February 5 Read Daniel 3:13-18
Nebuchadnezzar, king of heathen Babylon and symbol of the power of this world issued an edict “Worship my golden image.” Three young Jewish lads, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with the choice to worship this image or be cast into a fiery furnace. Did they attempt to compromise a bit or look for some way to escape this horrible dilemma? Not at all, but stated “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” They did not waver nor were they fatalists, but in childlike faith placed their trust in God even though it could mean physical death for them. We know that in this case God miraculously delivered them. Perhaps we will never be faced with such a severe test, but Satan is always tempting us to deny our faith. Whether these trials are small or large, we must pray for grace to be steadfast as were the three young men who stood before the king. May we, by God’s grace, pray for strength to resist the world and fight the good fight of faith. Sing Psalter 346:1, 2.
February 6 Read Habakkuk 3:14-19
We have here a wonderful confession of joy by the prophet Habakkuk at a time of impending trouble and destruction. In chapter one we read of the cruel Chaldeans whom the Lord would send against Judah because of their sins. Even though the prophet trembled at this prospect, yet he could “rest in the day of trouble.” Then he exclaimed that though the entire land should become utterly desolate, yet he would rejoice in the God of his salvation. And not only would he submit, but bear it willingly and even leap for joy. What a lesson for us. It takes faith to utter these words, not an attitude of Stoicism in which one is unmoved by joy or grief, but a living faith wrought by God the object of our faith and author of our salvation. We may encounter bitter disappointments or suffer great loss, yet in all trials we must look at the present in the light of the future and praise God for his marvelous grace. Sing Psalter 20:1-3.
February 7 Read Malachi 3:16-18
The voice of revelation was silent for a period of four hundred years after these words of Malachi were written. At that time the exiles had returned from captivity, Jerusalem and the temple were restored, and a form of worship was restored. However, this formal worship was polluted. The priests profaned the holiness of God; the Sadducees, who denied the angel world and the resurrection, were in power as were the Pharisees, a proud, self-righteous sect who preached righteousness by the works of the law. In the midst of this was a remnant of true believers whom God reserved to himself. These sought each other’s company and spoke to each other of the Lord Whom they loved. God heard them and remembered them in his book. Our situation is not so different today. Can those comforting words be said about us? Parents, do you love to speak about God with your fellow saints and set good examples for your children? Young people do you count it a privilege to attend societies so you may mutually edify each other? The Lord listens to those who fear him and counts them as his jewels. Sing Psalter 309:1-4.
February 8 Read Matthew 6:24-34
The central thought in this passage is an exhortation to seek first the kingdom of God, thereby making this a priority in our lives. We are citizens of that heavenly kingdom whose ruler is God through Christ. That means that each of us must desire to serve its God, obey its laws and to seek it as the fundamental principle of our lives. We seek it, children, when we walk in obedience. We seek it, young people, when we keep ourselves pure and when we search for a godly life mate. We seek it, adults, when we sacrifice all for it, when we love the truth and are willing to be despised for God’s sake. Can we seek this kingdom in and of ourselves? No, it is the work of God in regeneration, giving us the new life of the kingdom in our hearts. In the way of putting that kingdom first in all of our thoughts, words and deeds, God promises that our earthly needs will be supplied. Let us thank, love and serve this sovereign and providential King. Sing Psalter 49:1-3.
February 9 Read Mark 9:17-27
We read here about doubt and trust, unbelief and belief. The distraught father of the demon possessed son sought Jesus’ help after his disciples could not cast out the evil spirit. He said to Jesus, “If thou canst… .” Jesus then answered, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible.” In effect, Jesus forces him to look into his heart and examine his faith. By grace he then exclaims through tears of repentance, “I (do) believe; help thou my unbelief.” What about your assurance of faith, dear reader? Do you sometimes doubt God’s work of grace in your heart? We are not always living on the mountain top of faith, but when you sink into the valleys, hear God’s word telling you, “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” Phil. 1:6. Then we can also echo this confession, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Sing Psalter 185:1-3.
February 10 Read John 6:58-69
After Jesus fed a great multitude with bread, he departed from them by ship across the Sea of Galilee, for this people were intent on making him their king. They would have a king that could deliver them from their enemies and fill them with food. When they found him on the morrow, Jesus rebuked them and proclaimed that he was the bread of life which came down from heaven. This kind of king and this kind of bread they despised and soon all left him. Jesus turned to his disciples and said “Will ye also go away?” How true this is yet today. People want a social gospel, one that exalts man. They do not want a righteous and holy God Who loves truth and justice. They do not want to hear about sin and depravity, particular grace and judgment to come. By God’s undeserved grace we can humbly answer Jesus’ question and say, “Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” People of God, may we indeed count it a privilege to feed on that Word from week to week. Sing Psalter 333.
February 11 Read Acts 5:17-29
There are many passages in Scripture that command us to be subject to the civil magistrates for they are powers ordained of God. As a rule, most of their laws are reasonable and the child of God has no problem to obey them. The only time we may and must refuse to obey is when we are commanded to do something contrary to God’s Word. Peter and the apostles, in obedience to Christ’s command to be his witnesses, publicly proclaimed his gospel. They were imprisoned and beaten as a result. Perhaps we may not be faced with such severe demands, but our calling is the same nevertheless. Will we refuse to work on Sunday or refuse to join a godless labor union even if it costs us our jobs? These are two examples, but let them serve to guide us in this important principle. May we heed the words of Christ in Luke 16:10 “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much .” Sing Psalter 161:1-3
February 12 Read Romans 8:24-28
We have a most blessed confession in verse 28: “We know that all things work together for good…” This is an amazing statement which only the child of God can possible make. All things! Can you imagine that? Not just the things that we would call pleasant, but also the trials, the heartaches, sicknesses, loss of material possessions, and even death itself. How can that be? The answer is that it is good to those who love God. And who are those who love God? They are those whom God loves, for we read in I John 4:19, “We love him because he first loved us .” All things that happen to us are sovereignly appointed in love for our salvation, and in that confidence we can declare, “For we know.” Then face today, tomorrow, and all the rest of our days which God is pleased to give us in that blessed assurance. Sing Psalter 191:1, 6, 7.
February 13 Read II Cor. 6:14-18
God saw fit to place his church in the world surrounded by unbelievers. He created enmity between the children of God and the children of the world at the very beginning of the human race. In all events of history, God leads his church unto salvation, and uses the world of unbelief in spite of themselves to accomplish this purpose. The world is the tares among the wheat and the scaffolding in the building of his temple. As God’s children, young and old alike, we are called to live in the world but not to be a part of that world. Our passage today tells us that we must not enter into their activities or have close fellowship with them. This is especially true for you, young people. Even though higher education or job seeking puts you in contact with that world, remember your holy calling is to not compromise your principles. Especially as you seek friends and your life’s mate, pray for guidance that you may truly agree in faith, hope and doctrine. Sing Psalter 328:1, 2, 4.
February 14 Read Eph. 6:10-17
You have many different names as members of God’s church in the world. Some examples are sheep, branches, living stones, and we could name many others. Today we fit the description of soldiers, called to put on the whole armour of God. Five parts of this armour are for defense and one for offense. The Roman soldier at the time in which this epistle was written was well equipped to repel the arrows and swords of the enemy. Today we are called to put on the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and helmet of salvation as a sure defense against the attacks of Satan. This is spiritual armour, most necessary to overcome our spiritual enemies. The weapon of offense is the sword of the Spirit, namely the Word of God. Feast on that Word today as you hear it proclaimed, and by faith put on the entire armour so that you may be a well equipped soldier in the army of God. Sing Psalter 352:1-4.
February 15 Read III John 1-4
The last verse of our passage today can be echoed with great fervor by many people, but especially pastors, elders and parents. To hear that their children walk in the truth is indeed a cause for rejoicing. What is truth? Truth is a virtue of God; it belongs to his eternal unchangeableness. Truth is revealed in Scripture and there is no truth apart from Holy Scripture. When children walk in the truth, they walk in obedience to that Word and that brings joy. When the spiritual children of the pastor and elders walk in the truth, there is harmony and growth in knowledge and faith. When parents see their children walk in truth, then love, peace, and covenant fellowship abounds. On the contrary, when children or young people do not walk in truth, but rather in rebellion and disobedience, great sorrow is the result. Pastors and elders labor then in heaviness and sorrow, and parents with grief and tears. Children and young people, pray for grace to walk in the truth and you will reap rich harvests of joy. Sing Psalter 213:1-3.
“The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel” (Genesis 49:23, 24). We have in these verses a metaphor that pictures a lonely bowman surrounded by fierce enemies who hate him and aim their arrows at his very heart. These words, uttered by Jacob as he lay a-dying, were directed at Joseph. We all know the history of Joseph when his cruel brothers sold him as a slave, and the resultant unjust persecution he had to endure. We can compare this picture with the nation of Israel when we follow their history. And think of Jesus Christ himself who was reviled, forsaken by all and even put to death. And how true is this today of the church and its members. But all through history, and even now, the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. The stone of Israel by his mighty hands will give his people the power to fight the warfare of faith with victory assured. All praise to the Captain of our salvation. Psalter 207.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). We do not know for certain what the occasion was or the circumstances of David when he composed this psalm, but we know he had many enemies and faced many dangers. Our lives may be relatively calm in comparison but these words are timely to take upon our own lips every day. Even as David expresses confidence in the God of his salvation as his only hope, so we also must realize that our strength is really nothing compared to our enemies that assail us. The world hates us and seeks our ruin; the devil strives to undermine our assurance of salvation, and our own flesh faints with fear and weakness. Though the night may be dark, God is our light. Though the evil that threatens us may be great, God is our salvation. Though our enemies may be numerous and strong, they shall stumble and fall for God is our strength. Take courage, people of God, and go forward without fear, for the victory is certain through faith. Psalter 163.
“Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:4). What a welcome prospect is a time of rest after many hours of toil and labor. This of course is a picture, however imperfect, of the rest of which our text is speaking. We read inGenesis 2:2 that God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Adam, the first man, was called to labor that he might enter into God’s rest, but he failed through unbelief. God as a Shepherd throughout history led his people eventually into Canaan, which was a symbol of the heavenly rest. But this rest was not final. There is a blessed and eternal rest for the people of God, a heavenly and glorious City. We are called to enter into that rest. Oh, the realization of that rest cannot possibly depend on our labor, but only on the amazing work of our Savior, the true Rest-giver, who suffered and died for us. Nevertheless, we are admonished to labor for that rest. This means that all things that we do must be subservient to the heavenly. We cannot love the things above and the things of this world at the same time. By grace we willingly sacrifice all things for the attainment of that final rest. In that glorious rest we shall enjoy pleasures forevermore. Psalter 363.
“Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:8, 10, 11). Who among us has not seen the desolations that God has recently brought in the earth? Most of us have not seen these personally, but surely through the means of television and newspaper, we can behold it before our very eyes. Who can forget the destruction, loss of life, and utter hopelessness caused by a tsunami, earthquakes and hurricanes? Beside all that, wars continue to rage in various places. Shall we echo the world’s sentiment that surely a loving God would never cause all this? Shall we join in their foolish reasoning that Mother Nature is very capricious? On the contrary, we see that God speaks in judgment and we are very still. God will be exalted despite the raised fists in rebellion against him. The Lord of hosts is very powerful. He is powerful to cause utter destruction by a single word. He is also powerful to be our refuge unto all eternity. Let us humble ourselves, before his majesty, and exalt his Holy name. Psalter 124.
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1, 2). This word of God addresses us with an admonition to be followers of God that is demonstrated by a godly walk. A person’s walk is his way of life and it soon becomes apparent whom they follow or imitate. Many people follow the popular idols of this world as worthy examples to emulate, but that way leads to destruction. Dear reader, let us not be followers of the devil and his allurements, but rather follow the pattern of God himself. Then by his enabling grace we walk in love to him and our neighbor, which is the bond of perfectness, because Christ has first loved us and because he loved us, he gave himself for us on the cross, a perfect and sweet smelling sacrifice to God. To be followers of God often means we will be despised and ridiculed by the world. But even then we must walk in love and pray for them that despitefully use us. In that way we are imitators of God and blessed by him. Psalter 20.
“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:26, 27 a). What a beautiful picture of love and security is given in the face of fearful anxiety and danger. Picture for example a little child who is hurting or is afraid. What does he do? He runs to the arms of his father and feels safe in his loving embrace. So it is for us who are the Jeshurun that God loves. Individually, and as the little flock, the church, we have many enemies that assail and threaten us. But listen! There is none like our God who rides upon the heavens above and bears us up from underneath. Although everything around us is temporary and unstable, yet those everlasting arms hold us tightly and cause us to persevere unto the end. What a glorious God and Savior is this God of Jeshurun! Psalter 126.
“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked shall perish” (Proverbs 10:28). As is so common in the book of Proverbs, the antithesis is set forth in this verse and presents a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The righteous have hope and that hope is gladness. We may define hope as faith reaching out into the future, as assurance and longing. They even have that gladness now although they may suffer for the cause of God’s kingdom. The wicked on the other hand has his expectations, but they are expectations based on everything worldly. They seek the pleasures, fame, and riches of this life, but scorn the law of God and despise his precepts. All these things that they seek after will perish, and therefore their expectation must also perish in outer darkness. Not so with the righteous, who long for God’s fellowship now and who by his grace claim the righteousness of Christ as their only hope and salvation. That hope will never be put to shame. That hope is gladness and joy unspeakable realized unto all eternity. Psalter 363.
“Then he said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). The travelers to Emmaus, who were saddened in their souls by the events of the past few days, were unexpectedly met by a perfect stranger. In response to his question, they had unburdened their hearts. Their anguish concerned the death of the One whom they trusted to be the redeemer of Israel. Jesus answered by addressing them, “O fools and slow of heart.” They were touched but not offended as Jesus reveals to them the only way possible how that the Christ could not attain the promised glory any other way than the Scripture revealed way of suffering and death. What a wonderful sermon Jesus expounded to them. Their eyes were opened, their hearts burned and they understood. People of God, we are privileged to hear similar sermons every Lord’s day how that the Christ ought to have suffered, died, and rose again. The Old and the New Testaments agree with perfect unity regarding the plan of salvation. Believe this gospel with all your heart, and by grace cling to this Christ who brought us salvation. Psalter 58.
“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11 b). Have you learned this lesson, dear reader? That lesson is to be content no matter what your circumstances are in life. The grace of contentment is a wonderful and blessed state. By nature we tend to be discontented. It is so easy to become dissatisfied with various aspects of our lives. Perhaps you wish you could afford nicer clothes or a bigger house; maybe a better job or a prettier or more handsome face. And the list goes on and on. When the apostle Paul wrote these words he was in prison, nevertheless he was content. This is because contentment is a matter of the heart. It is a spiritual ability to conform our inner state to our outward conditions. Paul had to learn this when he prayed that God would remove the thorn in his flesh. The answer was, “My grace is sufficient for thee .” This is something we must learn also. We learn it by prayer and fellowship with God. When God is for us, nothing can be against us, for he beholds us in Christ and all things are ours for his sake. Psalter 100.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). The disciples had just heard a wonderful confession by Peter that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then revealed to them the path of suffering and death that awaited him, to which Peter said, “Be it far from thee Lord.” Jesus rebuked him and then gave his disciples the threefold requirement for his followers. These requirements certainly conflicted with their illusions about Jesus. Instead of earthly glory and fame, one must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. To deny oneself means to be willing to become nothing and to lose everything for the sake of Christ. To take up one’s cross means that you bear the hated of the world even as it revealed itself in its ultimate expression of hatred when they nailed the Savior to his cross. And as you bear that cross, you follow the leading of the Lord, submissively and willingly, renouncing your own will. To walk this way takes grace. Pray for that grace to persevere in following Christ, and the reward, also of grace, is great beyond comprehension. Psalter 81.
“O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” (Psalm 51:15). You will notice that this is a very personal prayer. The psalmist in the preceding verses had poured out his heart in deep confession and contrition for his terrible sins. Following the assurance of forgiveness, he asks God to open his lips in order to utter words of praise. This is a prayer that each of us personally must take on our own lips. But in order to do this, we must realize the implications of such a prayer. We read in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” And so when we pray that our lips may be opened, we of necessity include that our hearts may be opened and cleansed by grace. Only then can we break forth in praise to God. He only is worthy of praise for he is the very essence of goodness. He is righteousness, holiness, truth, Creator and Redeemer. And these are only a few of his glorious virtues. Let us show forth his praises with open lips in word and song, and may our entire lives testify of his grace and goodness. Psalter 141.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Dear reader, as you hear the word of God preached to you, do you realize what you are experiencing? That word is described as quick and powerful. This means it is a living and mightily active word and not only that, but it is sharper than a two-edged sword. Any soldier going into battle will make certain that his sword is extremely sharp for his life may depend upon it. A sharp blade will easily penetrate a person’s body. But the word of God is sharper than that sword for it penetrates into your deepest existence, your thoughts, aspirations, motives, and into your heart itself. It judges those thoughts and intents of the heart. It exposes us as we truly are. That word condemns us when it finds sin and hatred within. But it also reproves, and is a savor of life unto life to those in Christ from all eternity. Pray that that word may enter your heart as seed upon well-prepared soil and bring forth fruits of thankfulness and holiness. Psalter 334.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrews 4:14). We are called to do two things in this passage, namely, to see and to hold fast. The epistle to the Hebrews was designed to set before the Jews the claims of Christianity. No more were the animal sacrifices by an earthly priest required, for the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, offered up himself once for all and has passed into the heavens. The Hebrew believers were instructed that the types and shadows of the old dispensation had passed away and now they must see with eyes of faith that this great High Priest is exalted in glory. He is the author of their salvation. He is their Savior and Lord. This is our calling too as church of the new dispensation. We either profess Christ or we deny him. Let us hold fast therefore, by grace, to our Lord who as our High Priest, has sacrificed himself for us, makes continual intercession for us and who will one day come again to take us unto himself. Psalter 303.
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh” (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10 a). You will notice that Scripture addresses covenant youth in the masculine form, but the young women are included as well. One is not necessarily more spiritual than the other, nor more sinful. The very nature of young people is to be active. The young man has energy and stamina and the young woman is at the peak of her beauty. They are called to rejoice and walk in the ways of their heart and in the sight of their eyes. Young people, this certainly does not mean that you may do as you please, ignoring the fifth commandment and conducting yourselves according to your sinful natures and desires. There is a holy God who will bring you into judgment for those things. You are called to walk according to your regenerated heart and spiritually enlightened eyes by putting away all sorts of evil. Pray earnestly for grace to walk in a holy manner before God to whom you are accountable. Psalter 385.
“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12). The psalmist has exclaimed in the earlier verses of this psalm that the law of the Lord is perfect. His statutes are right and his judgments are true and righteous. In the keeping of them is great reward. Then he looks at himself inwardly as he examines the depths of his heart and realizes that often he has sinned unknowingly, not realizing at the time that what happened was indeed sinful. This type of sin is not only peculiar to the psalmist but to each of us as well. Perhaps because of a lack of spiritual discernment, we have sinned unknowingly and inadvertently, but they were sins nevertheless. We are called to discern our inmost thoughts and look at ourselves in the perfect light of God’s law. We discover that we are guilty of secret faults. What must we do? By grace turn to God for understanding of these errors and pray for cleansing and forgiveness based on the redemptive work of Christ our Savior. Psalter 40.
“Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright and I shall be innocent from the great transgression” (Psalm 19:13). The psalmist has just prayed for understanding and cleansing from his secret sins. Now he asks to be kept back from presumptuous sins. What does this word mean? In this instance it refers to willful and deliberate sins. This is a great evil in the sight of God. Who among us can say that he is not guilty of this type of sin? There are times when we succumb to the lure of the devil, the world, or our own sinful flesh, and sin deliberately even though our conscience accuses us of wrongdoing. We must earnestly pray for deliverance from these sins that they may not have control over us. A similar motivation for deliverance is found in Psalm 119:133, “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” Every step of our lives must be directed by the speech of God. Listen to that speech of God in the Scriptures. Study them, live in constant contact with them, carry them in your heart and be assured of forgiveness and pardon in the way of repentance. Psalter 38.