jehovah that Israel was successful in its battles with the wicked kings. There were times in which it looked as if there was no hope, but then Israel won. Think of the battle of Ai. Because of sin Israel lost. But when God was acknowledged as God, they were victorious over their enemies. We must ponder and take these truths to heart. We must put the truth that God is God into action in our lives. God will not be pleased with a life that ignores him and his decrees. Daily we need to pray for guidance in this matter. If we leave God and his commands out of our lives, he will leave us. For the child of God he will return, but often he will return in the way of chastisement. Think on these things, people of God. Keep God and his decrees at the forefront of your lives and thoughts. Sing Psalter 180:5.

August 13 Read Psalm 68:15-27

Psalm 68:15 David begins a new section with this verse. He speaks of the hill of God. This hill is Zion. This is the place where Abraham offered up Isaac. This is the place where the angel of death stopped during the plague punishing David and Israel for the sin of numbering the people. The hill of Bashan was reported to be one of fertile lands and beautiful scenery. Spiritually Zion, the church, is fertile and beautiful. David moved the ark to this place because he wanted the symbol of God’s presence found on this place. Is the church a beautiful place for us? Do we long to enter its doors? It is beautiful because God is there. Let us look forward to our day of worship in that place. Sing Psalter 180:6.

August 14 Read Psalm 24

Psalm 68:16 David continues his discussion on the hill of God. There are those who look down upon the church. They say there is salvation in other ways and in other religions. There are those who say that salvation does not necessarily have to come through the blood of the Lamb. Some want to disregard the idea of the church as the body of Christ, and they wish to worship in other places or in other ways than he has commanded. This verse tells us that God has chosen Zion in which to dwell. God has ordained the place and manner of worship. Even when those around us tell us that to worship in the God-ordained way is not necessary, we must remember that God desires to dwell in Zion. Sing Psalter 180:6.

August 15 Read II Kings 6:8-18

Psalm 68:17 The world likes to boast in numbers. They look at the size of their armies and the numbers of their weapons. The rich man likes to boast of the amount of his wealth. We could add much to this list of the abundance of things. We, too, fall into this sin. We either think that because we have a multitude of something we will prosper, or we despair because we see nothing but trouble ahead of us. Scripture, in countless places, speaks of the multitudes of God’s angels. These angels watch over and protect his church. They sang at creation, they witnessed the giving of the law at Sinai, and they rejoiced over the death and resurrection of Christ. They await the day in which God brings all the church together into heaven. Do not despair, people of God. He has given his angels charge over us, and they will keep us even unto the end. Sing Psalter 180:7.

 

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