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Daily devotional

Introduction to August: on feasting and fellowship

I recall the words of one of my professors at seminary about how the Bible speaks so much about food and feasting. I never forgot those words. Serving as missionary-pastor, largely among family-based cultures who have immigrated from the East, the rich “eastern hospitality” brings us to the theme of food and feasting for this month. God’s people have more reason than anyone in the world to feast! Table, food, fellowship and feasting is covenantal. These are practical expressions of covenant, of living in a right relationship with God and of a new life in Christ lived in the power of His Spirit. Our hospitality is an overflow of God’s hospitality toward us. In His hospitality toward us in Christ, God opens His home to us with His Word and His Table. “Singing” is uniquely Christian. But “feasting” is also uniquely Christian. Why is it that the family of Christ, more than any other, has reason to feast and celebrate? Because in Christ, God defeated death, sin and Satan. Feasting follows victory. In Christ, we live among defeated, though real enemies. We live in the sure hope of the full victory to come when Christ returns. Feasting also marks fellowship. God is reconciling a people to Himself, in Christ, and to one another into one body, a people from every nation, tongue, language and people. The Bible begins and ends with a menu. The joyful gospel note is that He prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies. . . “ (Psalm 23:5).

The Bible begins with a menu

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” – Genesis 1:29 Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26- 2:3 God ends the sixth day of creation by setting a table for man. The climax of the six days of creation is God’s gift of food. God creates man and He then offers him food. “See, I have given you…” A table is set for him. He provides the menu: “every herb that yields seed... And every tree whose fruit yields seed…” Creation shows that even an unfallen man was dependent on God for His provision. God is good. He is generous. But above all, in His gift of food, He, the Triune God, desires to share His love and His fellowship with man. He shows us that life and sustenance come from Him alone. God also desires to strengthen us so that we may carry out our callings to rule over the earth and subdue it for His glory. We eat so that we may serve Him for His glory. We are dependent on Him entirely for life and sustenance. This is what God wants us to see when He says, “I have given you…” Our food comes from His hand. “To you it shall be for food”. It’s His gift. God finds pleasure and delight in giving. He says, “See!” Or “Behold!” We find true satisfaction when we hunger for Him, the One Who opens His hand to satisfy our desires. On this Lord’s Day, may our worship inspire us to serve Him this coming week. Our appropriate response, each time again, is to give heartfelt thanks to Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may grow in our dependence upon Him. Pray that we do not give ourselves to worry, but give ourselves to Him by trusting Him to provide for our daily needs. Sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

Daily devotional

July 27 – Sojourners are not surprised by suffering

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. – 1 Peter 4:12 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19 Amid the current struggles, do you ever think, “I thought being a Christian was going to be easier?” Have we been so spoiled by prosperity and comfort that we are caught completely off-guard when difficulties come our way? Peter says we should not be surprised. When we experience suffering as Christians, our inclination may be to lash out in anger, or languish in despair. Perhaps we may become bitter and begin to see the world and its leaders as the enemy. Rather than react, Peter says we should rejoice that we share in Christ’s sufferings. If we are ridiculed for Christ, we are blessed. Not cursed. Blessed. These are fiery trials, but you share in Christ’s suffering. You are not being asked to atone for your sins. Christ bore our sins in His suffering (1 Peter 2:24). He suffered to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). We suffer with Christ because we identify with Him. Therefore, we will be like Him and be willing to suffer for Him. But we are not alone in these trials. He is with us. The trials are sent by the loving Master Refiner Who knows what He is doing. As with Daniel’s three friends, Christ is with you in the furnace of affliction (Daniel 3:25). Be sure not to suffer as an evildoer. Do not be afraid to suffer as a Christian. Jesus has got this. If you suffer for doing the will of God, do not be ashamed, rest confidently in Him, He is your faithful and loving Lord. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the finished work of Jesus. If you are suffering, rejoice in the privilege that you may do so with and for Christ. Ask God to help you not to be so comfortable that you are caught off-guard by suffering. Pray that you may suffer well that God will be seen to be glorious. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 26 – Sojourner hospitality

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 Hospitality ought to set us apart as Christians. It takes work and will put us on the stretch. That is why Peter has to urge that it be done, “without grumbling.” How discouraging it would be to be a guest at someone’s home and get the sense that they really wished they didn’t have to take time for you. They sense that, “I have more important things to do, but since you’re here anyway, here’s a sandwich.” We need to remember, as aliens and strangers, that we are living in exile. We are homeless outsiders who have found our true home in the household of God, and out of gratitude, we want others to know that blessing. The word Peter uses for hospitality here is literally “the love of the stranger.” Do not forget that by nature you too were once a stranger to God’s covenants of promise. That is why it can be said that the pattern of hospitality in our lives expresses the heart of the gospel. Putting ourselves on the stretch in love will mean we seek to find ways to open our homes to one another, but also to those who are still strangers to God’s covenants of promise. We break bread together, open the Word together, pray together and have fun together. We are showing what grace-based, Christ-centered fellowship is. We have received much from God. By the grace of God, when everyone seeks to use what they have been given to minister to others the blessing is rich, and God gets all the glory. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that you have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Pray for a spirit of rich gratitude in order that you may use what you have been given for the love of others, even those who are strangers to God’s covenants of promise. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 25 – Sojourners’ love covers a multitude of sins

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 For the Christian, love must take priority. As he continues to encourage sojourners in their care for one another, Peter writes, “Above all things, have fervent love for one another.” When he speaks about fervency here, he is speaking about its intensity in action. Think of a horse stretching towards the finish line. What is envisioned is, love that puts us on the stretch for one another, a willingness to put ourselves out for one another. Think of the lengths to which Jesus has put Himself on the stretch when He gave Himself for us on the cross. One of the most challenging ways we are put on the stretch is in the demand that our love should cover a multitude of sins. Peter is not talking about a cover-up as such that sins are never dealt with. It is something far more glorious. Its roots are in the blessing that by God’s grace, through repentance and faith, our sins have been atoned for (covered) by the precious blood of Jesus. When we know the blessing of Jesus’ covering, then out of love, we also want others to know it. Sometimes that will put us on the stretch because some sins against us hurt very, very much. We must remind ourselves of the blessing of our own covering. A body of fervent loving sojourners is not a place for fault-finding, where people delight in uncovering pesky details of each other’s struggle with sin. Fervent love means our greatest joy is to see sin covered by the blood of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the blessing and privilege of worship where you could be assured again of the blessing of sins covered. Pray that you may be put on the stretch in loving action toward others. Pray for God’s grace to be a cover-er of sins, pointing to Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 24 – Sojourners are serious about prayer

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. – 1 Peter 4:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 Are you serious about prayer? Many of us struggle with the reality that our prayer life is not what it ought to be. The concern is not that we should be more eloquent, or more disciplined and have a routine. We want to be serious and watchful! Peter must have been reflecting on his own failings at prayer. Jesus agonized in prayer, then three times found his three closest disciples sleeping. How could he forget Jesus’ disappointment, “Simon (Peter) are you sleeping?” (Mark 14:37). Jesus was so agonized in prayer that He sweated drops of blood. Peter, James, and John could not even take it seriously enough to stay awake. Thanks be to God; Jesus has gone to the cross! Now we can come boldly to the throne of grace. We have a new eagerness and urgency. The end of all things is at hand! All God’s glorious purposes are coming to wonderful fulfillment! We are living in days that require serious attention to prayer. Being serious and watchful in our prayers means we are wide awake to the needs in our day. We know we do not have the strength to be the people God calls us to be apart from His blessing. Like Jacob, we need to wrestle with God to hold Him to account for all that He has promised. We need to be alert and awake to the challenges of our day, to be serious about the needs of God’s people and have a passion for God’s glory – the end of all things! Suggestions for prayer What are the things you are watchful about, and what are the things you need to be more watchful about? Pray about them. Ask God to give you a spirit of prayer and supplication as you rejoice to know the end of all things is at hand. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 19 – Sojourner men understand their wives

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-7 Men sometimes joke about the fact that they cannot understand the ways of the woman God gave them. According to God’s challenge in this verse, however, that is unacceptable. We are literally called to know our wives well. That means a depth of love and intimacy. It means a husband should take the time to know his wife’s thoughts, concerns, fears, what she loves and what she delights in. He should know her vulnerabilities and weaknesses, her hopes and dreams, and her day-to-day frustrations, the challenges of the world, and the promises of God’s Word. He should spend much time with her talking about these things, reflecting and praying together. He will also honour her as the “weaker vessel.” This is not a put-down. It does not mean she is less than him. Think about a precious vase, beautiful, delicate and significant. This preciousness of his wife must never be abused or taken advantage of. Rather, he honours her for it. He knows she is precious in God’s sight. He knows she is precious to him. He needs her. No Christian husband and wife would ever presume they could know any of this blessing without a life of fervent prayer. The challenge is that as we often fail in our relationships, our prayers can be hindered. We feel guilty and lose the passion for prayer. Please don’t get stuck there. Confess your sins to one another and to God. You will receive mercy and your prayers will be helped. We are heirs together of the grace of life! Suggestions for prayer Is there anything in your relationships that hinders your prayers? Talk about it and pray about it. Confess your failings and draw near to God. If you are married, do it together. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 18 – Sojourner wives are precious to God

...rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. – 1 Peter 3:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-6 The traditional, Biblical understanding of marriage between one man and one woman is considered odd today. But by God’s grace, a joyful obedient understanding of Christian marriage remains a significant part of our witness to the world. When it comes to sojourner wives, Peter speaks encouragingly here of submission. It is a concept that has fallen out of favor today, but Peter speaks of it as a glorious opportunity for Christian women to be Christ-like. It is also something they are enabled to do, in Christ. There is no hint at all that women are inferior to men. Men and women have both been created in God’s image. Also, in our redemption in Christ, we are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Peter is not condoning any sort of harshness or abuse. Neither is he recommending marriage of Christians to unbelievers; God clearly forbids that. Peter addresses a situation where marriage has already taken place, then perhaps only the wife was converted after the marriage. God can use her quiet confidence in Him and gracious, respectful conduct toward her husband for his conversion! In the gospel, her joyful reverence for God takes away any sense of inferiority. She fears God, not her husband. She is concerned for God’s honor, not about what people think. Though God is not opposed to physical beauty, she does not make that her focus. She would rather turn hearts to Jesus than turn heads toward herself. By God’s grace in Christ, she knows she is precious in God’s sight. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on the gospel preached throughout the world today. Pray for our marriages. Pray that because of the gospel, our marriages may give clear testimony to the world of how precious we are in the sight of God, by His grace. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 17 – Sojourners follow in Jesus’ steps

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25 Have you seen a little child trying to follow a parent at the beach, wanting to place his feet in each of the footprints? Sometimes it can be quite a stretch! That is a picture of what Peter says is the calling of sojourners: to trace the steps of Jesus Himself. Talk about big shoes to fill! Jesus is, of course, more than our example, He is our Saviour! Praise the Lord! But in accomplishing our salvation, He has also left us an example. And, because of His suffering, it is an example we can actually follow. By His death and resurrection, Jesus enables us to die to sin and to live for righteousness. He enables us to stretch and to commit ourselves to the service of God. So, even when others may make fun of us for living the Christian life, like Jesus, when we are reviled, we will not revile in return. We were weak and straying sheep, but by God’s grace we have returned to Jesus. If anyone knew how huge a blessing it was to be returning to Jesus, surely it was Peter (Luke 22:32). We too may live in the bold confidence that this loving Saviour has become the tender shepherd of our souls. Nothing will snatch us from His hands. He goes before us and with us as He leads the way. It makes you want to be like Him in the way you face challenges. It makes you want to stretch and take big steps for Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for what He did for you on the cross. Thank Him for being with you and leading you in paths of righteousness. Ask Him to help you take big steps forward as you seek to follow in His steps. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 16 – Sojourners endure hard things

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully… But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. – 1 Peter 2:19, 20b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:18-21 Many whom Peter addressed were slaves. Without approving slavery as a way of life, Peter seeks to equip his readers to live as Christians where they are. Most of us can relate to the challenge of having to experience hard things – in life generally, or specifically in our work. It is not that we should never work for change, but how do we respond with endurance when hard things happen? The sojourner should never take the approach – “I give as good as I get.” The sojourner is mindful of God. He learns to ask: Where is God in this? What does God say? How will God help? It would be understandable if you were having a hard time at work because you were lazy, or mouthy, always late for work, or known for doing shoddy work. See to it that doesn’t happen. Since you know God and His grace, when you mess up, own up to your failings. But how can you persist in doing good when you are doing your best and still receiving a hard time? Prayerfully seek to live conscious of the presence of God. Think about Jesus, what He endured for you on the cross. Remind yourself that He has redeemed you, you are His! As you respond, ask God to help you follow in Jesus’ steps. Do it for the Lord. Trust that He will help you through this. God sees and cares. He will teach you about your need for Jesus and His grace, and He will help you. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you endure hardship, to carry out your work, and to live your whole life mindful of Him. Thank God for what Jesus has done for you on the cross. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 11 – Sojourners come to Jesus

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious. – 1 Peter 2:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-8 As sojourners, we understand we are nothing apart from Jesus Christ. We need Him; we come to Him for life and hope. We want to walk with Him because to know Him is more precious than anything else in the world. Rejoice in Him as you go to Him in worship, today. We have learned that in coming to Christ, we find rest for our sin-burdened souls (Matthew 11:28), we find sustenance for our hungry and thirsty souls (John 6:35) and we can live in the hope-filled confidence that we will be raised up with Jesus on the last day (John 6:44). Have you come to Christ? Have you found the forgiveness, life and hope you need, in Him? Be encouraged; Jesus has promised that all who come to Him, He shall by no means cast out (John 6:37). He who has the Son, has life, he who does not have the Son, does not have life (1 John 5:12). Coming to Christ is more than a one-time event; it is an ongoing privilege and need. We get to keep coming to Christ. What do you do in your ongoing struggle with sin? You come to Christ! In the difficulties and perplexities of life? You come to Christ! When you are painfully aware that you are too weak to stand up and take on the challenges of the life of a sojourner? You keep coming to Christ! You will find in Him a resting place and He will make you glad! Suggestions for prayer Come to the Father through the Son in your prayers and in worship today. Go to Jesus with your sin and struggles and with your desire to serve Him. As you keep coming to Him, ask that you may know Him to be more and more precious. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 10 – Sojourners desire the pure milk of the Word

...as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. – 1 Peter 2:2 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-3 We have seen how the beginning of our spiritual lives comes by the Word, through the gospel preached to us. If we want to grow in that life, that is also something God works by His living and abiding Word. Have you ever seen a baby who is desperately hungry for its mother’s milk? Babies can get very passionate about this desire! And that is the picture Peter gives here of our need as sojourners. Amid the battles and challenges of life, where sometimes the biggest enemy is our own sinful flesh, sojourners hunger with the passion of newborn babies for the pure milk of the Word. Do not be like some people who misapply Peter’s emphasis. The point here is not that there is something praiseworthy about remaining immature as a Christian, only wanting milk and not solid food. That’s embarrassing! (Compare to Hebrews 5:12). We are not being encouraged here to remain as weak and helpless babies in our Christian walk. Sojourners want to grow! And sojourners want to get rid of sin in their lives: all hatred, lies, superficiality, and sinful talk. If we know ourselves well, we will know these are demanding tasks that work up an appetite. So, we hungrily crave more and more of God’s Word. And, in the Word, as our hungry souls are refreshed in looking to Jesus, we taste again and again that the Lord is gracious. It tastes like more! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a passionate hunger and thirst for His Word and for the grace we taste, in Jesus. Pray for the passion of a newborn babe, as well as the growing maturity of one who cannot get over the blessing of God’s grace in Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 9 – Sojourners are born of the Word

...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. – 1 Peter 1:23 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:22-25 Peter continues to unpack for us, sojourners, some details of what the call to holiness entails. Sojourners obey the truth. By the work of God’s gracious Spirit, we take hold of the truth and want to live according to it. Peter says this comes to expression in our loving one another fervently with a pure heart. The reason we want to do this and the reason we can, is because we have been born again. That means the seed of life that has been implanted by God’s Spirit through the gospel is incorruptible, or imperishable. It cannot and will not die. We’ve probably all planted seeds and been disappointed when they proved useless, dead, or rotten and never germinated. Not so with the life God gives through the gospel. We didn’t give life to ourselves when we were born the first time. We don’t give life to ourselves when we are born the second time, either. It is life that comes from above and it will never die. The seed God brings to life in you has been planted and is being watered by the living Word. He has done that through the preaching of the gospel. If you have taken hold of the gospel, believed the good news, obeyed the truth through the Spirit and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul, you can be encouraged in your call to holiness and love. God has given you life. You have the life that you need. By God’s grace, you have what it takes. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the new life He gives through the gospel. Thank God for the gospel that is preached to you. Pray that those who do not have this life may also know this blessing. Pray that it will show in fervent love for others. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Sojourners know Jesus’ blood is precious

… with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. – 1 Peter 1:18,19 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21 Peter urges that throughout the time of our sojourn on earth, we should live in fear. That must not be misunderstood. He is not suggesting we need to live in dread, terror of God, or in a panic about what’s going to happen next. He has assured us that, as sojourners, we can live in joyful hope! The fear of God he is talking about is better understood as a reverent sense of awe. Too often, we forget. The awe is lacking and it shows in aimless living. So, how can we maintain reverent awe? Peter says it comes from a continual sense of grateful amazement about what our Saviour has done for us in shedding His precious blood. Say you receive two chocolate cakes. One, casually picked up at the store, no big deal; the other, equally as delicious, from your young child who put everything into making it. Which is more precious? Our salvation cost Jesus everything. He gave His lifeblood. As a lamb without blemish or spot, He was perfectly suited to be the Saviour of sinners! This was not something we could ever have earned, or bought, even with all the gold or silver in the world; it was obtained for us at the infinite cost of the blood of the Son of God. He loved you and gave Himself up for you! Never get over this! Always remember and be amazed! By His precious blood, He has saved us from sin’s guilt and power. Sojourners who are amazed by His grace will never be aimless. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus! Ask Him to help you to know this blessing with a sense of awe, always. Thank God for redeeming you from aimlessness and ask Him to help you live for Him with purpose and reverent awe. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 3 – The sojourners’ imperishable inheritance

...to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. – 1 Peter 1:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:3-7 One of the great joys of a sojourner is knowing we are “going somewhere.” Despite times of spinning our wheels, we know we have a glorious future to look forward to. It gives meaning and purpose. We’ve all broken things, made things dirty, and have watched things we love dearly, rust away into uselessness. Our inheritance, our hope of blessed and eternal fellowship with God, is not like that. It will never perish or fade away. We cannot break it or defile it. Maybe amid the struggles you face in this world, you live in fear that you have defiled or broken your inheritance by your sins, like when you were a child you sometimes forfeited your allowance by your misdeeds. Can our living hope just fade away? Could you one day arrive in God’s presence only to be told, “I am sorry, I do not see a reservation?” By God’s grace, through faith, you may be encouraged to know your inheritance will not fade away. Sojourners who acknowledge their sin and turn to God, can be assured of two things. First, God keeps your inheritance, your place is reserved. Second, God keeps you and prepares you for your inheritance. An inheritance is something graciously given, not earned. Again, it’s all grace. God is eager and ready to reveal this blessing in the days to come. He makes you eager and ready to receive it and enjoy it. Having that hope makes us eager and ready to live for Him today! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for preserving your inheritance for you and for preserving you for your inheritance. Confess ways we might tend to defile this blessing. Ask Him to make you eager and ready to live for Him today in the hope of your certain future. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 2 – The sojourners’ living hope

has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-4 When people say, “I hope so,” they are typically speaking of a faint hope, or something not certain at all. But Christian hope, the hope of sojourners, is not like that. Though we do not yet see and touch everything we hope for in Christ, we have the blessing as a sure and certain hope. It is a living hope. We can think of situations where people’s hopes have died. Dead hope is not hope. It is terribly sad. A lot of people are going nowhere. And we need to pray that we may be deeply sympathetic to the hopelessness that surrounds us. As sojourners, we have been given a living hope. It is a vibrant, thriving, lasting and certain hope. It is living because it comes from the living, thriving, loving, Blessed Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is so happy to be God, so thrilled to give life. He delights to pour out His abundant mercy. He gives life to our dead souls! We who were dead in sins and trespasses, without hope and without God in the world, have been born again and given new life and a living hope. This blessing is sure and lasting because it is ours through the life of our resurrected Saviour, Jesus. It is because He lives that we come to share in the blessing and certainty of His life. Remember, that in a world of darkness and hopelessness, we have been given a living hope. It is ours to enjoy and to share! Suggestions for prayer Is your hope alive? Ask God to give you great joy in the hope we have in Christ and to make us beacons of hope amidst the darkness. Pray earnestly for someone you know who is struggling with hopelessness, that you may encourage them in living hope. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to July – Hope for sojourners in exile

When you think about your life in this world, do you ever feel like a fish out of water, or that you stand out like a sore thumb? Are you ever surprised by the fiery trials the Lord chooses to bring your way? Do you get overwhelmed with how it seems that more and more the world looks at us and thinks we Christians are strange? Are you ever shocked by how the world wonders why we just cannot go along with the flood of sinful changes that are drowning our culture today? Do you feel as though we are entering into a new era of exile? But do you desire with all your heart to stand up and stand out by being ready to speak to all about the hope we have been given? Take heart, pilgrim, we have been given a message of hope! We find it wonderfully summarized for us in the inspired words of 1 Peter. Peter, a man who knew all about failure and opposition, was once blundering and proud, but as an eyewitness of Christ’s majesty, a recipient of His restorative grace, also became someone who knew a thing or two about God’s grace and hope. Peter writes to pilgrims, aliens, exiles and strangers who are dispersed throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). They are sojourners who can live by grace with strong hope because as sojourners they can live with the assurance that they are on their way to an incorruptible inheritance with Jesus that is reserved in heaven for them and does not fade away. The relevance for us today, as sojourners living in exile in a post-Christian culture, should be obvious. We are given a message of hope – a living, lasting and secure hope. Let us dig into this hope together and pray that we may be encouraged, as well as equipped to share it with others!  Grace for sojourners Grace to you and peace be multiplied. – 1 Peter 1:2c Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-2 The life of a Christian, a pilgrim, a sojourner is not always easy. There are trials, opposition and the challenge of being perceived as different. Peter begins his letter to sojourners with grace. Grace to you and peace! Peter had come to know through hard and blessed experience that his salvation and place as the Lord’s servant was all because of grace. He was amazed by grace and could not stop talking about it. Peter’s tone will be a tone of grace. We come to know ourselves as God’s sojourners – by grace! The loving and gracious plan of the Father, the powerfully gracious work of the Spirit to make this blessing real in our lives, and the obedience and sprinkling of Jesus to give us peace with God – is all undeserved grace. We rest in the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus once and for all – that too is grace. And, as we continue to struggle against sin, we continue to take refuge in the blood, passion and death of our Saviour. That is enduring grace! In Christ, we are chosen by God and precious. We have also been chosen for such a time as this and for these struggles. As elect pilgrims, we have been chosen to be sojourners. That too is grace. Living in exile will not always be easy, but God’s grace is more than enough. The grace God gives us and the peace we enjoy, as a result, is a blessing that is multiplied. God is not cheap with His grace. His grace abounds. Blessed be God! Suggestions for prayer Reflect on the wonder of God’s grace in your life. Count the ways you experience God’s grace and ask Him to help you talk to others about it with a tone of grace. Pray that you will always begin with and return to a deep appreciation of grace. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 30 – Remember your vows

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5 And now, having just stated the “more” to marriage, that God instituted marriage to mirror the covenantal relationship between Christ and His Church to the praise and glory of God; Paul now offers a final concluding summary. Husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands. Husbands remember your vows: “I, ___________, take you, __________, to be my wife. I promise before God, and all who are present here, to be your loving and faithful husband. I will love you and give myself up for you, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in riches and in poverty, in sickness and in health. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you, and never forsake you as long as we both shall live.” Wives remember your vows: “I, ____________, take you, __________, to be my husband. I promise before God, and all who are present here, to be your loving and faithful wife. I will love you and submit to you, as the church loves and submits to Christ. I promise to be true to you ... and never forsake you, as long as we both shall live.” May we all, as believers, submit to one another out of love for Christ, as imitators of God! Suggestions for prayer May God of His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit help us as husbands and wives to fulfill our marriage vows as imitators of God to the praise and glory of His name. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 25 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (1)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. – Ephesians 5:25 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:14-21; 5:22-33 How much does Christ love His Bride, the Church? He laid down His life for her. Jesus’ love for His Bride is a sacrificial love! Jesus’ love for His Bride is selfless and one of self-denial. He loves her despite all her glaring defects, all her failures and shortcomings and all her sins that make her so ugly, so unattractive. Yet, He loves her. He loves her sacrificially, even to the point of death on the cross. And now, Christ’s sacrificial love serves as the model, the standard established by God in His Word by which husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves His Bride, the Church! What does this mean in a practical way? One author notes, “If a loving husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife, he is certainly willing to make lesser sacrifices for her. He puts his own likes, desires, opinions, preferences, and welfare aside if that is required to please her and meet her needs. He dies to self in order to live for his wife, because that is what Christ’s kind of love demands.” A marriage where the husband loves his wife sacrificially, as Christ loves the Church, is a marriage that will be truly blessed by the Lord to the praise and glory of His name. Suggestions for prayer May God of His grace and Spirit fill our hearts and lives with a love for our wives as Christ loves His Bride, the Church. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 24 – The duty of the Christian husband

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also the loved the church and gave Himself for her. – Ephesians 5:25 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:22-33 Not only has God ordained the husband to be head over the wife, and the wife to submit to her husband, but God now commands, “Husbands, love your wives.”  Notice how the respective commands given to husbands and wives are vastly different. Wives are commanded by God to submit and respect their husbands (vv.22,33). Men on the other hand are commanded by God to love their wives. In a culture where to love often means little more than romance and sex, or is reduced to mere sentimental or pleasant feelings, the Bible’s definition of love shows love’s true God-like quality and permanence. Love as defined in Scripture reveals a most significant character of God Himself “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” What is love? Well, the Bible’s definition of love is expressed simplest and best in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 where we read, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”  Husbands, let us heed God’s command, “Husbands, love your wives” so that not only will our marriages be blessed, but let us do so to the praise and glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Help husbands to love their wives not as the world defines love, but as defined here in the Word of God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 23 – The model of the Christian wife’s submission

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:24 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:9-18 As much as a husband’s leadership should be characterized by Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church, a wife’s submission is to be modeled after the Church’s submission to Christ, Who is the Head of the Church. Christ through His Word and Spirit, lovingly leads and directs the Church, His bride. In her humble and quiet submission, she is a beautiful testimony of a godly and virtuous woman. She is a wonderful testimony to her children, her church, and the community of the marriage of Christ and His Church. She brings honor to her husband, to her family, to her church, and most importantly, she brings honor and glory to her Lord! And when the Church refuses to submit to her Head there is no blessing. In the same way, when wives refuse to submit to their husbands the resistance will wreak havoc in the marriage. The marriage becomes dysfunctional. It is not blessed. Where there is a power struggle there will be no peace, no unity, no harmony, and no blessing of the Lord. In the end, everyone loses, the husband, the wife, the children, the church and society. As one author noted, “And the love that binds this man and woman in marriage is a magnificent love because it portrays something magnificent - `as Christ loved the church’ and `as the church submits to Christ.” Suggestions for prayer May our wives walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing unto Him. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 22 – The manner of the Christian wife’s submission

Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-6 A wife’s submission to her husband is not conditional upon whether her husband is a nice guy, or that he loves her sacrificially and as lovingly as Christ loves the church. No, her submission is first and foremost “as to the Lord.”  She submits in all things lawful because she wants to be obedient to God’s Word in her role as a wife. In her submission to the Lord, she honors the Lord in her marriage and for His glory. But then, how is submission possible under adverse conditions, with a difficult or unloving husband?  HOW? – Well, the key to her submission is “AS TO THE LORD!”  It is in humble submission “AS TO THE LORD” that she, as much as depends on her, maintains peace within the home. A godly woman will accomplish much more by her loving submission and service to her husband than by her constant complaining, nagging or fighting. A godly wife who submits to her husband does so first and foremost in submission to the Lord. In so doing, she and her household are blessed and God is glorified! Suggestions for prayer That the manner of a wife’s submission may always be as to the Lord; and that in so doing she brings honor and glory to God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 17 – A Spirit-filled life sings

...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord... – Ephesians 5:19 Scripture reading: Psalm 150 How can we know if the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our lives? Ephesians 5:19 answers this by declaring that evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, is the joy of the Lord which we possess in our hearts and which comes to expression in our worship of God. As Christians, we have every reason to worship and to sing praises to our God. We sing of His wonderful work of creation, His sovereignty and His providence. We sing of His wonderful work of salvation through the life and death of His Son. We sing of the victory over the powers of sin and evil by His resurrection. We sing of the future glory that awaits us when we will join with the heavenly choir of angels and saints, praising and glorifying God together in heaven. The music and songs of the church are not about what we like or our personal preferences, but are about what pleases the Lord. The aim of our singing and worship must always be the glory of our God. Music and songs that honour the Lord will also be a blessing to His people. We do well to remember too, that our joy in the Lord and our Spirit-filled response of singing unto the Lord is not determined by our circumstances in life. Paul and Silas sang to the Lord as they were sitting in prison. A Spirit-filled heart rejoices in the LORD always and SINGS. Suggestions for prayer May it be the desire of our Spirit-filled hearts to worship our God by singing together to His praise and glory. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 16 – Be fill with the Spirit, not wine

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit... – Ephesians 5:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:29-35 The Bible does not condemn the occasional drink in moderation. Rather, what is condemned is excessive drinking to the point of drunkenness. Why do people overindulge? Some get drunk to fit in with those of the world, but in doing so they alienate themselves from God. Some get drunk thinking it will make them happy when it only brings an artificial happiness. Some get drunk to escape reality and the problems of life when in fact, it provides only a temporary escape. Some get drunk in an attempt to drown the sorrows or sins of the past only to compound their sin and misery. Every picture of drunkenness in the Bible is a picture of sin and misery. Sadly, alcohol addiction is a real and increasing problem in our Christian churches and families. Rather than getting drunk or resorting to some other kind of addictive habit such as drugs, self-harm, pornography, sex, etc... God’s Word commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As one author noted, “Be filled is passive, not active”. It is not something we can do. God must do it. But we are responsible to seek that state of fullness.”  People who become drunk are ruled by the bottle unto ruin. People filled with the Spirit are ruled by the Spirit unto a life of blessedness to the praise and glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those with addictive, destructive habits. Pray to be filled more and more by the Spirit to live a Spirit-filled, God-honoring and glorifying life in dependence upon the Spirit. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 15 – Walk in wisdom

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:15-21; Psalm 1 Commanded to be imitators of God, we are now being commanded to watch how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise. As the elect of God, redeemed in Christ, born again of the Spirit, every step must be consistent with who we are as dear children of our heavenly Father. We do not walk in the ways and wisdom of the world. We do not subscribe to the false ideologies of ungodly men. Rather, as Christians, every step in life is made in submission to the Word and will of God. Every step is made with the intention to fulfill our created purpose, namely to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Yes indeed, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Psalm 1 calls such a man who walks in the wisdom of the LORD “blessed.” But notice the urgency, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Redeem the time means to buy back the opportunity to love and serve Christ and His Church. We are to do it now because the number of our days here on earth are short and the days are evil. Given the times in which we now live, let us pursue wisdom, God’s wisdom, that we may reflect the wisdom of God in our daily walk as His dear children, as living witnesses for Christ until He comes again. Suggestions for prayer May God by His Spirit lead us and guide us in our daily walk with Him. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 14 – The challenge to children of light

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. – Ephesians 5:11 Scripture reading: 1 John 1:5-10 God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Therefore, as beloved children of God, we are now commanded not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Paul has already mentioned some of these deeds of darkness earlier in chapters 4 and 5. Therefore, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Light and darkness are incompatible. How can we bear witness for the God of light when we ourselves walk in darkness or engage in the deeds of darkness or even associate with them? Such hypocrisy ruins not only the reputation of those claiming to be Christians, but gives occasion for unbelievers to blaspheme the God of light and brings shame upon the name of Christ and His Church. Notice, the command in verse 11 has a second part “but rather expose them.”  The deeds of darkness must be exposed. We are not to be silent bystanders. Why? As it says in verse 14, that those asleep in the deeds of darkness must be called to repent of their evil ways that they may turn and live. It is our hope and prayer that sinners engaged in the unfruitful deeds of darkness may come to know the saving grace of God through Christ Jesus; that they too may be light-bearers of the God of light to the praise and glory of His Name. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may more and more put to death the deeds of darkness and walk in the light as imitators of the God of light. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 9 – Conduct not fitting for the Christian

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving thanks. – Ephesians 5:3-4 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 To be imitators of God’s love is no doubt a great challenge; a challenge because our old sinful nature is not always so loving; a challenge because the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And yet, when we are born again by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit, this ungodly conduct is not only inappropriate, but should not even be named among Christians. These vices are unbecoming of those called to be saints, those separated unto God as His dear children for whom Christ died. Rather than engaging in these vices of the flesh, we should be actively engaged in giving thanks to God. We ought to give thanks to God for His gift of love in sending us His Son, Who has fully paid for all our sins with His precious blood, and has set us free from the tyranny of the devil. Because we belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit assures us of eternal life and makes us whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him. When our hearts and minds are filled with an appreciation of all the blessings which we, in Christ possess, our lips respond with praise and thanksgiving. Paul not only lists the vices that are not fitting for Christians, but he responds with the one virtue that sums up the Christian’s life. Thanks be to God! Suggestions for prayer Let us pray that we may put off the works of the flesh and walk by the Spirit. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 8 – Walk in love as Christ also loved us

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5:2 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 How much does Jesus love us? He humbled Himself leaving the place of glory in heaven, not only to dwell among sinners, but He took upon Himself our human nature, sin excepted. He was despised and rejected by men, beaten, scourged, spat upon, crucified, endured the wrath of God, died and was buried all for the sake of our salvation. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He offered up the supreme, the all-sufficient sacrifice pleasing unto the LORD. How can we even begin to grasp the magnitude of the love of Christ toward us sinners? We simply can’t. And now, to us, as dear children of the Father, in Christ, as those redeemed by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, the command is given, “Be imitators of God.” Love as the Father loves - sending His Son. Love as the Son loves – sacrificially, by laying down His own life to give us life, abundant life, now and in eternity. See in the love of the Son, the love of God the Father for us. Wow! What a standard! May others see God’s love through our love, a sacrificial love, following the supreme example of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Help us to love others as God, in Christ, loves us. Help us to see that lovelessness is a sin from which we must repent. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 7 – Walk in love

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5:2 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-21 Here, in verse 2, we are commanded by God to walk in love. Do this! Walk in love! Be imitators of God by your walk in love. What does the love of God look like? We are told in 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. And this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  And now, having defined love, we are given the command in verse 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  We are not to love as the world loves, but rather, we are to love as God has manifested His love toward us undeserving sinners. His love is one of self-sacrifice and self-denial. But notice as well, the command in verse 21, “And this commandment we have from Him: that He who loves God must love his brother also.” Here again, we are to walk in love!  How can we readily identify the children of God? By their God-like love toward others! Suggestion for prayer Pray for the Holy Spirit to create in us a pure heart, a heart that truly loves God and expresses this God-like love toward our neighbor. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 6 – To be imitators of God presupposes we know God

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Romans 10:14-21 To be imitators of God, as dear children, presupposes that we know God. We cannot become more God-like apart from gaining a deeper and richer appreciation of the person and work of our God. We cannot imitate someone we don’t know. We come to know God through our family devotions and through our personal reading and studying of God’s Word. But are we growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord our God?  Are we making the time in the busyness of life to better know our God? OR, are we perhaps too busy, like Martha, tending to the daily necessities of life that we supposedly have no time to be more like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen and learn from His Word? Today is the Lord’s Day. Today we gather together as God’s covenant people to worship our God. A central part of our worship is to sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word. The Word preached directs us to God’s wonderful work of redemption in Christ Jesus our Saviour. The Word, through the work of the Spirit, informs us and transforms us to be imitators of God. As one author put it, “We pray that God will also use our preaching to produce such a knowledge of God’s will that others will live to please him and will produce spiritual fruit, resulting in an ever-growing knowledge of their God.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will continue to call and equip men to faithfully proclaim the Word of God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of June

Looking back over 27 years of ministry, I’ve come to realize one of the great challenges as Christians is to be consistent in our daily walk with the Lord. Chosen by the Father, redeemed in Christ, born again and sanctified by the Holy Spirit – all by grace, how must we now live Corum Deo, before the face of God? How are our lives as Christians to be uniquely different from those of the world? How? Ephesians 5 provides the answer. We are to be imitators of God. We are to walk in love. We are to walk in light. We are to walk in wisdom. What does that look like? Well, let’s walk through these passages together in the coming month. It is also my goal to write these devotionals simple enough for children and young people to engage in further discussion together during family devotions. Be imitators of God Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:1-7 God, through the apostle Paul, issues a command, “Therefore be imitators of God…”  Notice, God is not merely making a helpful suggestion or offering believers some good advice for our careful and prayerful consideration. No, this is a command. Do this! The word translated here as “imitator” is from the Greek word meaning “to mimic” or “to copy”. God is actually commanding us to mimic or copy Him. We are to be just like Him. The command to be God-like takes us back to the dawn of creation.“Then God said. “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God is the eternal Creator and we are but mere creatures, and yet, God created us in His image and likeness to be just like Him. To be made in God’s image means that, as prophets, we can know God and tell others the truth about God and everything He has made and done. As priests, we can offer ourselves to God in our service of love and obedience to Him. As kings, we can fight against sin and evil and rule with God over the works of His creation. The creation of man in God’s image at the dawn of creation indicates that we were created by God to be imitators of God to His praise, glory and honor. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you more and more to be the image-bearer of God that He created you to be. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 31 – Our beautiful King and Saviour

He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:15-16 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-3, 36-37; 1 Timothy 6:13-16 We have spent a month bumping up against the worst impulses of a human king like Nebuchadnezzar. We have seen what arrogance and pride does to a man and his kingdom. The ugliness of sin has been on full display. The stubbornness of his heart’s corruption has shocked us. In the midst of this, God’s faithful servants have stood firm in the Word of God and trusted in His promises. How? By trusting in the LORD and believing in the Anointed One Who delivers our bodies from the grave and our hearts from the condemnation of sin! Cherish this truth, dear readers, that you are graciously called to love a wondrously different King! You are promised blessing from the King of Kings! He is the unwavering and unflinching Shepherd Who acts out of His perfection and the fullness of His mercy towards you. “Take heart,” He reminds us, “for I have overcome the world!” It does not matter what the plots of our adversaries are when we have the Lord of Hosts on our side! Our brother in Christ, the Apostle Peter, encourages us that “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” So, together let us worship Him as we joyfully sing, Beautiful Saviour, Lord of the Nations, Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honour, praise, adoration Now and for evermore be thine! Suggestions for prayer Saviour, like a Shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 30 – Worthy

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. – Revelation 4:11 Scripture readings: Revelation 4:8-11; Daniel 4:34-37 The change of Nebuchadnezzar’s heart yielded an uncompromising proclamation of the dominion of the Most High. He broke out of his madness when he blessed the Lord and praised Him. What a moment! In the words of the king which Daniel likely composed for distribution to the peoples in his kingdom, the king made known that, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” He utters true words that we, by faith, are moved to assent to and share with him. The question of the truth of his heart is a subject of considerable dispute because tragically there did not appear to be any further fruits of repentance in Nebuchadnezzar. He drops out of the story at the end of chapter four and we don’t have any further record of him. But we can ask this question of ourselves: do we live with faith in the face of God’s coming judgment of the mighty and the lowly? The LORD has decreed that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. In Luke 18, Jesus Christ asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Be sure that you are trusting in Jesus, the Lamb of God who has been provided for you and enables you to live with confidence as you await the coming judgment Day! Suggestions for prayer Help us Lord to walk in true repentance and obedience! Deliver us from temptation. Make our hearts abound in thanksgiving for Your mercies and love! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 29 – Come see what I have done

Seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. – Daniel 4:32 Scripture readings: Psalm 66; Daniel 4:28-33 The words of Psalm 66 are a great instruction in the fear of God as the Psalmist teaches us, “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man... He rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations-- let not the rebellious exalt themselves.” In the utterances of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, we find him speaking in counterfeit claims about his importance and place in the world. He declares that he is responsible for the great things around him. He composes a counterfeit psalm to exalt himself. It didn’t go well. As the LORD had warned through His servant Daniel, the king was abruptly cast down and turned into a bestial madman for the span of seven periods of time. However, the truth of God’s message is underscored further in the fact that the king’s position isn’t usurped by one of his rivals during his madness, but instead, by the Will of God, the king returns to his throne after his madness. That in itself is sufficient proof that the Lord directed this whole affair to make plain His truth. Therefore, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:17-19). Suggestions for prayer We praise you our Holy Father for graciously providing us with a Mediator Who was judged in our place. Graciously open the hearts of our loved ones so that they may know that you are LORD and that You will save all who call out to You in faith. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 24 – Blessed be the God of Israel!

Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Scripture readings: Daniel 3:26-30; Psalm 107:1-9 Writing about the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar, Calvin wrote, “We must bear defamatory statements about us, for the time patiently, until the LORD shall shine upon us as the asserter of our innocence.” We don’t always know if we will be vindicated when we are confronted for the truth we proclaim concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the exclusive call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. The three men did not know if they would emerge from the fires or if they would succumb to their injuries. Nonetheless, they knew that the LORD would assert their innocence. In this instance, the LORD displayed their righteousness in a dramatic fashion and Nebuchadnezzar was astounded by the scene before his eyes. Despite the ferocity of his furnace, they weren’t harmed in any way! When Nebuchadnezzar addressed the gathered crowd, he came close to confessing the name of God, but the tragedy in this scene is that his proclamation was still an external acknowledgment and not an internal surrender to the LORD, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Under his banner, a proclamation went out that proclaimed the greatness of Yahweh, but it did not result in personal faith. Which brings us to this sobering reminder: it is not enough to know true things about God. We must trust in the LORD with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding or our strength or our own pride. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 23 – The fiery furnace and the fiery Presence

It shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Acts 2:21 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:18-25; Acts 2:1-21 Today is Pentecost and we marvel at the contrast between the fiery furnace that was kindled by Nebuchadnezzar in order to kill and the fiery presence kindled by the Spirit of God in order to make alive! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stamp out the servants of God while the Holy Spirit’s fire anointed them for the bearing of testimony to the nations! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stop the mouths of those who claimed, “Our God is able to deliver us,” while the Holy Spirit’s fire brought the power of God to a multitude who went forth proclaiming “Our God has delivered us through the man Who was crucified!” Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace was made powerless to harm by the presence of the Son of Man, while the Holy Spirit’s fiery presence in Jerusalem was made possible by the presence of the Son of Man Who was risen from the grave! The Son of Man interceded to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in an early preview of His great act of salvation, which the Apostle Peter proclaimed so powerfully to all who would listen on the day of Pentecost. The testimony continues to go out about Jesus Who was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for redeeming you from the powers of sin and death. Rejoice in the Lord’s goodness to you! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 22 – Who will deliver you?

If you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? – Daniel 3:15 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:8-18 The challenge for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that their lives depended upon their response to Nebuchadnezzar’s blasphemous reproach of their stance, against his directive to worship his golden image. Would they blaspheme God or would they defy Nebuchadnezzar? Interestingly, in this account, we don’t know what the rest of the community’s response was. It may be that many did bow while others tried, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, to abstain from this act of false worship. In any case, we know that the Lord can forgive even such blasphemous worship. The Lord has a will and a way of delivering a man like Naaman who had fallen before the gods of his peoples until he learned of the Lord’s instructions to him. The Lord could forgive those who had fallen into various forms of idolatry. And yet the Lord was calling on His people to consider well the example of these men. In Daniel 7, the saints are warned of the dogged persistence of the kingdom of darkness to wear down the resistance of God’s people. This is why the LORD gives us the whole armor of God to withstand these attacks. As Calvin reminds us, from the beginning, “The Church of Christ has been so constituted that death has been the way to life and the cross the path to victory.” Even to die a fiery death is not the worst thing for us – for we have been joined to the Son of God who has died for us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for relief for those who are being persecuted under unjust rulers. Pray for joy in the face of hardships. Pray that the LORD would teach us the way of full obedience to Him. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 21 – What was I supposed to do?

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Matthew 8:35-36 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:4-12; Matthew 8:28-34 We see the very heart on display which the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 1:22 of the wicked “claiming to be wise” yet “they became fools”. For it is only a fool that says, “The thing that the Lord has revealed to me, I will defy. In fact, I will double down on it by forcing all the peoples in my tribe, and in my city, and among all the nations to stand and bow before this declaration of warfare on God’s plan.” Nebuchadnezzar wanted a crowd of witnesses to join him as he proclaimed that, “What the Lord has said, shall not come to pass.” We must know how this turns out. Pride does not go unpunished. There is no excuse just because we find ourselves in a crowd engaged in the same defiant activity. The circumstances in your life where this occurs are less dramatic than the display in Daniel 3, but the call to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ continues to require the courage that is on display in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Apostle John made this need for courageous conviction plain in his letter to the church, “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to follow Jesus as a witness of His love and truth. Pray for discernment to understand the subtle occasions for compromise in our lives. Pray for those who are being intensely persecuted. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 16 – All that glitters is not gold

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. – Psalm 1:4-5 Scripture readings: Psalm 1:4; Daniel 2:31-35 Daniel accomplished the very thing that Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors had said was impossible: he was able to describe the dream in the span of four verses because the LORD provided him with the knowledge of the dream and its interpretation. This reminds us of what Jesus said in another context that, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Before we move to the interpretation, it’s worth reflecting on the creative brilliance of this vision and the way the LORD gets His point across to this prideful ruler of the Babylonians. From a distance, this image was exceedingly bright and frightening as it stood before the king in his dream. This is like a super-charged totem pole with various metals arranged in layers. Yet the splendour and extravagance of the image were reduced to shreds by a greater object of divine origin – a stone that the king sees being carved from the mountain without human intervention! The original image, which terrified Nebuchadnezzar, was suddenly not his concern anymore. The stone obliterated the image and, as Daniel explained, it became a great image and filled the whole earth. I find a parallel here with Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians that, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong ... but remember, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:27-30). Suggestions for prayer Father, grant us insight into what matters most so that we would not be fearful, but rather live with confidence in Christ the Son through Whom life has come to our souls! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 15 – Facing certain death

This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God. – Jeremiah 26:16 Scripture readings: Jeremiah 26; Daniel 2:25-30 When Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD to Daniel’s predecessors in Judah before the exile, there were many who spoke against him to denounce his message of the judgment of God against their sins. They sought to have him killed for bringing the truth to God’s covenant people. Astonishingly, Daniel received a better reaction from the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar than Jeremiah received from those who had been given the Law and the Prophets and the covenant signs. Nonetheless, while King Nebuchadnezzar was more receptive to Daniel because of the intensity of his fear of the vision he’d received, he still challenged Daniel by asking, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel testified that the bankruptcy of those who said, “There is no one who can interpret your dream” was matched by the supremacy of the God in heaven Who reveals mysteries about “what is to be.” This God of heaven continues to send out messengers who have come to us with words of life so that you would sincerely believe and trust in Christ Who was crucified by those who rejected Him, but embraced by those who cherish Him. Therefore, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for a readiness to daily take up your cross as you follow Jesus. Praise God for bringing you His Word today. Ask the Lord to open the hearts of those who refuse to embrace Him as their Saviour. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 14 – He removes kings and sets up kings

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22   Scripture readings: Psalm 2; Daniel 2:17-24 Daniel believed that the LORD would deliver him and his friends from the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. We read that he told his friends to join him in seeking, “mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed.” He prayed to the true God and the LORD answered! He received the truth about deep and hidden things. As Daniel says in verse 23, the simplest summary of the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, is that the LORD removes kings and sets up kings. Our God is so great that we can not only bring our needs to Him, but we can also know that even the things we are not even aware of in this world, are all known to Him. So when we confront the hardest burdens, we can follow in the path of the faithful who cry out to the LORD above Who hears our petitions and answers our requests. When our prayers are answered, we do well to see the faith-filled response of Daniel in the psalm he composes as an act of worship in verses 20-23. The moment Daniel receives the answer, his first thought isn’t to rush out to Nebuchadnezzar, but instead, his first impulse is to worship the LORD of Lords. Our God is always delighted to hear our response of thanksgiving and joy after He grants us our requests, chiefly in Christ. The prayer of gratitude is the greatest expression of praise to the LORD! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the LORD for His revelation to you of the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Pray that you would further understand His Will in changing and challenging times in your life. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 13 – To His feet your tribute bring

May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! – Psalm 72:11 Scripture readings: Psalm 72:11-19; Daniel 2:17-23 Today is Ascension Day as we remember and celebrate the triumphal ascension into heaven of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:1-12). He is seated at the Father’s right hand and He is continuing to minister to us as our intercessor, friend, and deliverer! The joy we have, in this time of earthly absence, arises from the knowledge of what wondrous things the LORD has done for us! Jesus, the Lamb of God, has made full atonement for our sins and is now seated as our High Priest Who has offered the sacrifice for sins, so that He might secure a righteous peace for His Church to enjoy through all eternity. Ascension Day also served as a beginning of the final part of Jesus’ heavenly ministry of bringing all things to their fullest end. His Word goes out to the ends of the earth in these last days. What is the consequence of His ascension? The declaration of Psalm 2:10 is clear: “O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of this earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Daniel’s response of thanksgiving to God in verses 20-23 echoes the Psalmist’s declaration of coming judgment against the kings by means of the stone described in the vision Nebuchadnezzar received. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet your tribute bring! Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who, like me, His praise should sing? Praise the everlasting King! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Ascended Saviour Who ever lives and makes intercession for us! Pray for patience and readiness of heart as we await His Second Coming! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 8 – Daniel the prophet

Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? – Esther 4:14 Scripture readings: Esther 4:1-17; Daniel 1:20-2:6 One of the challenges of the book of Daniel is that the first six chapters read like a story and the latter six like an account of one man’s strange dreams. We find it easier to read the story part and harder to read the dream sections, right? It can be helpful to ask what Daniel’s purpose is. Does he act as a deliverer or a prophet? Does he intervene for the well-being of God’s people like Esther when she spoke up to King Xerxes to avert a disastrous genocide in Persia? Looking closely, Daniel doesn’t actually serve God’s people as their deliverer even though he is in a high position. He opposes the king’s edicts, but he doesn’t lead a revolution. He warns the king of his pride, but doesn’t put a stop to the taunting of the exiles by the Babylonians (Psalm 137:3). The Lord raised up Daniel to chiefly serve as His prophet. He is not their champion, but he is their teacher of what it means to live with a fear of God. The text tells us in verse 17 about this calling to interpret visions and the remainder of the book shows us Daniel’s primary role as a messenger of the LORD to God’s people. The LORD anointed Daniel with His Spirit so that Daniel might proclaim God’s favour and covenant faithfulness to His people. Daniel and Esther foreshadow different aspects of Jesus’ ministry of revelation and redemption (Hebrews 1:1-4). Both are required and bring blessing to you! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would continue to reveal His truth to you! Praise God that He is both our Redeemer and the One who reveals the Way, the Truth, and the Life to us! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 7 – The turning point

I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:5-6 Scripture readings: Psalm 13; Daniel 1:18-21 The experience of the people of Judah in exile was not a happy one. They would suffer indignities and distress. They would weep on account of their wrongdoings and they would watch as the temptations of Babylonian life swept away many of their brothers who left the faith. Would they always be troubled? The experience of Daniel and his three friends declares quite clearly: no, it will not always be so! It is God’s sovereign will to save His people! Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s gifts from God are revealed to a watching world and He grants them all favour with King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a turning point – a moment when the blessing is visible again for God’s people. They are in exile, but the Lord is now acting to deliver Daniel and his friends from the expected outcome of their time in the training grounds. In Daniel 1:9 we read that, “God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the eunuchs.” It stands out as a relief and a delight to read of the LORD again showing favour and compassion to His people after all that they have (deservedly) gone through! I’m reminded of the question of the psalmist who cries to the LORD in Psalm 13, “Will you forget me forever?” And the psalm reflects on the turning point we all face in our lives when we remember that, “He has dealt bountifully with me.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for answering our humble cries for mercy and forgiveness! Express your gratitude for His gifts to you. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 6 – An object lesson for an exiled people

In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. – Daniel 1:20 Scripture readings: Psalm 66:16-20; Daniel 1:15-17 The whole reason that the people of Judah were in Babylon is that they had forsaken the way of God in exchange for the ways of the surrounding nations. Their lives were now a tragic example of what the judgment of God looks like. What should they do when their exile was a consequence of their unfaithfulness to God? The answer is simple. Be faithful to the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He can intercede and aid you in your distress. As the wise Teacher in Proverbs 3:5-6 taught Daniel and his friends, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” The outcome of such belief in the LORD will look different for you than it did for Daniel and his friends. You probably won’t rise as high as Daniel did or become as strong a student as they managed to. Nonetheless, the simple commitment to live with integrity and the fear of God is the answer to the question, “What should I do in the midst of these hardships?” The Lord dramatically displayed His will to set apart His servants for His purposes in the life of Daniel and He continues to display His will in your life, as you serve Him with thanksgiving for the life you have gained in Christ Jesus. Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to help you to find joy and strength in the midst of the trials you are going through. Ask the LORD to help you to remember that your faith is grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ who has forgiven your sins and given you new life in Him! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 5 – The fear of God in action

God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. – Daniel 1:17 Scripture readings: Hebrews 4:14-5:10; Daniel 1:5-17 The setup of the cultural assimilation project was completed by the end of verse 7. The young men of Judah would be persuaded to forsake their old god and old culture by living a life of comfort, culture, and advancement. They would take on their identities expressed in the names of the pagan gods Bel and Nebo which were woven into their new names. They would become good Babylonians. This is what makes verse 8 so awesome! The food and wine from the king’s table were linked with the religious rituals of the king’s gods and therefore Daniel and his three friends resolved to have no contact with it. The actions of these godly youths were to serve as an object lesson for an exiled people of what the fear of God looks like in action. Every time that this story is read of their refusal to participate in cultic religion, God’s people are shown what the fear of God looks like in action. Daniel and his friends stand in the godly fear of Noah in Genesis 6:8 and they foreshadow the righteous man, Jesus Christ, who would not turn aside to the left or the right or be defiled in any way. In the story of Daniel, a portrait of Christ emerges. He too was given a new name, Son of Man. He came to a worldly place, the world of sinners. He too was tested and tried in every way so that we might receive His unblemished and undefiled righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world so that we might be saved! Pray that the LORD will build us up in the fear of God so that we will face challenges with godliness and wisdom. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 30 – With the Lord forever

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” - Psalm 23:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:6 In the last phrase of the Psalm, David declares with sure hope that the greatest desire of his heart will be granted, namely, his desire to be with the LORD forever. We remember that David, and we along with him, can only say this and believe this because Christ is our Good Shepherd and Victorious King. It is only because Christ laid down His life for us, His sheep, winning for us a great victory, lavishly bestowing upon us all the blessings of heaven and shepherding us through this life, that we can declare this with confidence. Those of us who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. There are no “ifs” or “buts” about it, for as Paul says in Romans 8:38,39, “For I am persuaded that 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.”  What joy and peace should fill our hearts to know that, believe and say that, for we get to see Jesus and be with Him forever. We dwell with Him and He with us now, spiritually. We see Him now with our eyes of faith. But there will come a day when we shall dwell with Him, both spiritually and physically and see Him perfectly, not just with our eyes of faith, but with these physical eyes resurrected. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would increase your desire to dwell with Him and dispel any doubt in your heart. Pray this for yourself, but also for the church around the world. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 29 – The pursuing faithful love of the Lord

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” – Psalm 23:6   Scripture reading: Psalm 23:6 Today we’ll focus on the first half of verse six. This verse closes the Psalm with essentially two definitive and declarative statements. Looking at the first one, we see David is declaring with absolute confidence that the goodness and mercy of the Lord will follow him all the days of his life. First of all, let’s look at the goodness of the Lord. David is declaring that all the days of his life he will see God working in wonderfully good ways. Second, David declares that the mercy of the Lord will follow him all the days of his life. The word that is translated as “mercy” is the Hebrew word “hesed," which is an incredibly important word. Hesed certainly means mercy, but it is a much more fulsome term than what can be translated by one English word. It means the covenantally faithful love of God. All through his life, David professes that the hesed of the Lord will be with him. But it is not just with him. The word that is translated as “follow” should really read, “pursue” or “hunt”. Essentially David is saying that the Lord is going to hunt him down only to cover him with goodness and faithful love every day of his life. Isn’t that true?  Not just in the life of David, but in yours?  Even when you don’t understand it in the moment, how many times can you look back over your life and see the goodness and faithful love of the Lord chasing you down and surrounding you?. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you the strength of faith to say with unwavering confidence, that His goodness and faithful love will hunt you down all the days of your life. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 28 – Overflowing blessings

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” - Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 The last phrase of this verse might be one that we run past as we recite or read this Psalm. Yet, the truth that our cup runs over is a beautiful one. All Christians, no matter how much they have suffered in their life, can say this phrase, “My cup runs over”. What is pictured for us in this phrase is that in the presence of the victorious king, the people at his table would drink with him and enjoy the spoils of victory. The wine-cup pictured here means so much more than simply enjoying victory. It is the cup of blessing. We are reminded that we get to drink of the cup of blessing because Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath. We are told here that Christ is not stingy with the wine, or with any of the blessings that flow from His heroic victory. The cup of blessing which we are given by Christ is overflowing. I urge you to think upon your own life. Can you not say that this is true?  No matter how much you have suffered, you can declare this with joy because you have Christ and all the eternal blessings that He gives to you. No one and no thing can take those blessings away from you. As a sure test, to see if you understand and believe just how blessed you are in Christ, ask yourself how joyful and thankful you are. Is the joy of Christ evident in your life? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with joy as you come to a greater understanding of just how blessed you are in Christ. Pray Christ would use you to infect the rest of His church with that joy and thankfulness. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 27 – Anointed by Christ

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” – Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 Turning our attention this time to the second phrase in this verse, we see a great blessing that is ours in Christ. We are anointed by Christ with oil. When we think of anointing, we often think of the anointed offices of the Old Testament: prophet, priest and king. Certainly, the idea of our being anointed as prophets, priests and kings is in view here. It was also customary to anoint favored or exalted guests at a feast. In this psalm, Christ is pictured as anointing us, favoring us and exalting us as esteemed guests at His victory feast, in full view of our enemies. Have you considered how much Christ values you?  Esteems you?  Even exalts you? Do you know that Christ, in saving you, has indeed made you little prophets, priests and kings, reigning with Him over all things?  As it is written in 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him” or also in 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?”  This is not just something that is entirely in the future either, but Christ exalts us even now, to such an extent that Paul talks about our future being seated next to Christ on His throne as if it has already happened. Ephesians 2:6 says, “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” . Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would help you to grasp how much you have been given in Christ and praise Him for it. Pray that as an anointed one of Christ, you would serve Him humbly and faithfully all of your life. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 22 – He leadeth me

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:3 Since our Good Shepherd leads us to Himself to refresh us and restore us continually from His Word, by the result of being restored by Christ, He will also lead us in paths of righteousness. Christ will always lead us in righteousness, to do righteousness for the glory of the name of the Father. Following our Good Shepherd on the path of righteousness is for our own good. Our sinful and deceitful hearts would like to believe the lie that sinning will really make us happy and blessed. However, the truly blessed life is lived in communion with God and in obeying Him, for the Lord’s commands are always right, good and true. In the cultural and sexual revolution in which we seem to find ourselves, what has become incredibly obvious to any person with sense, is that the people who are happiest and live the most blessed lives, even from a worldly perspective, are those who even just outwardly follow God’s law. The sheep that stay close to the shepherd always have an easier time of things. The sheep that run off trying to chart their own course and destiny are the sheep that end up in big trouble. For example, a relationship that has taken decades to build can be destroyed in a few minutes. The blessed life, the God-glorifying life, is the life lived following Jesus. Christ our Good Shepherd not only leads us to Himself, but also leads us in righteousness to the glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would keep you from sin and give you the strength to follow Christ in all of life. Ask the Lord to continually change the desires of His people away from the inclinations of our sinful hearts and to love God and our neighbor. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 21 – Christ restores my soul

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:3 Looking at just the first phrase of this verse, “He restores my soul,” we see what David really had in mind in verse two was not just physical things, though that certainly is included, but the emphasis is on spiritual things. We know we need food and drink. Jesus tells us to pray for that in the Lord’s Prayer. We also know, however, that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need to be spiritually fed and nourished by the Lord as well. Christ as our Good Shepherd, not only provides all we need physically, but also gives us all that we need spiritually. He leads us spiritually to green pastures and still waters. What are those green pastures and still waters?  Where is Christ leading us to restore our souls?  As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, He is leading us to the Word of the Lord. Christ is leading us to Himself, the Word, as He is revealed to us in the Word of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord Jesus would continue to lead you to Himself in His Word that you would be refreshed. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 20 – Christ my daily provider

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” – Psalm 23:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:2 Sheep are incredibly helpless and stupid animals. We probably have the image of nice white sheep that just graze in the field. We have these images in our minds because of pictures or movies. But anyone who has had to deal with sheep knows its intelligence level is only slightly above a turkey and quite a bit below a cow. Even goats are far more intelligent, tough and resilient creatures than sheep. Sheep need a shepherd and not just for when they are being attacked by wolves or have fallen into a deep ditch. Sheep need a shepherd even for the basic needs of life, food and water. This was especially true when David was a shepherd, for a shepherd would have to herd his flock long distances to find good pasture lands, wells or oases along the way, in the arid land of Canaan. This is a good reminder for us, that we don’t just need Christ when we are in trouble; we need Him all the time for even our most basic needs. We have a bad tendency to forget Christ when times are good and we feel like we have everything under control. Then when we are in trouble we cry out to Him. Do you realize that apart from Christ you can do nothing (John 15:5) and are nothing?  We need Christ all of the time, not just when we are in trouble. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would humble you to be more dependent upon Christ for all things. Ask for forgiveness for when you have forgotten your dependence upon Christ in the good times and ask for His help to praise and thank Him for His good gifts to you. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 19 – I shall not want

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 If Christ is our Good Shepherd it must be concluded that we shall never be in want. However, have we actually given that much thought?  Do we actually live our lives as though we believe that? The tenth commandment is one we probably skip across as we hear it read on Sunday. However, coveting is an incredibly deadly sin. In fact, if we covet, we are breaking every other commandment. If we covet, we do not want to worship God alone; we want to worship something else. We want to worship God with our money, our time, our resources our way, not God’s way. We want something that we think will satisfy us and make our name great, not God’s. We want to find our satisfaction in a person or a thing besides God. We want to be a god unto ourself to get what we want. We are going to hate and not truly love our neighbour, who has what we want. We commit spiritual adultery with what we want. We seek and desire to have what is not rightfully ours. We believe lies that if only we have this thing or this person, we will be fulfilled. Maybe we say, “Well good thing I don’t covet.”  Have you ever sought satisfaction in something or someone other than Christ?  Have you ever thought, “If only I had that, or could do this, then I would be happy?” If you have you are guilty. As Christians, we are to find our all in all in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for forgiveness for when we have sought satisfaction in other people or things, rather than in Christ alone. Pray that the Lord would give us hearts that are content in all circumstances, being completely and entirely filled with Christ. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 14 – The King is coming!

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” - Psalm 24:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:7 We now come to the third part of the Psalm (verses 7-10), where we see this excited and eager climax – excitement for the King to arrive – the King who can ascend the hill of the LORD and bring us with Him. We see this fulfilled at Christmas, in that Christ arrived on the scene of history to lead us to victory. These words are also fitting as we see the Triumphal Entry of Christ, as He entered Jerusalem and went to accomplish that victory. These words also point us to the Ascension of Christ, in that Christ has gone up before us into the very presence of the Father to intercede on our behalf and also to reign over all things. This section also anticipates the second coming of Christ, when He will finally take all of His people with Him to glory and to the new heaven and new earth. What we have in this section is a conversation between the one who announces the King’s coming and the gatekeepers. Think about how wondrous the Triumphal Entry must have been with Jerusalem all abuzz with Jesus’ entry. How wondrous it must have been to be a disciple of Jesus walking behind Him, as He rode into the city, singing His praises. How much more glorious will it be when Christ takes us with Him after His second coming?  How eager and excited are you for that day?  We cannot even fathom the joy that will fill our hearts in those moments. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with eager anticipation of Christ’s second coming. Pray that the Lord Jesus would come quickly and finally deliver us and all His people from all sin and this sinful world. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 13 – Seeking the Face of Christ

“This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah” - Psalm 24:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:6 In verse six there is an important point that is made which leads to a very important question that we must ask ourselves. We are told in the first line of verse six, that Jacob or the church, referring back to verse five, is blessed and receives the righteous salvation of the Lord. Continuing on in that line, we are told that those “who ascend into the hill of the LORD'' are those who seek the Lord (Psalm 24:3). Then again in the second line, we find a repetition, “Who seek Your face.” You find throughout the Scriptures and throughout the writings of the saints of church history, that all had an intense desire to see God. Moses asked for such a privilege in Exodus 33. It is the one desire of David as recorded in Psalm 27:4.  We are told in the New Testament, that in the face of Jesus Christ, all the fullness of the glory of God dwells (2 Corinthians 4:6, Colossians 1:15-20). The question then comes to us, do we want to earnestly see Christ now with our eyes of faith, and physically in the life to come?  Is that the greatest desire of our hearts?  Or are there idols that we would rather see? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would smash all the idols of your heart and that He would be the one desire of your heart. Pray for forgiveness for all the times that you sought your idols rather than seeking the Lord and finding satisfaction in Him alone. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 12 – The righteous acts of God

“He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah” - Psalm 24:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:5-6 In these two verses, we are told that those who place their faith in King Jesus, will be blessed and shall receive from the Lord righteousness. The second line of verse five is not a reference to the imputation of righteousness which one receives from Christ by believing upon Him, but rather refers to the righteous acts of the Lord in keeping His promises of salvation to the believer. Could we, who believe upon the Lord Jesus, as we have been brought near to the throne of grace and dwell in the presence of God, declare anything different?  Truly we, the people of God, are blessed in every way as we think upon the salvation that has been given to us in Christ. “This is Jacob” or we might say, “This is we who seek the Lord.”  We are blessed. For we who have no right to ascend into the presence of God, have been ushered in by Christ. We who only deserve God’s righteous wrath for all eternity, have instead received His righteous grace. This section ends with a “selah,” which means stop and reflect upon what was just said. Upon such a glorious truth, we must stop and reflect! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the grace of Christ would be highly valued by you and the church. Thank the Lord for the blessing and salvation that He has freely given to you by His grace. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 11 – Who may ascend?

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” - Psalm 24:3,4 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:3-4 These two verses show us our deep need for Christ. As we considered yesterday, God is holy. Here we are presented with the question, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?”  The answer is given in verse four, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.”  In other words, He who is perfect may come into the presence of the LORD. That means none of us, left to ourselves, can come into the presence of God, for we have all sinned (Romans 3:10-18). But praise be to God, for He sent Christ as our only High Priest, who can ascend into the hill of the LORD and stand in His presence. It is the sure hope of all of us who put our faith in Christ alone, that we are justified in the sight of God. Our sin is taken away, for Christ did away with it on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to us. It is in this way, and only in this way, that we may ascend into the presence of the Lord. All other attempts or ways are like the Tower of Babel, which have no chance of working, and will only end in ruins. There is no room for pride; we must in humble faith come to Christ, for He is our only hope of ascending into the presence of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would strengthen your faith, so that you trust in Christ alone for your salvation, and remove your trust in yourself, or anything or anyone else. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 6 – Never forgotten

“For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.” – Psalm 22:24 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22-26 Left to ourselves, we are poor. We are spiritually bankrupt. “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is our most dire problem. However, to add insult to injury, we also suffer great pain as we go through this life as the result of sin. Whether that is the loss of a loved one, broken relationships, physical poverty, or the stresses of the unknown future, we all suffer the effects of this broken world. I hope we see the enormity of the problems that we face. We are completely broken and impoverished as we live in a world that is suffering under the weight of the curse. Yet, as verse 26 says, we are never without a sure and secure hope, for because Christ is risen, we who are poor in our sins are fed and satisfied. Even though we suffer in this life with the effects of sin and the curse, we are never forgotten nor left alone. God will always hear us, answer us and deliver us as verse 24 says. Whatever our affliction, no matter how poor we are in any way, we have reason to rejoice for Christ died and is risen! Praise the Lord for His complete deliverance which He gives to us. The last phrase in verse 26 is often translated as a wish. “Let (or may) your heart live forever!”  However, it is to be translated with much more surety than that. This is your sure hope, “Your heart shall live forever.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would continue to open your eyes to the brokenness in your own sinful heart, as well as the brokenness in the world. Pray that He would open your eyes to the wonderful, powerful and eternal salvation provided in Christ. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 5 – Christ the choirmaster

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” – Psalm 22:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22 Yesterday, as we considered the resurrection of Christ and that the Father answered Christ’s prayer in raising Him from the dead, we saw that rejoicing with praise is the only proper response we could have. The words of the second half of this Psalm lead us there. But now I want to consider just verse 22 in the light of Hebrews 2:12. In Hebrews 2, the author quotes Psalm 22:22 and says that this verse applies directly, not just to us as we might expect, but also to Christ Himself. The author of Hebrews is making the point that Christ is our Elder Brother and  He will declare the name of the Father to us, singing with us, in the midst of the assembly the glories of the Father. I wonder if we think about this glorious truth that the author of Hebrews is making known to us as he quotes Psalm 22 when we sing in church?  When we sing, and especially when we sing in the context of corporate worship, we are not just joining with saints below and saints above as well as all the angelic hosts, we are joining with Christ, the great Choirmaster as He personally leads us in the singing of the praises of God. Next time you are in church, I encourage you to think about this while you are singing. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as you sing, you do not simply say the words, or just enjoy the music, but ask for forgiveness when you do. Ask God to remind you as you sing that you are joining with all the saints, angelic beings and chiefly with Christ in singing the praises of God. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 4 – He is risen indeed!

“You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” - Psalm 22:21c-22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:21-31 He is risen! He is risen indeed!  Having walked thus far through this Psalm and the account of our Saviour’s suffering, dying and His body being laid in the tomb, the words of verse 21 should vault us into great rejoicing, just as Mary Magdalene did when she saw Jesus on Easter morning. Read those wonderful words again, “You have answered Me.”  On Easter morning, the Father certainly did answer the prayer of Christ upon the cross. The Father raised Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is no wonder that verses 22 and following are full of praise and rejoicing. Certainly that Easter morning Christ was rejoicing, all of heaven was rejoicing, and though the disciples were slow to understand and believe, they eventually got there too. And so as we read this passage, we too should want to proclaim and sing the glories of our God. Christ is risen, brothers and sisters! Rejoice and sing: “Sin’s bonds severed, we’re delivered, Christ has bruised the serpent’s head; Death no longer is the stronger, Hell itself is captive led. Christ has risen from death’s prison, O’er the tomb He light has shed” (Praise the Saviour, Now and Ever: stanza 3).” Our prayers for salvation are assuredly answered because of that Easter morning. “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him (Christ); But when He (Christ) cried to Him (The Father), He heard” (verse 24). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with joy in knowing that just as the Father answered the prayer of Christ, so our every prayer will be heard and answered. As you pray for forgiveness from your sins, for a clean heart, to be remade in the image of Christ and to be granted eternal life, you will be heard and answered for He is risen! Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 3 – Wait on the Lord

“But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me, O My Strength, hasten to help Me!” - Psalm 22:19 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:19-21b While originally these two verses were certainly a cry of David, this was also a cry of Christ upon the cross. On this day, between Christ’s death and His resurrection, we remember the prayer of our Saviour upon the cross. When Jesus cried to His Father, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?,” we see the perfect faith that Christ had, even as He suffered under the wrath of God for our sin, for Christ had to wait on His Heavenly Father. Christ had to endure dying on the cross, and even though His human soul was in heaven, He had to wait until Sunday. We maybe look at this and say, “Well, Christ only had to wait three days!  My suffering has gone on for years!” Let us remember two things: first, that Christ suffered more than we know during His entire life on this earth, and second, in the grand scheme of eternity, what is the real difference between three days and 80 years?. Dear Christian, think about this. Even our Savior had to wait upon His Father to be delivered from death and be victorious over it. Even He experienced what it was like to be a disembodied soul. Therefore, our Savior can perfectly sympathize with us in every valley, even death itself. Yet, He was raised in the speediness of three days for our comfort and benefit, as we will celebrate tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would remind us of the patience of Christ, waiting to be delivered. Remember that we have a sympathetic High Priest in every single trial we face, but also the sure comfort of Christ’s resurrection. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 29 – The conclusion of the whole matter: fear God

“Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13a Ecclesiastes 12:13 commands God’s children to fear God (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12). What does it mean? It does not mean we have to be frightened before God, though He is awesome, all-powerful, breath-taking and makes us often tremble. It does not mean He is cruel. No one ever is afraid of God because He is cruel! Fearing God first of all means having faith in and love for Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Why? Because God has given us Jesus, and He calls us to trust in Him. Christ is our justification, sanctification, redemption and our wisdom. And to fear God is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning and everlasting life with His wisdom, Jesus Christ. Secondly, fearing God means taking God seriously. When it is put this way people have images of God knowing everything about you, of God sending down fire on Sodom, of God on Mt. Sinai in the fire and smoke, of His holiness and terrible judgment on evil, and of His unconquerable control. Are these things true? Yes, absolutely true and we should take them seriously and reverence God. But there is this too. Fearing God is taking God’s grace and gifts in life just as seriously. Fearing God is believing He loves you and has given you Himself in Christ and the Holy Spirit. We are not righteous and we are not God. So we need God’s mercy and guidance and He gave and gives it to us in Christ by the Spirit. Suggestion for prayer Pray for the grace of fearing God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 28 – The conclusion of the whole matter

"Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."  – Romans 10:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-13 We are now in the last section in Ecclesiastes. Verse 11 tells us these words are from Christ, the One Shepherd. Our Lord put it plainly, “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep.” Well, in Ecclesiastes, Jesus is leading His flock with His truth. Jesus brings us to chapter 12:13-14. Notice the first phrase in v.13. The idea here is, “Now that you’ve heard God’s Word, this is the final result of the matter.” We are not able to figure everything out in life, but there are hope and joy. However, it is not about figuring out everything in life because life is vanity, uncontrollable by us. Biblical wisdom includes an honest acknowledgment that life in this world is often a mystery to us. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 is a call for faith in God! We have heard God’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Yet, God in love brings us to this conclusion: we need God, so the final grand result of the matter is “fear God, and keep His commandments…for God will bring everything into judgment.”Fearing God and keeping His commandments are actions of faith for the Christian. We will explore these actions in the next two days. Suggestion for prayer Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Pray God helps you understand His Word. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 27 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” – Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We are to remember our Creator, to live by faith in Him! Solomon applies this call in three ways. First, live by faith in Him when you are young and throughout your life, because one day you will die (v.1, 6a). God, through Solomon, uses a poem to show us this. One day the silver cord is snapped. Second, live by faith in Him now because when you die your body turns to dust and your soul meets God (v.6b-8). Third, and the main point, live by faith because life is a vapor. All of life is controlled by God, so trust God and enjoy life. Do you like to read? Read with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like sports? Play with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like to worship on Sunday? Worship with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. In other words, keep God in mind all the time. Remember what He has done for you, given to you, and promised you. Have faith in the Lord when you are young, in days of trouble, when the sun shines and when it is dark before the golden bowl is broken. Life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him. The gospel of Jesus, which God has given, is the way for us to have joy and faith. Suggestion for prayer Disparaging and worrying about circumstances in life is not wise. Pray God will give you the Holy Spirit’s fruit of peace and joy. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 26 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” - Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We have learned about God’s call to be joyful as we live in the fear of the Lord. In our text today, God calls us to live by faith too. God calls us to live by faith in Christ for salvation, but here, as God’s covenant people, He calls us to live by faith because life is vanity. But what does this mean? Vanity in Ecclesiastes does not mean meaninglessness. Life might seem meaningless, but it is not. Even the wicked are for the Day of Judgment. In this book “vanity” also does not mean emptiness. Life is not empty, though it might feel empty. Vanity in Ecclesiastes means life can seem empty and uncontrollable because it is uncontrollable by us. From our point of view, it seems that sometimes life is running away from us, or that all our work has brought nothing, or that trying our best is hopeless because we get it wrong anyway. We know life is a vapor; it appears for a little while and then it is gone. The whole point of Ecclesiastes is that we are not in control of our life, God is. All that comes is beyond our control; God has the whole world in His hands (Romans 8:28). Therefore, we are to remember our Creator all our days, living by faith in Him, trusting His Word. Jesus came to save us and bring us to the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 15:18), and this includes remembering God and His Word every day of our lives. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would help you seek first His Kingdom. Life is short, but it is a gift from God to be lived for Him. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 21 – An amazing chocolate factory

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” - 1 Timothy 4:4-5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 This is a wonderful section of Scripture. It describes what the gospel of Jesus does in our lives. I am introducing this Scripture to us with an illustration. Perhaps you have seen the 1971 film, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Five children win golden tickets to visit Willie Wonka’s amazing mysteries candy factory. After the children and some parents arrive at the factory, Wonka takes them to the door leading into his factory. But to everyone’s surprise, it’s a very small, insignificant door. They are all disappointed and cynical and think the whole of Wonka’s factory is loony. However, when Wonka plays the musical combination, the door opens up to a huge, fantastic, grandiloquent, chocolate room full of colors and candy. The door into the room was small from the outside, but the place was magnificent on the inside. This helps us understand how the gospel works. When people are unbelievers they see the Christian life as small, silly and always disappointing. But when you believe in Jesus and are saved, you see the greatness of God, His forgiving grace, and the glorious new life we have with Him in the world He has made. The words in italics are the emphasis of Ecclesiastes 11:7-10. When we are saved by the Lord, we don’t escape this world, we are reintegrated to it to enjoy it in godliness. Read how Paul describes this truth in Colossians 1:18-23 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. Suggestion for prayer Father, grant me the grace to enjoy life in holiness. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Serving others generously today

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:16 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:6 Solomon applies the principle of verse 1 in three ways. First, with faith in God take the risk of serving others. Second, with faith in God take the risk of serving others generously. Today, we explore Solomon’s third application, with faith in God, we take the risk of serving others generously today. Think of the risks farmers take to plant. They could take the seed and sell it or use it for food. Instead, a wise farmer sows in the morning and at night by faith. He does not know if he will prosper, but he sows today! We could hoard our money and time to make sure we always have enough, but then we would not give generously right now. Scripture calls us to give generously to others today (1 John 3:17; James 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-18). For love of others and honor of God go without “me time,” or “money,” or “comfort,” today! Take the risk! Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 and Philippians 4:15-19. God will supply our every need. Consequently, we can give generously today because we can trust God to bring our bread back to us. Meyer wrote, “We are supplied by his abundances. It all comes down to faith. We can be extravagant in our generosity today because God is faithful and abundantly generous.” Christ gave every day of His earthly life. Jesus still gives to us today in heaven. His word still goes forth saying, “Today is the day of salvation”(Hebrews 3:12-15). Suggestion for prayer Ask the Lord to help you see how much He gives to you every day. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 19 – Serving others generously

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:2, 6 Today we explore Solomon’s second application of the principle in verse 1. The first is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. The second is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others generously. Generous giving is what God means in verse 2a. Don’t stop at giving to seven people. Go on giving to eight, nine or eleven. Give to the utmost; be a river of generosity to others. The verse also says, “For you don’t know when a disaster may happen.” This means: be so generous that you give to people even before there is a need! You don’t need a crisis to give to others. We are told in Psalm 112 that the Lord Jesus distributes freely and gives to the poor. He does this all the time and in many ways, not to just seven, but to eight, to nine, to a million. He gives not according to good works, or status. No, Jesus gives generously even in the midst of the greatest disaster on earth, our sinfulness. Maybe we would die for a noble cause or even a noble person, but we wouldn’t take that risk for Adolf Hitler. But while we were wretched sinners Christ died for us! God in Christ did not hold on to His wealth and forget about us. He became poor so that we might be rich. And, He found His investment; He got His bread back! His people and His world are saved and will come into the eternal Kingdom of God. Suggestion for prayer May you make me a cheerful giver, giving even out of my poverty. (2 Corinthians 9:6-10) Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 18 – God’s giving grace

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” – 1 Peter 1:20 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Why does the Lord encourage us to serve others in the language of, “take the risk"? First, in His grace, God confronts us in our sin. We generally think that loving others before ourselves is a losing game.We connive, rationalize, and jockey life so we come out on top. To give to others is often seen as risky business. Of course, godly wisdom practices stewardship, but we all know the self-justifications we’ve made for not helping a person, or not having children, or not sharing our time. Secondly, in His grace, God reveals Himself in verses 1-6. God in Christ cast His bread on the water before the foundation of the world! In Jesus, we see that God took the risk of living for others. He was a sower who sowed the Word. He knew not all the seeds would fall on good ground, but He sowed anyway. God Almighty is not like that foolish servant in the parable of the talents who wouldn’t risk losing his master’s money! No, God in Christ boldly worked for His kingdom and has brought back huge profits. God gave to Israel again and again even though He knew they would reject Him. Imagine, God gave Himself, for from this disobedient people, a virgin conceived and bore a Son. This Son of God served His people to redeem them. God cast His bread on the waters. When we are born again and trust in Jesus, we too take risks to count others more significant than ourselves. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for His inexpressible gift of loving and serving us. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 13 – Continue with Jesus

“Looking unto Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith.” – Hebrews 12:2 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10; 12:13 Yesterday, we started giving practical applications of Ecclesiastes 10 to our lives. The first application was to fear and love God, rather than wisdom for its own sake. The second application is simply to live by faith in God Almighty now. Yes, it’s hard to see your slip-ups, your foolish mistakes which brought trouble. It’s hard to live out, “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). But this text tells us we need God. Do you think you would have needed him less if you made all the right choices all the time? No. Wisdom is not the answer. God is, so continue living with Christ as your salvation and hope. Don’t lament those slip-ups, but repent and continue living by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What does Lamentation 3 say, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Did David quit after his sin with Bathsheba? No, he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of salvation.” Continue with Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Our slip-ups can cause us to focus on self. Pray for help to put off sin and look unto Jesus. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 12 – In Christ you are wise

“Count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:8 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10, 12:13 We have studied chapter 10. I am sure you have understood the point that in this fallen world, wisdom can be undone by foolishness on our part. Even the wise need God and must live by faith in God, or as Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “In the fear of God.” Putting chapter 10 together with chapter 12:3 has three profound applications for our lives. First, fear and love God, rather than wisdom for its own sake. Seek wisdom because you seek Christ. Let wisdom be a teacher to bring you to Christ. Yes, wisdom is needed, but you don’t have it all the time. You would not have known foolishness, except by wisdom. Wisdom is the way of blessing, but wisdom is not Christ. You might be living wisely for a while, but then there is that little slip, that hot head, that gossiping which sets you back. Don’t think your wisdom is gospel, flee to Jesus Christ. He is our saving wisdom, the Man who can save the city and He redeems fools. As our saving wisdom, He truly is great, He can and does deliver. He will not be forgotten. He is mightier than the world and He is our righteousness. You can be hot-headed, a wrong judge of character, miscalculate and slip up, but Christ never does. When you believe in Him, His righteous, His calmness, His wise authority, His perfect insight and His righteous use of words, wisdom is given to you! Yes, you are not always wise, but in Christ you are. Suggestion for prayer Count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 11 – Our much talking spoils many good things

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” – Colossians 3:8 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:12-20 Over the past four days, we have looked at practical examples of how our foolish actions can outweigh and spoil wisdom (10:1). The last example is in v.12-20. Talking, talking, talking is foolishness. Wisdom says, “Let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) If you gab, it will get you into trouble. Solomon illustrates this with political life. He and his court were given to the high life (v.18-19), but they always heard the criticisms and gossip because fools multiply words and sooner or later they got back to the king (v.14, 20). How can we slip up even though we know the wisdom which says, “Let your words be few?” By the slip of the tongue! By constant criticism even when you keep it to yourself or by talking on and on. Sooner or later a little bird tells others and you get into trouble. Of course, little birds cannot spread our words, but the point is sometimes we don’t know when to stop talking. We seem to be lost when we talk on and on. We think we can prove a point or assert ourselves with many words. No, we turn people off. Christian, live in the meekness of Christ. Don’t be critical or be a busy body with other peoples’ lives. Few words and kind words build unity in marriages, families and churches. Suggestion for prayer Pray you would love others better than yourself. Loving others keeps our mouths quiet. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 10 – Our miscalculations spoil many good things

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.” - Proverbs 21.5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1, 8-11 It says in Ecclesiastes 9:18, “One sinner destroys much good.” This applies to all of us. Even though we might “know better” we can be foolish (throw a dead fly into the perfume of life), and make things difficult. We always need God! Ecclesiastes has been showing us this with practical examples. We look at verses 8-11 today. It is true; in God’s world wisdom helps us to succeed. Thinking through the costs, drawing the plans, mapping out projections is very, very helpful (Proverbs 21.5). How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? Notice verses 8-10. By our miscalculations, our oversights, or lack of concentration, an entire project can be thwarted. We can dig a pit and fall into it. We get hurt on the job because we didn’t take the time to put our safety boots on that morning. Look at v.11. If the snake handler is wise, he will charm the snake before he handles it. If he doesn’t he will be bitten. A young man was taught to take care of his finances. But two months before the wedding he came across a deal too good to pass up. He bought into it, but it was a scam! Such a small thing, but it brought down so much. Miscalculations and oversights happen all the time. Proverbs 21:5 is true, yet, in this present life, we are not always diligent. Christ Jesus always was. He never miscalculated and He did God’s will perfectly. By His perfect work, we have forgiveness for our foolish miscalculations. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for His unchanging love for you, even when you have miscalculated. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 5 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can enjoy life.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:8-10 Aren’t verses 8-10 amazing verses? They are the “application verses” of all we have studied over the past few days. Remember, life is better than death because the living can put their faith, hope, and comfort in God when He saves them in Christ. When God blesses us this way, we have the assurance of His love and this opens us to “enjoy” life. First, we are to enjoy life in the gospel! Look at the images in verses 7-8. They are gospel images. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ. We are to commune with Christ with joy. Being clothed in white represents being clothed in salvation (Revelation 3:4-5, 18). The anointing of oil speaks of the anointing of the Spirit. Secondly, we can enjoy what God has provided (v.9-10). Enjoy your wife, enjoy your work and enjoy your life in God’s name. So go ahead, do as God would want! Eat, drink, love, worship God, work, and whatever you do, do it with all your might as unto the Lord. This is God’s will for you in Christ. The mark of a man of faith, who fears God, is that despite the sufferings and mysteries in life, even despite death, is that he enjoys life as a gift of God. When we are dead, our time for this joy is done. Yes, we will live eternally in heaven, but this life is life too. Suggestion for prayer Sanctify all you do with prayer and enjoy all God has given you. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 4 – Live is better than death. Why? The living can have the comfort of God.

“Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.” – 1 John 3:20 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:7 Faith and hope in the Lord also bring believers the comfort of God. This is the focus of verse 7. How can you be glad in faith when you, by the circumstances of life, cannot tell whether God loves you? Remember the same things can happen to the righteous and to the wicked. The answer is not to look at life’s circumstances for signs of God’s grace and blessing. Instead, the answer is to listen to God’s Word! Scripture says we should examine ourselves, but that test, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, is not according to circumstances or works. It is whether or not you have faith in Christ - that by Christ, God loves you! Faith in Jesus brings comfort to us. Do you want to know what God thinks of you? Read verse 7. “God has already approved what you do.” Believe the gospel of Jesus. In Christ, you are already righteous in God’s sight through faith in Jesus. And what does God think of you who are in Christ? He approves of you and what you do! No, God does not condone sin, but He does love us and accept us in His Son as righteous even when we sin. So when our hearts condemn us, God and His love are greater than our hearts. God turns us back to Himself. He testifies to us by the Spirit that He loves us. What a great comfort. Suggestions for prayer Be thankful that God’s Spirit bears witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 3 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can have the hope of Jesus.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 Today our focus is on chapter 9:4-6. The living can be loved by God and given faith in Christ, but God can also give them the gift of hope! It is the living that can have hope. Meyer: “This hope is the trust, the faith, which the living has in God. If you are still alive, there is this hope of hearing the Word of God in Jesus Christ, the hope of hearing the good news of God, the hope of preparing to meet God by the way God has created, the hope of living for him, the hope of giving a cup of cold water in his name, the hope of rejoicing in the glory of God!” We are not in control of our future. We are sinful and need God’s forgiveness; we will die, so we need to live by faith. However, only the living have the hope of faith. Imagine if you died before “having the eyes of your heart enlightened to know what the hope and riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ are” (Ephesians 1:18). The dead without God can’t know this anymore; their rewards are gone, as is their love, hate, envy and dreams. There is an advantage to being alive…even though there is vanity. Notice again verses 11-12. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the fruit of the Spirit of hope. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 2 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can live by faith.

“The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 Over the next few days, we will be exploring chapter 9:1-12. The basic message is this: Life is better than death because living people can live by faith in God, have hope and comfort from God, and enjoy God. We are first given a call to live by faith in verses 1-6. In giving this call, God first reminds us that God is sovereign. All the deeds of the righteous and wise are in God’s hands, and the deeds of the wicked are before God too. Also, similar events happen to the righteous and to the wicked. God is sovereign. Does God love you?! You cannot answer that question by whether you are sick or healthy, poor or rich, or do certain good works because the same event happens to the good and to the evil. Can we assert, “God loves only these kinds of people,” or “God can’t love me, I’m so bad,” or “God must love me, look at my kids?” No. Human experience or good works do not decide whether God loves you and will save you. God is sovereign. See verse 2 and verses 11-12. Man is terribly sinful; madness is in his heart. Our future under the sun is unknowable and uncontrollable by us. So the call on us is to live by faith in the Lord. God loves His people and we know we are His loved people when He gives us faith to live for the Lord in life. Suggestion for prayer Pray for the fruit of the Spirit of faith. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 25 – Christ’s ascension and God’s mission (2)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering - Hebrews 12:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:18-24 Having ascended into heaven, Christ continues to participate in His Father’s mission for His glory by fulfilling His threefold office of king, priest, and prophet. He is the head and mediator of the new covenant and Lord of the universe. As king, He is rewarded for His obedience by being given the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow. He participates in His Father’s mission for His glory as the great Son of David leading history to its ultimate fulfilment in the coming kingdom of God through his Word and Spirit. As priest, He participates by interceding for His people. As prophet, He continues to confront His church and the nations with the good news of the coming kingdom of heaven, urging them to repent and believe or face the fire of God in His coming judgment and be excluded from this kingdom. Participating in God’s mission for His glory involves participating in Christ glorifying His Father in heaven as priest when we come together for worship on earth. This also involves our participation in His prayers as we pray not only for ourselves, but for the world in His name. Moreover, it involves participating in Christ’s prophetic ministry of preaching the good news of the coming kingdom and calling people to repentance. Furthermore, it involves participating in Christ’s kingly ministry of announcing the forgiveness of sins, exercising church discipline, administering the sacraments and participating in the gifts of the Spirit Christ gives as the ascended king. Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father that participating in His mission for His glory on earth involves the privilege of participating in Christ’s ministry of glorifying His Father as prophet, priest, and king in heaven. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 24 – Christ’s ascension and God’s mission (1)

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God - Colossians 3:3 Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11 Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, through the power of the Holy Spirit, inheriting the glory of God, glorified with the glory He had in His Father’s presence before the world existed. The disciples only saw Him ascending. They did not see Him entering heaven because a cloud took Him out of their sight. The two angels needed to tell them that Jesus had ascended into heaven. While a cloud reveals God’s glory, it also conceals His glorious presence. Thus, as the resurrection had a hidden character, so also the ascension had a hidden character because it conceals Christ’s glorious presence since He is now hidden in the glory of God (Colossians 3:3). Moreover, those who have been made alive together with Christ, through faith, participate in Christ being hidden in the glory of the Father. Their life is hidden with Christ, in God, because they are seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6). Accordingly, their life also has a hidden and mysterious character like Christ’s life. This means that participating in God’s mission for His glory by living in Christ involves living with a mystery that has an already and not yet aspect to it. On the one hand, God’s mission for His glory and our participation in it has already been completed in Christ because sin, death, and the devil have been conquered in Christ. On the other hand, they have not yet been defeated in this life. This leads to the tension of the already and not yet of the Christian life. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to give you the wisdom you need to navigate the tension of the already and not yet character of the Christian life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 23 – Christ’s resurrection and God’s mission

...And was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. - Romans 1:4 Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-7 Jesus not only predicted His death, but He also announced He would rise from the dead. In doing so, He linked His resurrection to His death. As such, His resurrection from the dead was God’s judgment upon the miscarriage of justice that took place when Jesus was innocently condemned to death.  When the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, God reversed His condemnation of being a blasphemer and a political threat and vindicated His claim that He was God and Israel’s true Messiah. Moreover, God vindicated Jesus as His true Son, Who was the theatre of His mission for His glory and participated in His mission for His glory by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven and visible on earth by being a person and place where heaven and earth meet. As such, He is the true son of Adam, Abraham, and David. Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection was proof that, as king, He defeated our real enemies: sin, death, and the devil. Consequently, He rose from the dead with a glorified resurrection body as the first fruits of God’s new creation, as a fulfillment of the promise of a new covenant. In addition, because He rose from the dead through the Spirit, Jesus was able to pour forth the Spirit, enabling God’s people to participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that because Jesus rose from the dead, He is able to pour out this Spirit on you enabling you to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 22 – Christ’s sacrifice of his death and God’s mission

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” - Luke 22:20 Scripture reading: Luke 22:14-23 Having identified with Israel with the sacrifice of His life as their substitute and representative, Jesus also identifies with them with the sacrifice of His death in order to deal with the problem of sin, death and the devil and bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations. After entering Jerusalem as Israel’s king and bringing the temple service to a standstill, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples giving the elements of bread and wine a new interpretation. The bread was interpreted as His body and the wine as His blood of the new covenant, clearly alluding to the blood of the old covenant. In this, Jesus is interpreting His own imminent death as the means that will bring about a new exodus that will deal with the problem of sin, death, and the devil once and for all. In dying a death on the cross, Christ continued to surrender His life to His Father and offer Him the sacrifice of His death through the power of the Holy Spirit as His people’s substitute and representative. In doing so, He continued to fulfill all righteousness and deal with the problem of sin by making atonement for His people’s sin, removing it from God’s sight and stilling His wrath. As a result, He reconciled His people to God and freed them from the curse of the law and the power of the devil, so that they can continue to participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible and bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He dealt with the problem of your sin by removing it from His sight and reconciling you to Himself, freeing you from the curse of the law and the power of the devil so that you can participate in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 17 – Becoming a new creation and God’s mission

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 Scripture reading: Ezekiel 36:22-38 God will achieve the goal of His mission for His glory by circumcising His people’s hearts. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit, by making them into new creations that are receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading. Consequently, they will not live in the flesh, but in the Spirit with the law written on their hearts, bearing witness to the life of heaven on earth. Moreover, God will cleanse them of their sins. He will forgive them their sins and spiritually cleanse them from sin’s effects. Furthermore, God will have His people return to the Promised Land where they will live under a Davidic king as one people, with Him being their God and them being His people. The temple will also be restored, the nations incorporated into this covenant, as promised to Abraham, and the land and creation will enjoy an abundant fruitfulness comparable to the Garden of Eden. This is nothing less than a resurrection from the dead and a new creation. God will do this for the sake of His name. Because this covenant is an eternal covenant, it is also God’s last covenant with Israel that will not be superseded by another covenant. The restoration of the Jews in the Promised Land marked the beginning of the fulfilment of the new covenant promises. However, this was merely the beginning, for the ultimate fulfilment of the new covenant promises will take place in the new heavens and the new earth. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who writes His law upon your heart making you receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 16 – The promise of a new covenant and God’s mission

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah... - Jeremiah 31:31 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34 When God made His third covenant with Israel on the Plains of Moab, He predicted that, because of their constitutional incorrigibility, they would fail to keep His covenant and be sent into exile. What God had predicted also happened. Yet, God also offered His people hope by promising to one day bring them to repentance by circumcising their hearts and restoring them to the Promised Land. Because divine-human covenants are manifestations of God’s faithfulness to the creational purpose of His mission for His glory that rescues this mission in a time of crisis or uncertainty, God encourages His people in exile with the promise of a new covenant. With this new covenant, God will achieve what He always wanted: a theatre of His mission for His glory made up of human beings who participate in this mission for God’s glory, by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! This is what ultimately makes this covenant new. Unlike God’s first three covenants with Israel and His covenant with David, it will not fail to bring about God’s creational goal of His mission for His glory, by continually being broken like God’s first covenant with Israel and subsequent covenants with them. But it will bring this creational goal to fruition because it will ultimately be kept by both God and His people. Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father for His faithfulness to His mission for His glory. Thank Him that the new covenant is a guarantee that one day the blessing of Abraham will have been brought to the nations and God will be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 15 – Jerusalem and God’s mission for His glory

If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne. For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place. - Psalm 132:12-13 Scripture reading: Psalm 132 Yesterday, when we read about God making a covenant with David, promising that there would always be one of his descendants upon his throne, we did not read about any conditions in this covenant. In today’s passage, we do. It states that if David’s sons keep God’s commandments, they and their sons shall always sit on the throne of David. This reminds us that there is no such thing as an unconditional covenant or a conditional covenant, but that all covenants have both aspects. This mixture of unconditional and conditional aspects in God’s covenant with David has to do with the connection between God’s covenant with David and His choice of Zion or Jerusalem as His dwelling place. As God’s covenant with David is meant to give stability to His covenants with Israel, so His choice of Jerusalem as His dwelling place is meant to give stability to His covenant with David. If David and his sons want to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet, they would need to find their source of strength in God’s dwelling in Jerusalem. However, if they failed to do so and consequently failed to keep the conditional aspect of God’s covenant, God would still keep the unconditional aspect of His promise because of His choice of Jerusalem. This is all the more the case because out of Jerusalem, God will make a horn sprout for David and a lamp for His anointed (Psalm 132:17). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for Christ, the horn and lamp of David, Who bore witness to His glorious presence on earth and brought the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 14 – God’s covenant with David and His mission

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. - 2 Samuel 7:16 Scripture reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Yesterday, we saw that Israel’s continued failure to participate in God’s mission for His glory by keeping His covenant and being those people and places where heaven and earth meet, led to the failure of God’s covenants with Israel. We also saw that this, in turn, led to the uncertainty of whether God could still use Israel in His mission for His glory. We saw that when God makes a covenant with His people, He does so to rescue His mission for His glory out of dead-end streets and update it to new situations. We see the same when God makes a covenant with the house of David. After David was anointed king of Israel, brought rest to Israel by defeating her enemies, and brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, he wanted to build a house for the ark. However, God will instead build a house for David by establishing his throne forever (see also Psalm 89 and 132). In making this covenant with David and his descendants, God demonstrates His faithfulness to His mission for His glory by rescuing His bankrupt covenants with Israel and giving stability to these covenants. Perhaps, with a king after His own heart and with worship in the Temple, God can still use Israel as His treasured possession in His mission for His glory, to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that brings the blessing of Abraham to the nations by making God visible on earth, through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that Sunday is a reminder of His faithfulness to His mission for His glory because it is a reminder that He raised Jesus from the dead. Ask Him to make you abide in Christ and bear witness to the resurrection life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 9 – Obedience of faith and God’s mission

You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord. - Leviticus 18:5 Scripture reading: Leviticus 26:1-13 Participating in God’s mission for His glory is a participation in faith that leads to the obedience of faith. This was the case with the first participants, Adam and Eve. If they entrusted themselves to God and lived in communion with Him, being receptive to His voice, open to His provision and available to His leading, they would continue to enjoy the blessed life God had given them; if not they would die (Genesis 2:17-18). This is also the case for Israel. If she entrusted herself to God and lived in communion with Him, being receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading, she would live and enjoy the blessings of a secure and healthy life in the Promised Land. In the light of the New Testament, we can say that they would also inherit eternal life. To understand this dynamic of faith, it is helpful to realize that the contrast in Scripture is not between faith and works, but between faith and no faith. Those who have faith are expected, by God’s grace and Spirit, to manifest their faith in the obedience of faith. In the light of the New Testament, we can say that those who are grafted into Christ, by faith, will naturally produce the obedience of faith through the working of the Holy Spirit. Thus, there are not two opposing ways to life, one through faith and the other through works, but only one way: the way of faith that leads to the obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to be receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading so that you are able to participate in His mission for His glory through the obedience of faith. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 8 – The Sabbath and God’s mission for His glory (2)

Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death - Exodus 35:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 35:1-3 Yesterday, we saw that before Israel’s violation of God’s first covenant with them by worshipping a golden calf, Moses records that God made the Sabbath day a sign of His covenant with His people Israel. Every Sabbath day was meant to remind them that the reason for their existence was that they were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! If they did not do this, they essentially had no reason to exist. Today, we see that immediately after Israel’s violation of God’s first covenant with them by worshipping a golden calf, God made His second covenant with Israel, because He had compassion on them and forgave them their sin, Moses again records the command to keep the Sabbath day. In other words, Moses frames Israel’s breaking of God’s first covenant and the making of the second covenant with the Sabbath as a sign of God’s covenant. This shows us that the Sabbath was not only a weekly reminder for Israel that they were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory, by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. It was also a guarantee that God would one day reach this goal because, even though this mission had almost been destroyed because of Israel’s sin, it was steadily proceeding to the eternal Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that Sunday reminds you that you have been chosen to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible through being a person where heaven and earth meet, but also that it is a guarantee that He will one day be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 7 – The Sabbath and God’s mission for His glory (1)

It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. - Exodus 31:17 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 31:12-17 In Genesis 2, we read about God resting on the seventh day. This means that God rests from His work of creating, but also that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Everything He made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory. This creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days, we read that there was an evening and a morning, however, not with the seventh day. This does not mean that it did not have an evening and a morning, but by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s creation was meant to last forever and be elevated into the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God about which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9). It should not surprise us that God made the Sabbath a sign of His covenant with His people Israel. He had chosen them to be His treasured possession, meant to function as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Consequently, every Sabbath was to remind them of the reason for their existence. They were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to help you make this Sunday fruitful by reminding you of why you belong to His chosen people. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 6 – God’s second covenant with Israel and His mission

And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” - Exodus 34:27 Scripture reading: Exodus 32:1-14; 33:12-16; 34:5-7 A few days after Israel agreed to participate in God’s mission for His glory, it violates the second commandment by having Aaron build a golden calf and worshipping it. Consequently, God no longer considers Israel to be His people. Moreover, He wants to destroy them and make a great nation out of Moses. When Moses intercedes for the people, invoking God’s promise of making Abraham into a great nation, God decides not to destroy Israel. When God decides to send an angel with Israel instead of going Himself, Moses intercedes again and God has compassion on His people and forgives them.  He commits to personally accompany His people with His presence. Because of the crisis and uncertainty, Israel’s violation of God’s covenant with them had caused, God demonstrates His faithfulness and rescues His mission for His glory with another covenant. The new covenant updates His first one with Israel to the new situation of them having broken the first one. This second covenant is different from God’s first covenant with Israel because it is first a covenant with Moses and in Moses a covenant with Israel. Because Moses had found favour in the sight of God, God has compassion on His people and forgives them. As such, Israel can only participate in God’s mission for His glory because of God’s faithfulness and His willingness to forgive. It is precisely the name “LORD” that should remind Israel of this fact (Ex. 34:6-7). Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father for His steadfast love, grace, mercy, and willingness to forgive. Thank Him that you can always make a new beginning and continue to participate in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to February - God’s Mission for His Glory...

These meditations continue the series I did a year ago about God’s mission for His glory. To ensure continuity, I repeated two meditations from the first series. God created the world for His glory, i.e. that humanity and creation would make Him visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. As such, God would be praised by both humanity and creation. Because this changed with the fall into sin, God embarks on a mission to make all things new in a world where His people and His creation would again abide in His presence and make Him visible by being people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). However, we know that the end is better than the beginning. The beginning of creation is only the beginning of the life of glory, while the new heaven and new earth are the perfection or consummation of the life of glory. Right from the beginning, there was room for growth to reach the perfection living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. The biblical covenants made in Scripture are designed to advance and guarantee God’s commitment to His goal for creation and to having His people participate with Him in the achievement of this goal. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem that causes uncertainty in it. A new covenant often updates an earlier covenant to the new situation. I have entitled this second series: God’s Mission for His Glory and His Covenants with Israel, David, the Promise of a New Covenant and Life in Christ in the New Covenant. I enjoyed writing these meditations, was edified in doing so and hope and pray that you will be too. February 1 – God’s mission for his glory And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will well with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” - Revelation 21:3 Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-8 In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the loving presence of God. They participated in His life, light, and love and reflected this to one another and throughout the Garden. This made them persons who made God visible by being people where heaven and earth meet. It made the Garden of Eden a place where heaven and earth meet. Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden reflected the glory of God, that is His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. With the fall into sin, all of this changed. Because Adam and Eve lived outside the Garden of Eden, they no longer lived in God’s loving presence nor participated in His life, light, and love. Moreover, they no longer lived in a place where heaven and earth met, nor were they people who could give each other and those around them an encounter with God’s presence, His glory. However, God had no intention of leaving things this way. He immediately declared His intent to embark on a mission for His glory and make all things new. His people and His world would once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). Throughout Scripture we encounter God on this mission for His glory. At the end of Scripture, we see that God achieves the goal of this mission for His glory, on earth as in heaven! What a beautiful and encouraging mission! Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you how He is on a mission for His glory in your life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 31 – God is the God of peace

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:9-24 Shalom! In Bible times, when people met or said goodbye, they used this word shalom. In Hebrew, this word means peace, but could also be translated as harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare or tranquillity. It is the absence of anything that can in some measure disturb our lives. God is the God of peace! He is perfectly at peace, ever and always! Nothing that happens in this world truly disturbs Him. He knows it all; He ordained it all so there is a mighty calm in heaven. How we need this peace to invade our fearful hearts. This is possible through Christ, Who is our Peace. He made peace in His blood, while we were yet enemies! In sanctification, He breaks our sinful and rebellious alienation, so that the better we know God, the more we will experience His peace. We may trust that our God of peace will preserve our whole being blameless till Christ returns to bring eternal shalom. Then we will experience God's full peace. Then we will truly prosper and nothing will ever make us afraid, because only knowing His presence with us brings such peace. Isaiah already knew this when he wrote, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9). Let us trust the God of peace and let us pray, "Lord haste the day of eternal peace!" Shalom!  Suggestions for prayer Thank God when He has made peace in your life. Let us pray that knowing God will increasingly bring peace to our lives, until we as believers, one day, enjoy eternal peace. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 30 - God is the God of all comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 God is the God of all comfort. Knowing Him is the source of our true comfort in life and death. We are only able to know Him because He is so merciful to us, having revealed Himself to us in His Word and by His Spirit for His own glory. The more we know God, the more we will be able to rest in His sovereign Lordship and love through Christ. The more we know, treasure and relish Who God is, deepening comfort will fill our lives, even during our troubles and afflictions. This comfort will, through the Great Comforter the Holy Spirit, also flow to others! He, as the Source of all encouragement, comfort and consolation comes alongside us in our need for mercy, saving us in Christ. Let us, therefore, come alongside those who lack comfort, appreciating how He has comforted us. Not only does knowing God bring us true and lasting comfort, but all true knowledge of God (theology) is also ultimately meant to excite us to praise God (doxology). Every attribute we considered so far is a glorious reason to praise God. This verse reminds us of this truth. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort! He is worthy! God alone is to be adored and blessed! Suggestions for prayer Thank and praise God for Who He is, for the comfort you have received from Him in life. And pray that you will be able to comfort others by pointing them to the Lord when they need mercy and comfort. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 29 – God’s name is Jehovah

And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" - Exodus 3:14 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-15 These days, names don't mean much, but in Bible times the meanings of names were important. God's names are packed with meaning! They reveal something of God's glorious perfections. His most well-known name is Jehovah or Yahweh. God revealed this name to Moses at the burning bush. This name speaks about the perfections and actions of our Covenant-keeping God. It tells us about three unchanging things He always does for His people. Because He, the Great I AM, is Who He is, was and will be and in Jesus Christ, He is still the same, yesterday, today and forever! These are the three things: He is present with us - God assures Moses and His covenant people that He will be with them. In Christ, our Emmanuel, God promises to never leave or forsake us. He protects us - God assures Moses that He has heard the cries of His people and He will bring them in safety to the promised land. In the greater Exodus in Christ, God will lead us out of all sin, slavery and oppression, bringing us to the Promised land where we will enjoy eternal protection. He provides for us – God showed, all through the wilderness wanderings, that He provided for His people, even when they did not deserve it at all! God's merciful provision in Christ, through the wilderness of this world, is guaranteed! In Christ, we are kept unto salvation. Why? Because God is the I AM WHO I AM! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for being Who He is, in Christ, as the Great I AM and especially His commitment to being present, protecting and providing for His people by promise and covenant. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 24 – God is wrathful

God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. - Nahum 1:2-3a Scripture reading: Nahum 1 God's love for His people as well as His holy hatred and revulsion for sin, together with His righteous desire for justice, requires that the Lord will punish all evil and evildoers. Though God is slow to anger, all the wicked, unbelievers and unrepentant sinners will be punished. None will escape His wrath. It is reserved and stored up for His enemies. Nahum prophesied against Nineveh, years after Jonah saw them repent. They had returned right back to their violent sins and immoral wickedness. When we look around at world powers and governments promoting wickedness, we see similar things. Though God still patiently allows much evil, one day His wrath over sin will be poured out. Our comfort is that He will punish all evil at a global scale for everyone who ever lived. Eternal shame, reproach and wrath will be heaped upon those who have not seriously sought to escape His wrath by fleeing to and trusting in Jesus Christ. Micah asks, "Who can endure the fierceness of His anger?" (vs. 6). Obviously none! Please let the consequences of God's wrath sink in for a moment - eternal damnation. Knowing this, would anyone want anyone else to endure God's eternal wrath? Shouldn't our feet skip over the mountains of impossibilities to bring the good tidings of the Gospel, proclaiming peace through Jesus Christ? (vs. 15). Paul allowed the wrath of God, together with Christ's love to motivate him in evangelism (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10-14). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give us a burden for souls who are not saved. When we feel intimidated by evangelism, pray for boldness and opportunities to reach the lost and God's empowering Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 23 – God is jealous

For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. – Exodus 34:14 Scripture reading: Exodus 34:1-17 When we read God's law, we can hear that God is jealous. But have we ever stopped to consider what this means? Some people wonder how God can hate people while He is love. We need to recognize that God does not love all people in the same way. Those who are in covenant to Him by faith, are the ones He loves with a special love. Their devotion to Him, He guards jealously. He expects believers to be faithful, loyal, loving and continually learning about Him and His glory. However, often His people are shown to be covenant-breakers, as we see in the context of our text. This comes right after the episode with the golden calf. Yet, as Moses desired to see God's glory, the Lord graciously granted Moses' request. This not only reveals God's glorious name (vs 6-7), but He adds, "My name is Jealous!" (vs. 17). We recognize that this is a good thing because this is the passionate zeal that guards the exclusivity of the marriage covenant between God and His people. Jealousy evokes anger against an unfaithful spouse. God demands and desires our total commitment and surrender to Him and His glory. No spiritual adultery! Of ourselves, we are covenant-breakers; this is seen in Joshua 24:19. However, God by His Spirit, and through the ministry of His servants, will jealously guard the relationship to betroth us unto one husband, so that we may be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:2). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the fact that His name is Jealous and pray that He will guard your relationship with Him jealously so that you can enjoy more of the love of Christ in your life. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 22 – God is just

For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. - Deuteronomy 32:3-4 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 32:1-18 God's justice means God gives us only and always strictly what we deserve. Justice is a glorious attribute which, on the one hand, can be very comforting, but, on the other hand, can make us tremble. It can be very comforting when we (have) experienced abuse, injustice and are hurt by the sins of others, or when we groan about the results of our fall into sin. At Sodom's destruction, Abraham was comforted by this thought, "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Meanwhile, it can make us tremble to think what would happen if God would give us sinners perfect justice. It would mean that you and I would be enduring the destructive fires of God's wrath in hell; none of us are exempt. We know everything God does is perfect; His judgments are perfect! He is truth-filled and without any injustice. Yet, perhaps you wonder, how can we rejoice in and celebrate God's glorious justice? We can when, like Lot, we flee out of sinful Sodom to Zoar, or to echo our text, when we flee to the Rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ! On Golgotha, He received the just punishment we deserve for our sin. Now He can be both just and the Justifier of those who believe in Him. That's perfectly satisfying justice! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His satisfied justice in Christ. Pray that we would not forget this, especially in times when we feel entitled, discontent, and are tempted to grumble, or slow to leave our sins. Christ paid dearly to earn justice exalting God's mercy. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 21 – God is righteous

I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain'; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. – Isaiah 45:19 Scripture reading: Isaiah 45:15-25 What is righteousness? It is doing things in harmony with God's standard. What is God's righteousness? It is the perfection of God whereby He always acts perfectly consistent with His laws and spoken words. In our text, Isaiah says that God's people will not seek Him in vain! If God says that He allows Himself to be found by us (Isaiah 55:6), then He will indeed reveal Himself to us when we seek Him. But the opposite is true too. God says in vs. 16, if someone continues to serve idols, shame, disgrace and confusion are awaiting them. When God commands all the ends of the earth to look to Him so they will be saved because there is no other God, His righteousness demands that He will save us when we indeed look to Him for that salvation. (vs. 22). In chapter 46:12-13 the Lord says, "Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, who are far from righteousness: I will bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off. My Salvation shall not linger." This is the Gospel! God brings salvation and righteousness near through Jesus Christ, even to the stubborn-hearted and those living far from God! When we bow our knee to Him, we will confess, "Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength!" (45:25). In Jesus, the perfectly Righteous Savior, God Himself comes close, fulfils the law, imputes righteousness and teaches us to live righteously! Are we daily seeking God's kingdom and righteousness in Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to make God's Kingdom and His righteousness the first priority in your life. Pray that we may more deeply learn of the glory that God is righteous (consistently dependable) and gives righteousness in Jesus Christ. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 16 – God is holy

And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" – Isaiah 6:3 Scripture reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 This verse gives us a glimpse of heaven. Immediately, we are struck by glorious angels exalting God's holiness. No other attribute is repeated three times in Scripture as His holiness is. This is significant! Is it because God's holiness in His radiant beauty perhaps best describes Who He really is? Trying to define His holiness is not so easy. We can say holy means "to be set apart", and "utterly pure, separated from sin." But unfortunately, unlike these angels, we can say that, without being impressed by God's sheer otherness and infinite purity. Strikingly, when these sinless creatures exalt the Lord for His holiness, it humbles them! They cover their faces, they cover their feet, and fly with the other set of wings. What a lesson for us! Seeing something of God's holiness made Isaiah tremble and become acutely aware of his own sinfulness. And so will we! We will cry out with Isaiah, "I am undone - unravelling!" But at the same time, it prepares us to seek God's glory in this world. For when the Lord asked, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Isaiah eagerly answered, "Here am I, send me!" Looking to these holy angels to learn about holiness is good and necessary. But, looking to Jesus, our perfect High Priest, is better! For it is His holiness these angels exalt! Jesus, higher than the heavens, is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners! He approaches God on our behalf! That's good news for unholy sinners! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's holiness would grip you, supplying fresh appreciation for Christ and make you desirous to spread God's gospel and glory in this world. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 15 – God is faithful

Great is Your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:23b  Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:22-25 In preparation, I read this question, "How many people do you know who, no matter what the circumstances and no matter how they feel, will always do exactly what they say they will do every single time, (...) With the same thoroughness and perfection that you never have to worry about anything they say or do, because you know if they say it, they will definitely do it without fail, without change and without excuse?" That is what we mean with faithfulness! Not to be found in man, but found perfectly in God! Jeremiah, who sat upon the smoking heap of Jerusalem's ruins, knew that God was faithful! God had warned His people over and over not to continue in their sin. Yet, they would not hear! He threatened them over and over that if they would continue, God would allow Jerusalem to be ruined, the land to be forsaken, and His people to be exiled. God faithfully kept His promise to punish His unfaithful people. William Hendriksen observes, "Divine faithfulness is a wonderful comfort to those who are loyal. It is a very earnest warning for those who might be inclined to become disloyal." Jeremiah knew it firsthand, on top of the rubble... Deeply aware of what he really deserved, namely a total wipe-out (vs.22). Yet, he celebrates God's compassionate faithfulness toward himself and his people! Every morning he still saw new mercies! Undeserved! (vs.23). Can you see them too, especially when you consider your own daily unfaithfulness? Suggestions for prayer Consider and confess your unfaithfulness and God's faithful mercies. Thank God for Christ's faithful obedience, even unto death, to cover your unfaithfulness (1 John 1:9). Pray that you would serve the Lord faithfully today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 14 – God is true

God, who cannot lie, promised before time began... - Titus 1:2b Scripture reading: Titus 1:1-4 Paul wrote to Titus who was in a culture similar to ours, a culture of lies, in which appearance and popularity are valued over truth and faithfulness. We are surrounded by fake news, empty promises and by science (falsely-so-called). How confusing that can be. But blessed be the Lord, there is not the slightest hint of untruth in God Himself! Paul reminds Titus and us that God is the God Who cannot lie! He is the God of absolute truth! In the Old Testament, the Lord often revealed Himself as the God of truth (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Promises made before creation will be fulfilled. He kept each one of His promises concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. Truly, His promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ! Jesus said about Himself, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." He is not only saying that He is trustworthy, and the Source of all Truth, but rather that He is the embodiment of Truth! When Jesus stood before Pilate, a lying judge, about to suffer for speaking nothing but the truth, He confessed a good confession when He said, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Will you listen to His voice today, following His truth, even when it painfully exposes our lies? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His truth! Let us also pray that the Truth of Jesus will set us more and more free, that we would be truth-seekers and truth-tellers, and filled with God's Spirit of Truth, in a world of lies. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....