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Daily devotional

October 19 – Renewing our minds

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 Scripture reading: Romans 12:1-10 Today we begin a new week of work. If we are Christians, we should be unique in the way we approach our work and various activities. It is important to think on these things because otherwise, we will simply do things the way the world around us does them. Our work and thoughts will then be conformed to this world rather than focused on the kingdom that Jesus is bringing in by His Word and Spirit. So we must set our minds on the purpose for which God made us and for which God saves us, which is ultimately that everything be brought into submission to Jesus for God's glory. Whether you go to school, a worksite, work at home, or are on vacation, how can you submit your activities to Jesus and bring God glory? It takes a whole new mindset. We must be willing to follow Jesus' teaching and example. It means we have to take ourselves out of the centre of our thoughts and plans and put Christ there. When Jesus came, He came proclaiming the kingdom of God. This required repentance, that is a change of heart and mind to put God's glory as our utmost goal. We all have abilities that are to be used for the sake of others in service to Christ. It is only when we view everything in light of the purposes of God, that we can begin to discern what is good, acceptable and perfect. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would rearrange the way you think so that He is the focus of your affections, work, studies, play - everything. Submit in everything to Jesus.

Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

Daily devotional

October 14 – The purpose of ministers

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus....preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 4 Ministers are pastors or shepherds. Together with the elders of the church, they are to equip the people of God for ministry. Ministers do this primarily through two means: the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. God's Word feeds us since it reveals to us the living Word, namely Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. 1 Timothy 4 teaches us that a good preacher uses the Word to expose false teachings and points to the truth. The Word is like a sharp double-edged sword, that penetrates to our deepest parts to expose our sins and expose us to the light of Christ. Thus Paul teaches Titus (Titus 1:9) to encourage living in accord with sound teaching so that no one will malign the Word of God, but rather be led to glorify God. It is not an easy task to reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching. Thus it is crucial that pastors continually pray for themselves and the people under their charge. We should constantly be keeping them in prayer that they may faithfully bring the word and so equip us for ministry. Because of their work, ministers are often the recipients of criticism. Because they are sinful they often fail. Forgive them and love them and let them know that you do. Enable them to do the work of ministry with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no blessing to you (Hebrews 13:17). Suggestions for prayer Pray for your minister that he may faithfully bring the Word.  Pray that you might have a teachable spirit. Pray also for missionaries. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 13 – Called to ministry

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… – Ephesians 4:11-12 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-12 We all need the proper tools to do our work. Yet all the tools in the world do not help us if we do not know how to use them. Our children also need to know how to use the tools we give them. We not only give them Bibles, but we teach them how to use them! Every Christian is given a gift (gifts) to be used for the Lord. We need to learn how to use it (them). This is why we were given the apostles and prophets (the Bible), evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They are to equip us for ministry, teaching us how to be faithful ministers using the gifts God has given us. Many think that ministry is something ministers and missionaries are called to and that as church members, they are just to be ministered to. This is out of step with what the Spirit says in these verses. We have a joint ministry. We all are anointed to build up the church, helping fellow Christians and bringing in the lost sheep so that the church increasingly becomes one. If you are not engaged in this ministry in some form, you must repent of your sin and begin to fulfill the ministry to which the Spirit of God is calling you. While all are gifted, we all need each other in order to be built up, to grow in grace and truth. We must be active in our mutual ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to use your gifts to build others up and to fulfill your ministry. Pray for your pastors and elders that they may help you in your ministry. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 12 – Grateful praise-worthy living

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day today. Christians will above all thank and praise God for calling them out of darkness into His wonderful light. We do so best by speaking of Him and showing Christ's character in our living. In the Old Testament, we read that God redeemed a people in order to bring praise to His name. In Jeremiah 13:11, God says: I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. This God-centered focus should be ours. Often we fall into the trap of thinking about our success, our honour, our benefits, even in times of worship and praise, yet God's purpose for all of our living is His glory. When we forget this, our witness is poor and God's name is not glorified as it ought to be. Today is a day for prayer and song, for speaking to others about the greatness of our God. Salvation is not simply for our welfare and pleasure, but that we might serve God and witness for Jesus. We have a natural tendency to conform to the pattern of life around us as Israel did. We need to discipline ourselves to live holy lives reflecting God's character. As kingdom citizens, we are aliens and strangers here. Focus your living on Jesus, abstain from selfish desires to living holy lives for our Saviour's praise. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks for all of God's blessings, above all the wonderful life we have in Jesus. Pray for a Christ-centered focus in all you do. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 11 – A peculiar people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 135 Today we consider the phrase a people belonging to the Lord. This phrase is based on Old Testament language as in Psalm 135:4. Some versions use the phrase a peculiar people; peculiar not in the sense of strange, but because God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He made us His own, to be light in this world. Thus we are different from all other peoples. You find this idea in Exodus 19:5 where God says, now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. All the earth belongs to the Lord, but believers are special to Him (peculiar, treasured). The Old Testament often refers to God's people this way. Malachi 3:17 calls those who serve the Lord, His treasured possession; there God is speaking of those who would yet come to Him. The church is God's treasured possession because we have been bought by the blood of Christ. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die to remove the guilt of our sin. As you gather for worship today remember how the sacrifice of Jesus has brought us to God. All who confess their sins and believe in Jesus as their atoning sacrifice are His special people, His treasured possession. Jesus is coming again to take us to be with Him forever. Treasure Him who treasures you! To God be the glory! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for all God's people, His church. Give thanks that He forgives all our sin and calls us His children. Pray for a heart that treasures Him who treasures us. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 28 – The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: Christ-like gentleness

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench. – Matthew 12:20 Scripture reading: Matthew 11:25-30; 12:15-21 The power and gentleness of God are supremely revealed in the person and work of Christ. Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). People found rest in Jesus’ presence. This is one of the marks of a person who is gentle. Do people get nervous and tense up in your presence or are they calm and relaxed in your presence? People could rest in the presence of Jesus Who was gentle and lowly in heart. Matthew 12:20 says, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench.” The bruised reed and smoldering wick is the person who has been hurt in some way, either due to his/her own sin, the sin of others or the harsh circumstances of life, and is barely hanging on by a thread. That kind of person could find healing and hope in Jesus’ presence. His words and actions would not be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Rather they would bind up the broken-hearted. You see, the same Jesus Who could calm the storm with His almighty power could also calm the troubled soul with His powerful gentleness. Are your words and actions powerfully gentle towards others? Suggestions for prayer Repent of harsh, abrasive, inconsiderate thoughts, words and deeds. Reflect on the following Scriptures and pray for the Spirit to give you Christ-like gentleness (Proverbs 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Titus 3:1-2; Galatians 6:1; James 3:17). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 27 – Let us consider how to stir one another up to love

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 When we are called to worship on the Lord’s Day, we are not only called to draw near to God, we also are called to draw near to God’s people. Because Christ first considered us in love, we are called to consider one another in love. As you draw near to your brothers and sisters in Christ today, consider, is someone doubting? Is someone discouraged? Is someone struggling with sin? Is someone grieving? Is someone not there? Consider what your brothers and sisters are going through, and consider how to stir them up to love and good works. In order to do these things we need to diligently attend to the means of grace in corporate worship, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.” We need the public means of grace and we need each other. We need others to stir us up to love and good works, and we need to stir up others to love and good works. Furthermore, we need to be, “encouraging one another.” How can you encourage others as you gather for worship today? Just your presence alone is an encouragement to others. Singing with all your heart is an encouragement. Listening attentively to the preached Word is an encouragement to your pastor. Telling others you are praying for them is an encouragement. How else can you be an encouragement? Let us be, “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will make you an encouragement to someone today as you gather for worship. Pray that you would be stirred up to love and good works. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 26 – The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: the gentleness of God

But the fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Isaiah 40 George Bethune once said, “Perhaps no grace is less prayed for, or less cultivated than gentleness…seldom do we reflect that not to be gentle is sin.” When is the last time you prayed for more gentleness? When is the last time you repented of not being gentle? But what is gentleness? It’s not shyness, timidity or fearfulness. A lot of people think of it in those terms and view it as a weakness. R.C Sproul rightly points out, “Gentleness does not preclude the possibility of strength but presupposes it.” Gentleness is power under self-control. Jerry Bridges notes that “Gentleness is illustrated by the way we would handle a carton of exquisite crystal glasses: it is the recognition that the human personality is valuable but fragile and must be handled with care.” The opposite of gentleness is abrasiveness and arrogance. We see in Isaiah 40 that God is both the all-powerful God Who created and sustains the world and the God Who speaks tenderly to His people (40:1-2). “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (40:11). The Psalmist declares, “Your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” The best teachers have a good balance of power and gentleness, toughness and tenderness. This is why Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is the greatest teacher of all! Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins of not being gentle in your thoughts, words and deeds. Pray for the Spirit to work Christ-like gentleness in you towards others. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 25 – The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:22-23; Hebrews 6:13-20 We live in a world of broken promises. But thanks be to God we belong to a promise-keeping God Who is always faithful to His covenant promises to us in Christ (Hebrews 6:13-20). And if you trust in Christ, God has promised you that He is your God and that He will never leave you nor forsake you, but will pardon all of your sins forever, protect you from all of your enemies, and provide richly for you in Christ in this life and the life to come. He is unswervingly You will see this with your own eyes when Christ returns. But now, we walk by faith in God’s Word. His Word is absolutely honest and utterly dependable. How should we live in light of God’s faithfulness to us in Christ? In gratitude for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness we walk by the Spirit in faithfulness. Faithfulness includes being loyal, honest and dependable. It means, following through on your commitments, letting your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.” Where have you been flaky? In what relationships have you been a fair-weather friend? Where have you been dishonest? What commitments is God calling on you to follow through? Where you have failed, confess your sins and walk in faithfulness. God is faithful to forgive and to sanctify you by His Spirit (1 John 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Suggestions for prayer Sing and meditate on the words of the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” or “How Firm a Foundation.” Pray that God would produce the fruit of Christ-like faithfulness in you by the Spirit. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 12 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the necessity of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Love is central to the Christian life. Without it, we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. Without it our gifts add up to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Jesus summarized our entire duty to God and neighbour in the law, as love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus says that love for one another is evidence that one is His disciple (John 15:8-12). After listing several virtues, Paul says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). Indeed, it’s probably not a coincidence that Paul mentions love first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” He goes on to say, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:7-8; 5:1-3). Today we see the necessity of love and that love for God and neighbour are intimately connected. Beloved in Christ, let us love one another by the Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love God more by keeping His commandments in gratitude for God’s grace (1 John 4:19; 5:3). Pray that God will help you by His Spirit to love others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, and even your enemies. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 11 – The fruit of the Spirit: general observations

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…patience, kindness…1 Corinthians 13:4, 6 Love is patient and kind…rejoices. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Before we look at each aspect of the fruit that Paul mentions, it’s worth noting a few general observations. First, it is important to note that it is all one fruit. Paul doesn’t refer to his list as the fruits of the Spirit (plural), as if they are distinct from one another and you can have one without the other. Rather, Paul speaks in the singular and refers to it all as the one “fruit of the Spirit.” As we move on to joy and peace and patience, we are in one sense still talking about love and vice versa. We can see the close connection of the fruit in 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul says that love IS patient (a fruit of the Spirit). Love IS kind (a fruit of the spirit). Love rejoices (joy is a fruit of the Spirit). We are talking about the one fruit of the Spirit when we talk about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are like different facets of one diamond that we behold from different angles. Second, like the list of the works of the flesh (see September 6), this is not an exhaustive list. There are more aspects to the fruit of the Spirit than the nine virtues that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. We certainly could add humility, compassion, forgiveness and other virtues that the Spirit produces in us. All these virtues grow together in us as the one fruit of the Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would produce more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, conforming you to the image of Christ. Thank God that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 10 – The fruit of the Spirit: produced in us

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 Scripture reading: John 15:1-17 Yesterday we heard about Christ’s fruitfulness for us. Today we learn about Christ’s fruitfulness in us. We deserve to be judged for our unfruitfulness (the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21). But thanks be to God that Christ bore the judgment in our place! (Galatians 3:13). When we repent and believe in Christ, God forgives all our sins and credits the fruitfulness of Christ to our account. Even more, we receive the promised Spirit from the moment we first believe (Galatians 3:14). And now, that same Spirit Who bore good fruit for the Father, in the ministry of Christ for us, bears His fruit in our lives as we abide in Christ through faith (John 15:1-5). You see the secret of bearing fruit in the Christian life is not a self-help manual. Nor is it looking to the law for the power to obey. The law cannot give you the power to obey. It can only give you guidance on how to truly love God in gratitude. Only the Spirit can produce His fruit in your life. You need an inward heart renewal, which is a blessing promised in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). If you want more of the Spirit’s fruit in your life, you must be nourished by God’s Word and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The Word and sacraments point you to Christ, and the Spirit uses these means to transform you into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Suggestions for prayer Meditate on Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as revealed in the Word and sacraments. Pray that the Spirit will conform you more into His image and produce Christ-likeness in your life. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 9 – The fruit of the Spirit: Christ’s fruitfulness

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… – Isaiah 11:1-2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-5; 27:6; 32:14-17 Yesterday we saw Israel’s unfruitfulness. Today we learn more about how Christ is True Israel, Who bears fruit pleasing to the Heavenly Father. In Isaiah 11, we find that One will arise from within Israel, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (v. 1). And He is fruitful because He is anointed with the Holy Spirit (vv. 2-5). The justice and righteousness that Israel failed to produce in Isaiah 5 would be produced in THIS faithful Servant. And not only righteousness, but also the fruit of faithfulness, peace, and joy (Isaiah 11:5; 32:17; 51:3; Galatians 5:22). And this True Israel would be so fruitful that one day the whole world would be filled with good fruit (Isaiah 27:6). This is because He will pour out His Spirit on His people (Isaiah 32:14-17; 44:2-4; 45:8). This is the work of Christ for us. He is fruitful so that we might be fruitful unto God. He was anointed with the Spirit at His baptism and God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He bore fruit for God that was perfect, that yielded good wine, wine that has no blemish, no sour or bitter notes and has a perfect finish. And yet, He became like wild rotten grapes for us. Our unfruitfulness was imputed to Him. He was judged in our place, forsaken, so that we would never be forsaken by God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the fruitfulness of Christ on your behalf. Rest and rejoice in the good news that God will never leave you nor forsake you because of Christ. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 27 – Evil men and the love of God

You love evil more than good… – Psalm 52:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:1-4 Are you ever surprised by evil? In my earlier life counseling teenaged sex offenders, I remember being struck by what people can do to one another. Some of the young men I worked with seemed to have no conscience or remorse for the cruelty they inflicted upon others. Yet, most, if not every one of them had suffered the same kind of brutality. The cycle of sin is real and ugly. When I read the news, I wonder about the state of the world in the days before the flood. How bad was it? Was it worse than the days we live in? When we read about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is our society any different than that corrupt society? David speaks about Doeg who bragged about killing the priests of God with no conscience or remorse. The wicked abound and it seems like they have the control. We see the growing drug problems and bizarre sexuality, and we are concerned. We cannot help but think about those words, “You love evil more than good.” The love of God is steadfast. I see the love of God flowing, mingled down in the blood of Christ on the cross, and I cannot help but be driven to the love of God. With Paul, we will fight against sin the rest of our lives and slowly, but surely, love good more than evil. David gave us the words to sing about and to take it to the Lord in prayer. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will have the perspective of God’s love and let go of what is evil in our lives. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 26 – Evil men and the love of God

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. – Psalm 52:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:1 How great is God’s love? How enduring and amazing! If God always is, then love always is too. We can trust in that. It is that love that helps us understand what wickedness is all about. It helps us understand the absolute foolishness, not only of the deeds of wicked men, but their utterly empty understanding about life. When we think of the love of God in Christ Jesus, that the Father so loved us that He gave His only Son for us, we begin, at least in part, to understand the love Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 13. The wicked man cannot grasp this. He does what he does because he rejects the love of God. He exalts himself. He wants to make himself great. He speaks as if he were great. But he is completely deceived. We need only to look back at men like Stalin, or Hitler who thought they would build lasting kingdoms. But the mighty have fallen and their dominions are no more. What of us? Do we understand this? Is there some sin we cling to? I suppose we would know enough to not brag about our sins. Sometimes we do. We can revel in our past, forgetting that we ought not to remember the sins of our youth. The love of God is pure. Let our lives and love be genuine too. Let us seek wisdom. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will see the evil in us, around us and in our leaders and neighbors, praying that they will repent and find the love of God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 25 – Singing the truth about God

The righteous shall see and fear – Psalm 52:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 52 Have you walked through a forest after a strong wind has blown? You can see a big old tree toppled over; its roots are exposed. David compares wicked Doeg to that tree. Doeg killed the priests of Nob who helped David. David makes clear that all the wicked, like Doeg, will taste the judgment of the LORD. It is good to be reminded that God is forever and always God. He is the great King, as we have seen from Psalm 50 and merciful as we have seen from Psalm 51. But let us not take that mercy for granted. It is good to think about the end of wickedness and folly. The conclusion is the tumbling down of the wicked. That covenant theme presented by Psalm 1 runs its course. If we love God, we are like the green and verdant tree that lives in the House of God. We, who live in the wonder of the work of Christ, have good reason to believe that God forgives, so let us trust God to order our lives and set the direction of our paths. If we love God, we will live by His commandments. Then we will bear those fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:21,22). If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Then our God will be honored and perhaps our neighbors will be won to the good life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will respect God and His desire for our lives, for His glory, and the blessing for the lives of our loved ones, neighbors and selves. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 24 – Singing about our restoration to worship

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. – Psalm 51:8 Scripture reading: Psalm 51 What if God did not come to David and simply left David in his sin? Would David have returned to God? Would he have written Psalm 51? Would David have looked so fondly for the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ? I cannot help but think about Paul teaching us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. God, the Father, can take the darkest stain and wash it out white in Jesus’ blood. He makes the broken sinner whole. The God who comes in judgment moves in grace so that we can experience the blessings of full salvation and worship. Psalm 51 is the sinner’s song to answer to Psalm 50. Here are the words of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. I think my best prayers have been when I was searching and crying out for God in the utter depth of misery. It was like when blind Bartimaeus cried out to the Son of David for mercy—there was no other hope. These are the inspired words of response. We sing to an angry God offended by empty worship. Yet, these words cannot be ours until we have suffered and sorrowed over our sins. Then we run to God and, when He forgives us, we worship and adore Him. In Christ’s resurrection, we have a new life, clean hearts and a renewed spirit! Psalm 52 will lead us to a song of trust and assurance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will no longer be conformed to the things of this world, but be renewed in the transformation of our minds to do the good and pleasing will of God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 11 – Singing to call others repentance

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me – Psalm 50:14-15 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:14-15 There is always hope with God. He will not stay angry forever. He warns so that we will turn. As He spoke through Ezekiel: "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?'" (Ezekiel 33:11). With Israel, the LORD calls us to offer our lives as a gift to Him. Worship without the heart is empty worship. But if we come in full repentance, the LORD will forgive us. The LORD calls the Church, through the congregation, to worship in spirit and truth. The soul of worship is thanksgiving. We come in the joy of what He has already given us rather than to get more from His Fatherly hand. God reveals the proper attitude for worship. How much more for us living in the death and resurrection of Christ? The LORD provided the sacrifice we needed and now calls us to offer our lives in services to Him. Do we pray from a position of thankful humility or arrogant desire? The LORD calls us to keep our promises to love, honor and obey Him. In time He will deliver us from all our trials and troubles and glorify us. Praise Him today and every day. Thank Him. Let us turn from our sins and find the blessings of the covenant now and forever. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart of thankfulness and a life of loving obedience to win others to Christ and bring joy to our Father in heaven. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 10 – Singing to call the Church to respect the Lord

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. – Psalm 50:12 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:12-13 The LORD calls Israel to remember that He is the Creator-King Who is their Father. Did Israel think that God needed all their smoked meat because of His ravenous hunger? Did they believe that God would starve without them? Or that the LORD could not take care of Himself? He calls them to bring offerings because they love Him, not because He needed anything from them. God asks them and us to think about this: The covenant people are the last place He would go to get His needs met if He had needs. He does not have any physical requirements. He is spirit and is to be worshipped in spirit and truth. How could they ever help Him? Every bull and goat they brought belonged to Him in the first place. He asks them for their honour and pure love—true worship. It may be more subtle for us, but I think it is easy to buy into this thinking. It is easy to believe that God needs our offerings, witness or daily work. We think that the Christian school or church building exists because of our planning and giving. It is hard for us to fully worship from the place of grace. We also forget how immense the grace of the LORD is. He helped us by coming down to us in the form of Christ. He provided the sacrifice. What can I give Him? Let us love Him and give Him the respect due His Holy name. Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility before God, a pure sense of His greatness, an understanding of our need of Him and to be able to respond in gracious, thankful living. Ask to properly confess God with our words and lives of worship. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 9 – Enter His gates with thanksgiving

I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. – Psalm 50:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:8-11 Yesterday we considered God. Israel had not. Oh, they were engaged in the activity of worship. It seems that they were pretty busy. The sacrifices were brought to the temple and offered. I think that what happened is that Israel worshipped the LORD in the way that other nations worshipped their idols. See, the idol always needs something. The idol needs to be aroused for it to do something. Every other kind of religion is works-oriented. If we do something, then the gods will do something for us. Israel had applied this kind of thinking to God. It was the worship of manipulation. They wanted good crops or healthy children—the good life and if they kept the rules and offered the animals, they figured God would bless them. That kind of worship belittles God. Everything on the planet already is His. We are His people. Israel had forgotten that God had blessed not because of what they did, but because He is good and gracious. He needed nothing from them or us—but our love and devotion. Today we will worship the LORD. But why are you going to do that? Is it so you can feel better, to be happier? Worship must be a response to grace received and applied. Psalm 100 teaches us that we are His people not because we give something to Him, but because He saved us. That is why we are His! Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving. Suggestions for prayer Ask for inspiration for the church to know God and honor Him in our worship and songs of praise Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 8 – Singing the testimony of God

Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. – Psalm 50:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:7 The Israelites probably understood the language of a covenant court case better than we do. We ought to understand the covenant as the declaration of the King towards His people. If the subjects obeyed, the LORD would give them peace and blessing. Trouble only arises when the covenant people disobey. It seems clear that the LORD, the King of Israel, is not pleased with His people. It is time for them to listen. God says, “Hear O Israel: I am God, your God.” The LORD identifies Himself as their creator and provider. He uses the language of the first five books of the Bible, “I Am the Lord your God.” Israel knows that God became their God not because they chose Him, but because He saved them from Egypt. He gave them the Promised Land. He sent the rain and dew. He fed them from the bounty of the earth. He gave and needed nothing from them. He demands their devotion and their good confession. He is God, their God, and they ought to love Him above everything and or anyone. They best listen to Him. God has become our God in Christ. We must listen to Him, Who so loved us that He gave His Son to die for us. He needs nothing from us. He asks that we love Him. This is our God! How can we not love and honor Him? Let us think about that as we gather together for worship tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a blessing for our preparation for worship and a blessing for those who are preparing to preach the Word. Ask for inspiration for the church to know God and honor Him in our worship and songs of praise. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 26 – Bring down the house

I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said, “Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds shake, and break them on the heads of them all.” – Amos 9:1 Scripture reading: Amos 9:1-7 The house of Israel – filled with false worship and injustice – will be brought down. They will take refuge by the altar, but those idols in which we have sought comfort and meaning will offer no protection from the wrath of God. He is the LORD God of hosts, who created and rules all things (vs.5-6). When God is against you, where will you turn for help? Will Israel turn to her covenant membership? Will she point to God’s covenant at Sinai for protection? Israel has turned away from God and will now reap the covenant curses as a covenant-breaking nation. The covenant of grace is not an automatic guarantee of immunity to judgment. It is a personal relationship with the almighty God that includes promises and demands. Israel has filled up the covenant land with sin. She will receive no special treatment from the impartial Judge (vs.7). The awesome majesty of God cuts two ways: For those who are living apart from Him, trusting in created things, the majesty of God is and will be truly terrifying. But, for those who serve the Lord in reliance on His grace, His majesty is a tremendous comfort. “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.8:38-39). Suggestions for prayer Pray for the fear of God, for the trembling joy that comes from beholding the holiness and love of God. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 25 – Spiritual famine

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” – Amos 8:11 Scripture reading: Amos 8:11-14 What if you went to the grocery store to restock your empty fridge and there was nothing there? It’s hard for us to imagine! Well, far worse than a natural famine is a spiritual famine of hearing the words of the LORD. If an individual or nation responds with indifference and ingratitude to the Word of God, there comes a point when He removes the Word from them. Are you allowing worldly pleasures to choke your love for Jesus? Are you quenching the work of grace in your heart by withdrawing from communion with the Lord? Let this warning from Amos move you in godly fear to repair your walk with God. What a tragic picture this is! The children of God running to and fro, from sea to sea, north to east seeking the word of the Lord but not finding it. But didn’t God promise that those who seek Him will find Him? Yes, and that promise remains true. The problem is that the Israelites will run everywhere trying to find the word of God except in the place where God promised to speak to them: the temple in Jerusalem. It is like Esau who sought the blessing with tears but did not obtain it because he found no place for repentance (Heb.12:17). Today, you can be assured of God’s grace for you by responding in faith and repentance. Go to God. Bring your sin and guilt and faithlessness to the cross of Jesus Christ. If you seek God in Christ, you will find Him. Suggestions for prayer Confess where your heart has grown cold to the things of God. Pray that He would not remove the Word from you or your loved ones. Seek His help in committing yourself to renewed study of His Word. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 24 – The day of the Lord

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “that I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.” – Amos 8:9 Scripture reading: Amos 8:7-10 We might think by this point that Amos is laying the judgment on a little thick! But this is not just an idiosyncrasy of Old Testament prophets. The Lord Jesus talked about hell more than He talked about heaven. Threats and warnings are one way that our faithful God bids us to repent and live. Amos describes the coming judgment on Israel as a day of catastrophe and grief. On that day, the land will tremble (vs.8), the sun will go dark at noon (vs.9), and it will end with mourning as for an only son (vs.10). It is quite probable that these things literally took place in the years leading up to Israel’s destruction in 722 BC. At the same time, the Word of God points us to events beyond 722 BC. The Day of the LORD came upon Israel. And the Day of the LORD will come in final fulfillment upon the whole earth when Jesus comes again. That will be a day of cosmic catastrophe. The heavens and earth will pass away and all men, the living and the dead, will stand before the Lord Jesus. The wicked will be thrown into everlasting fire and the righteous into eternal life. The Day of the LORD was visited upon Jesus at the cross. The earth quaked, the sun went dark, and God turned His face away as the Son of God became a curse for us to redeem us from the curse. Will you be exposed in your pride on the Day, or will you be found sheltered in the safety of the cross? Suggestions for prayer Adore the Lord Jesus for His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Be specific. Ask the Father to shelter you under His wings of refuge. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 23 – The least of these

When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? – Amos 8:5a Scripture reading: Amos 8:4-6; Matthew 25:31-46 Amos presents the charges against Israel for which she will be judged. In so doing, he returns to a familiar theme: abusing the poor and needy in the land (vs.4). Israel’s guilt is aggravated by the fact that their injustice is committed against the backdrop of worshipping the LORD. They observe the Sabbath and other special feast days; the stores are closed on Sundays and the churches are full. But they can’t wait for worship to be over so that they can get to what they really want to be doing: making money (vs.5-6). They were not explicitly thinking to themselves, “How can I lie and cheat and exploit?” Amos speaks with biting satire to get to the root: what they call “just doing business” is, in fact, trampling their brother to serve self. Our regard for our fellow human beings reveals our regard for God. “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Prov.14:31). This is why the apostle John cuts to the chase and says: if you don’t love your brother, you don’t love God. It’s that simple. Jesus teaches us in the parable of the sheep and the goats that He will judge us according to how we ministered to the needy. This is not because our good deeds earn us fellowship with God. It is because those who turn away the “least of these” have never truly had fellowship with God. What will He say to you on that day? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to work the fruit of love in your heart – love for God and for neighbour. If you are withholding mercy from the needy or forgiveness for your brother, confess those sins and ask the Lord Jesus to give you a servant's heart. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....