Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Browse thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news,and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians delivered direct to your inbox!


Most Recent


Daily devotional

June 21 – The duty of the Christian wife

Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:22-33; Proverbs 31:10-31 The duty to which God calls Christian wives could hardly be stated more clearly than what we read here in God’s Word, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”  Sadly, for many, even within the church, this seems outdated and even offensive. But properly understood, submission does not mean the wife is in any way inferior to her husband. She is not to submit because of any moral, spiritual or functional deficiency. Rather, her role of submission is defined by virtue of the fact she was created by God for man as his companion and help-meet. We have a beautiful portrait of a godly wife serving as a help-meet in humble submission and service to her husband in Proverbs 31. We read of a wife who is very competent, thrifty, intelligent, resourceful, caring and loving in her service to her husband. She is certainly not a servant or maid to wait upon her husband, hand and foot. She is certainly not a doormat on which to be trampled. A loving and wise husband appreciates the wife God has provided for him and utilizes his wife’s God-given gifts and the resources which she contributes to the marriage to complete him and to compliment him. And what is the result? “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Suggestions for prayer May wives find their joy and fulfillment in marriage as they heed the command of the Lord to submit to their husbands.

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 13 – Characteristics of children of light

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:8-14 What are the characteristics of this walk as children of light? They are defined here as: goodness, righteousness and truth. The first characteristic “goodness” has to do with moral excellence, benevolence, the act of willing and sacrificial service for others. Goodness is the outward manifestation of the spiritual condition of a Spirit-transformed heart. The second characteristic “righteousness” has to do with right or moral living. It means to know the right, to love the right and to walk in all righteousness. Those who are made righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ are commanded to live righteously, Corum Deo, before the face of God.  The third characteristic “truth” has to do with honesty, trustworthiness and integrity. It means to know and to love the truth of God’s Word. We must learn to distinguish truth from what is false, good from evil, using God’s Word as our absolute standard of truth. We must not only exhibit these characteristics as children of light, but we must continue to grow in them “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” What better place to do so than by gathering together to worship God on this, the Lord’s Day?  What better place to do so than to be under the faithful preaching of God’s Word. As we manifest these fruits of the Spirit, we bear resemblance to the heavenly Father Who is our light and our salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may more and more exhibit the fruit of the Spirit and be encouraged through the preaching of God’s Word to walk as children 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 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

June 5 – Be imitators of God as dear children

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Romans 8:12-17 We’ve all heard it said, “Boy, he’s a spitting image of his father.”  Or, “The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.”  We use these kinds of expressions to communicate the idea of just how much a child is a mirror image of his or her father or mother. There are certain characteristics, mannerisms, attitudes and conduct so similar to that of the parents that there is no case of mistaken identity. But then, can that also be said of us as children of our God, “He is a spitting image of his Father in heaven?” Can it be said of us that we are a mirror image of our heavenly Father? Can it be said of us that our characteristics, our attitude, and our conduct are so similar to that of our heavenly Father, that there is no doubt that we are dear children of our Father? Can it be said of us – I see the family resemblance. Adopted by grace through Jesus Christ, we are dear children of our heavenly Father and must no longer live as those belonging to the world, but rather, we are to live as members of the household of faith into which we have been adopted. There is to be no case of mistaken identity that we are dear children of our Father! Suggestions for prayer As dear children of our heavenly Father may we more and more be imitators of God Whom we are privileged to call “our Father.” 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 28 – Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God

Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity. – Daniel 4:27 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:19-27; Micah 6:8-16 Many years before confronting Nebuchadnezzar through the vision of the chopped-down tree, the LORD sent Micah to warn the Israelites that they were also in grave danger of being cut down. Why? They also were acting with wickedness, violence, and pride. The LORD sent messengers to them – as He later did to Nebuchadnezzar – and yet they would not listen. Daniel, as a servant of God, anointed with the Spirit of the prophets, brought word to the king with clear examples of what repentance unto everlasting life looks like. Similarly, we find in Proverbs 3:7-8 the instruction to, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” After all that they had done, the LORD was still willing to grant His forgiveness to those who had turned against Him and forsaken His Word, including a pagan king like Nebuchadnezzar. But the LORD’s instructions to the king went unheeded and he preferred to do what was opposite to what the LORD had told him to do. When you remember who you are in Christ, you can marvel that the LORD does bring about a work of transformation in your heart so that you do become more ready to act with love and less inclined to hardheartedness and tightfistedness towards your neighbours. He has shown you what is good and He will guide you in that path as you walk with Him! Suggestions for prayer Gracious Father, we ask You to embolden us as Your witnesses in a world that constantly rejects You and Your Word. Sanctify us by Your Spirit. Make us ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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 20 – I did it my way

Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. – Daniel 3:6 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:1-7; Revelation 18:1-8 What did the head of gold from the earlier vision go and do? He built an entire statue of gold! He made it plain that he was rejecting the message and rebelling against it. He is signalling to all who will listen, “Why should I be just the head if I can erect an image that exudes wealth, power and significance from head to toe?” The great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s own making was a billboard declaring his newfound disagreement with the prophecy of Daniel’s God. Had he taken the Word of God seriously, he might have built a statue with a golden head and explained to his people, “Look, there is another king who is coming and we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.” Nebuchadnezzar’s gold-plated display of defiance against the LORD symbolized his desire to allow no kingdom to destroy his dynasty. The fact that it occupied the site where the Tower of Babel was once constructed only adds to the irony of what he is attempting here. Today we are still in need of the Lord’s clear warning in Psalm 2 where we read, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” Today we are to remember that the LORD is in no way threatened by the forces of evil in this world Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would grant you joy in the face of opposition from the world. Thank Him for being patient with you in your weakness. Ask Him to give you a renewed resolve to serve Him without compromise. 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 12 – Swept up in the wrath of the King

Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. – Daniel 2:16 Scripture readings: Matthew 2:16-23; Daniel 2:12-16 Nebuchadnezzar was tired of the chattering of his enchanters, sorcerers and magicians. He was no longer interested in their vague methods of dream interpretation. He concludes that there’s only one more step to take. In his wrath, he commanded that all the wise men of Babylon and even the youths in the University of Babylon be destroyed. It’s a curious strategy that, under normal circumstances, would get him no closer to a solution to his dream problem. We know Daniel is in harm’s way. He tells the guard that he wishes to see the king who is spewing out wrathful commands and liable to kill anyone who upsets him. This is the moment that Daniel is chosen by God to go see the king. We wouldn’t plan it this way, would we? But then, we’re not God. We can stand in awe of God’s plan for His people – especially when we see how contrary it is to the things we would come up with on our own. In the verses ahead, Daniel will be given the words to speak so that he would be spared death. The marvel of the Gospel is that the Son of Man willingly laid down his life to endure God’s righteous wrath against our sin. Because of this, God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom of this world to be revealed as foolishness. Pray for God’s love to drive away your fears. Praise Him for sending His Son to die in your place as a sacrifice and substitute for 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 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

May 4 – Into the world

They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. – Daniel 1:5 Scripture reading: Galatians 1:3-10; Daniel 1:1-7 Welcome to the University of Babylon! As part of an assimilation strategy, King Nebuchadnezzar provided for the education of the prominent youth of the exiles from Judah so that he might strip away their foreign ways and bring them into service in Babylonian society. Daniel and his young friends were, in the plan of the king, going to be more valuable to his empire than the cups of gold and silver that he had taken from their temple. Their introduction to success in Babylon is the thing that would strip them of their past loyalties and family ties. They had no path to success in Jerusalem anymore. They had a clear path to success in Babylon if they followed the program of study and cultural immersion into Babylonian life. Youths of this age in Judah were supposed to be learning the Torah – the catechism of their people. Now their lesson book was being swapped for the catechism of the Chaldean empire and religion. These youth also had their Hebrew, God-fearing names replaced with Babylonian, false-god worshipping names. Yet, as we will see, we know the Lord is strong to save! We know He guards His servants who call on Him in prayer. We know He walks with us in this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) that He might deliver us at the appointed time. We see this in Daniel’s life and we can certainly see this in our own lives in this world as well. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord. Pray for discernment to see how the Lord’s Word speaks to the circumstances you are in each day. 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 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 26 – Our victorious servant King

“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 At this point in the psalm, the imagery changes from Christ being our Good Shepherd, to Christ being our Victorious Servant King. In the first line of this verse, the imagery is quite foreign to our 21st-century minds. In ancient times, when a king conquered an enemy city, he would have a huge victory feast in the royal banquet hall of that city. The king and all his generals and men of valour would sit around the table and eat the spoils of their victory, all in full view of the enemy king or governor and all their children, wives and officials. The conquered enemy would have to watch while the victor feasted. David here is saying that Christ has won the victory and set up a table for Himself to feast at, in full view of His enemies. Christ certainly has won for us a great victory by dying on the cross and rising again so that we sit in victory over sin, death, the world, and the devil. We are reminded of that great victory when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, where we are invited to the table of Christ and get to partake of the spoils of His victory. We partake of Him and are refreshed and enlivened after the struggles of fighting the enemy. How often do you meditate upon the victory that Christ has earned for you?  How often do you go to Christ, the Servant King, to be fed and nourished with the spoils of His heroic victory? Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Lord to refresh and nourish you with Christ and with all that He has obtained for you by His heroic victory on the cross and the open grave. Pray this for yourself and for all of God’s people. 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 18 – Yahweh is my Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 Yesterday, we considered the significance of David using the personal name of God, “Yahweh”. We can trust in our God because He is the eternally sovereign One Who is covenantally faithful. This is important now as we come to the fact that Yahweh is our Shepherd. This verse has been consistently and rightly tied to Jesus' statement that He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14). Right at the beginning, David is declaring, and we with him, that Jesus, the covenantally faithful and sovereign God is the One that is our Shepherd. We will get to the various functions of a shepherd and thus our Good Shepherd as we go along. Here it is sufficient to consider that a shepherd is a leader of the sheep. In the days in which we live, we are learning just how important it is to have good leadership because we are surrounded by a lot of horrible leadership. Whether that is leadership in the government, sports teams, artistic productions and in churches, it seems that so many are either too power-hungry to care and love at all, or they are so passive and insecure that they refuse to stand for the truth. Having good leadership that is both loving and truthful is incredibly important. Let us thank God that Christ is the Head of His church and that He does lead us perfectly in truth and in love by His Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit, throughout all of life. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to our Heavenly Father for giving us our Lord Jesus to be our Good Shepherd, leading us in truth and love. Pray that the earthly leaders Christ has given us in the church, government and various societal functions we attend would be godly. 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 10 – The Lord is holy

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:1-2 Psalm 24 is a Psalm that puts words to the joy and praise that we should have at the coming of the Messiah. It is a Psalm that can rightly be attributed to Christmas, the Triumphal Entry, the Ascension and the Second Coming of Christ. Lord willing, we will see this in the coming days. Verses one and two ground us in a never-changing truth which sets us up for the rest of the Psalm. If we were to summarize these two verses, we would say that the LORD is the King over all things. These verses show us the immensity of our God and just how awesome, majestic, holy and powerful He is. He is the Creator and Ruler over all things from the foundations of the earth to the birds of the sky. This leads us to the question, how do you view God?  When you talk to God in prayer, how do you speak to Him? Casually? Respectfully?  When you hear the Word of God, how do you hear it?  Do you listen intently and with awe?  Or do you listen to Him just like you do to everyone else?  These two verses are reminding us just how holy our God is. Yes, we are adopted into the family of God by Christ, but that does not mean that we should treat Him any less than holy. If anything it should mean that we see Him as more holy. Suggestions for prayer Pray for forgiveness for the times you have not respected the Lord as you should. Pray that God would show you His holiness and that you would have more respect, reverence and awe for Him. 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

April 2 – See the love of your Savior

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.” - Psalm 22:16-17 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-18 Today we remember the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Psalm 22, David gives us the prophetic words of the suffering of our Lord on the cross. This is the Psalm that Jesus quotes while on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The New Testament writers also use this Psalm to show how Christ’s death perfectly fulfills this prophecy. I encourage you to read the words of the first 18 verses of this psalm slowly. Let each phrase fall upon you like a hammer blow and resound like a church bell. Christ suffered in a way that is completely incomprehensible to us. The descriptions of the physical suffering of Christ in this Psalm and in the Gospels are horrendous enough, but nothing compared to what He suffered in His soul. On that cross, He suffered an eternities’ worth of hell for every sin of every saint. We cannot comprehend or understand what it means to suffer for one sin in that way. Today is called Good Friday because, for us who believe upon Christ, we will never have to experience any of God’s wrath against our sin. We experience His discipline and displeasure at our sin, sure, but never His wrath. See, brothers and sisters! See the love of your Savior, today and every day, as you think upon His willingness to go to the cross for you and suffer as He did. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to our Lord Jesus for willingly going to the cross to die in our place. Give thanks that He was willing to suffer and be rejected by God that we might forever be received by Him. 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 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 25 - The call of joy

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:10 Our reading today is a call for young people to live in joy. Of course, we can apply it to all Christians. This verse is the Philippians 4:6 of the Old Testament. We could paraphrase verse 10 this way, “Soon you will turn to dust, so while you are able, get rid of vexation, anxiety, worry and anger.” When we are vexed, worried, or angry it’s because we don’t like the harsh realities of life under the sun. We are frustrated because we cannot control our life. Here, Christian, God directs us to banish all anxiety by faith in God. Be joyful for all that is in front of you. Relax and have some chips and dip. The Lord is in control (Matthew 6:25-34). So here we have this great charter of joy! All of us throughout our life are called to live a youthful joy. Now there are times we are called to mourn. See verse 8. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:4). But the idea here is to enjoy the life God has given, even though mourning is part of it. Of course “youth and the dawn of life” do have their vanity. The time of youth, as well as old age, can be empty and transitory when lived in sinful lusts. But when we fear God and believe in God’s Son, we are enabled to enjoy life as we live by faith. Suggestion for prayer The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Ask God to teach you joy in every situation. 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 17 – Take the risk of serving others

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 We learn the principle in verse 1 is to be bold and take risks in serving the Lord. Over the next few days, we will learn the three ways Solomon applies this. First, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. This comes out in the words “give,” and “sow”. Solomon beckoned us to do good (3:12), to work (3:22; 5:18; 8:15), and to please God (2:26). What does this look like? Live generously for others; take that risk and in faith do it. If you spend too much time figuring out if all the conditions are right, you will probably keep back love, friendship and sharing your life. God gave us life and love, our hands, our work, and our lot in life. We don’t know all that will befall us, but we are called to live it in the fear of God. Waiting for the time when everything will be predictable, risk-free and affordable before we give and serve others means we want to be God. However, only God is sovereign and we don’t know how He will work. But, Christian, still take the risk, sow the seed, and serve others. Go to work for your family, have children and spend time with them, sit down to talk with someone who is sad, adopt children, and love your spouse. Remember Jesus’ life of faith. He said, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Suggestion for prayer Pray for humility and to have the mind of Christ. 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 9 – Foolish leaders spoil many good things

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.” - Matthew 23:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 In this chapter, God is saying we do foolish things which can tear down the wise things we’ve done. The writer proves this point with four practical examples. The example today is in verses 5-7. Not all people in authority are wise! We might think prime ministers, presidents, conference speakers, or pastors with their PhDs are wise, able to teach, lead, and organize for the good of others. Sadly though, halls of power are often upside down. Ignoble people ride noble horses, while noble people walk the ground. People with great influence can often have selfish ambition in their hearts” (James 3:14), consequently spoiling countries, families and churches. How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? By trusting people who are not trustworthy because we want what they have. For example, we go to a particular seminar or conference to learn the key to the Christian life, or how to be a better homeschooler. We trust so and so’s book; after all they are leaders. Yet, in the end, they didn’t bring the peace of Christ to us. They brought us to legalism or antinomianism, or we became self-righteous, or we gave our money to this candidate believing in him, only to hear he was a womanizer. Many times Christians have followed a “movement” only to find disappointment in the end. Christian, don’t follow any movement or man other than Jesus and His movement. Jesus and His truth never disappoint. Suggestion for prayer Pray for your pastor, elders, and deacons. Pray selfish ambition would not spoil them. 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

March 1 – Introducing our study of Ecclesiastes 9-12

Earlier, my devotionals explored God’s message from Ecclesiastes chapters 1-7. The devotional meditations for March 2021 will continue our readings in Ecclesiastes, particularly Ecclesiastes chapters 9-12. Before we begin let’s remind ourselves of the author of Ecclesiastes, its overarching themes, and the general outline of the book. Solomon, by the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote this book. He is the son of David, king in Jerusalem (1:1, 16). The title means “the Preacher” or “one who assembles.” Solomon was an assembler of the people (12:9-11). Near the end of his life (around 930 BC), he assembled the people together to hear Ecclesiastes! Wisdom, joy, the fear of God, the sovereignty of God, and repentance are the overarching themes. Therefore, Ecclesiastes preaches Jesus to us. After all, Jesus is the wisdom and joy of God who sovereignly rules, and is the reason why people repent of sin to live life with meaning. Welcome back to Ecclesiastes “...but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” – 1 Peter 2:25b Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6; 12:9-14; 1 Peter 2:21-25 Ecclesiastes can be divided into four distinct sections. 1 – Chapters 1-2 Life without God is vanity. However, life lived in Christ brings meaning and joy. In God, wisdom, pleasure, knowledge, and possessions are gifts to enjoy for God’s glory. 2 – Chapters 3-5 The overarching theme is: God is sovereign over our lives. Our lot in life is His will for us (3:11a, 17b, 22; 5:2b, 18-19). 3 – Chapters 6-8 Life brings us face to face with tragedies. Solomon speaks about evil and the wicked (6:1,2, 7:15, 17, 25; 8:3,5, 8, 10-11, 13-14). However, God is sovereign over all and we do not always know why he allows what happens to us. (7:14, 25-29; 8:17). The conclusion to which God drives us is in chapter 8:10-17 – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. 4 – Chapters 9-12 This is the section we will study this month. Notice chapter 9:1. “But all this I laid to heart, examining it all.” “All this,” means all the breadth and depth of human life. All the awesome sovereign ways of God spoken of in chapter 1-8, he has lain to heart. Now he gives some concluding, “this-is-what-it-is-to-live-by-faith” points. These come from what he has said and drive us to confess the life of faith described in chapter 12:13-14. The conclusion is: live by faith in God, and though life is not always explainable, God can be trusted through it all…Christ is our One Shepherd to guide us so rejoice and live by his Word. Suggestions for prayer Pray we would examine life and understand we must live it by 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 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 21 – Christ’s sacrifice of His life and God’s mission

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father - John 14:9 Scripture reading: Luke 4:1-13 Having identified with Israel when He was baptized by John and having been anointed with the Spirit when He rose from the water of His baptism, Jesus continued to identify with Israel by offering the Father the sacrifice of His life, through the Holy Spirit as Israel’s substitute and representative. This began by His being led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days where He was tempted by the devil with regard to His relationship with Himself, the world and God. In being tempted for forty days in the desert, He is repeating, in Himself, Israel’s temptation in the desert for forty years and Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. However, where Adam and Eve and Israel failed, Christ, as the faithful Adam and true Israel, passed the devil’s temptations in the power of the Spirit. Having passed the devil’s temptations in the power of the Spirit where Adam, Eve and Israel had failed to pass them, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the coming kingdom of heaven in the power of the Spirit, and demonstrated this by healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead in the power of the Spirit. Moreover, He perfectly kept and embodied the law of love in the power of the Spirit. As such, Jesus participated in His Father’s mission for His glory and made His Father visible on earth by surrendering His life to His Father and thankfully offering Him the sacrifice of His life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of love for you and that what Jesus has done for you He now wants to do in you through His Holy Spirit as you put Him on through faith and abide in Him. 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 13 – God’s mission and the failure of his covenant with Israel 

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. - 1 Samuel 8:7 Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 8 As God predicted, the failure to keep His covenant, soon became a reality in the Promised Land. Not only did Israel fail to drive out all the Canaanites, their life soon resembled the life of the Canaanites. Repeatedly, we read, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, Who brought them out of Egypt. They went after and bowed down to other gods, from among the gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:11-12). By the end of the book of Judges, Israel became like the nations and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. We see the same failure when Israel demands a king like all the nations. Although when God made His second covenant with Abraham, he promised that kings would come forth from His descendants (Genesis 17:6, 16), Israel demands a king. They reject God as their king. When God grants Saul as Israel’s first king, Saul also rejects God as his king. Because he rejects God as king, God rejects him as king. This constant failure to keep God’s covenant leads to the bankruptcy or failure of God’s covenants with Israel. This, in turn, leads to the uncertainty of whether God can still use Israel in His mission for His glory by bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations and making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you whether you are serving any other gods in your life. If you are, ask Him for forgiveness and renewal of 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 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

February 5 – The blood of the covenant and God’s mission

And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” - Exodus 24:8 Scripture reading: Exodus 24:1-8 Keeping God’s covenant as His treasured possession that functions as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, will involve Israel keeping God’s commandments and statutes (Exodus 20-23). To impress upon the people His holiness and the required holiness of living in His presence, God manifests Himself to them in a powerful display of His majesty and holiness (Exodus 19:16-25). When Israel keeps God’s covenant in this way, she will not only increasingly learn what participating in God’s mission for His glory entails, she would also concretely bear witness to the surrounding nations what that involves.  Essentially, it involves a life of love, living for others as God lives for others (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s covenant with Israel is formally ratified in Exodus 24. After telling them all of God’s commandments and statutes, the people agreed to keep them. Having offered sacrifices to God, Moses threw some of the blood of the sacrifices on the altar, symbolizing God’s presence, and some of the people, symbolizing their willingness to participate in God’s mission for His glory. The people again repeat their commitment to be God’s treasured possession by being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation through keeping God’s covenant. In doing so, they formally agree to be God’s means to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by being a people and a place where heaven and earth meet because they bear witness to the glory of God’s perfect life by living a life of love, i.e. Living for the other. Suggestions for prayer When you publicly professed your faith, you publicly promised to participate in God’s mission for His glory. Ask your heavenly Father to help you keep your commitment. 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 28 – God is unchangeable

For I am the LORD, I do not change: therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. - Mal 3:6 Scripture reading: Mal 3:1-7a God does not change, that is God in His being is never increasing or decreasing. His being, attributes and will are unchanging. Coming closer to the end of this month, we are confronted with ongoing change. What a comfort to know that everything about God never changes! God is completely dependable; He is stable like a Rock, while we are more like the ever-changing waters of the ocean. A.W. Pink shows how comforting this really is, "However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not." If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But all praise to His glorious name. He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will is stable and His word is sure." And what is even more comforting, is that when we are in Christ by faith, our salvation doesn't change either! Malachi shows that despite the fickleness and fraud of God's people, God is faithfully and patiently inviting their repentance; that's why they are not consumed. James, in 1:17, shows that every truly good gift comes from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning. We all know shadows are turning all the time as our planet keeps moving, but God never changes.  Through Christ alone, THE greatest Gift of all, God provides true stability for our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His unchanging character and wonderful dependability. Pray that knowing Him as such would translate in great and unwavering trust and stability in our lives. 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 20 – God is merciful

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. – Micah 7:18 Scripture reading: Micah 7:14-20 Micah the prophet, was called to expose the sins of the people. As a good lawyer, Micah thoroughly prosecuted the people of God on the Lord's behalf. He confronted their despicable sins: fraud, hypocrisy, greed, injustice, extortion and lying. But as is often the case, God's people did not want to budge. He tells them judgment will come if they persist! Yet, Micah does not leave God's people hopeless. In the last verses of his prophecy, he focuses their attention on God. He reminds the people by asking a rhetorical question, "Who is a God like You?!" If you come and confess your sin and humble yourselves before the Lord, know there is no God like ours! He pardons iniquity. He passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage. To those who truly know Him through faith and ongoing repentance, He does not retain His anger forever! He forgives like no one and nothing else! Completely and comprehensively! Why? Because our God delights in mercy! He is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. He keeps His side of the covenant, even when His people break their side of the covenant, by their wicked sins! They may return, trusting that He is not stingy, nor reluctant but happy, delighting to forgive their sins. Why? Because of what Jesus did on the cross. It pleased God to bruise Him, and delight in mercy towards repentant sinners. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He, for Christ's sake, delights in mercy. And let's be humbly grateful that God found pleasure in bruising His precious Son, in order to show us how expensive mercy really is to Him. 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....

Daily devotional

January 13 – God is wise

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. – Daniel 2:20b Scripture reading: Daniel 2:14-23 Yesterday, we considered that God knows all things perfectly. But there is more to God's knowledge.  He uses His perfect knowledge of everything for the very best purposes, with the very best means possible, for His greatest glory and our greatest good! That is His wisdom! 100% trustworthy! The Lord makes His knowledge and wisdom available to us. He did so with Daniel so that lives would be spared and the king's dream could be explained. It brought Daniel to humble adoration, for the Lord is the Source of all wisdom! God's wisdom is not only seen in how He governs the world and upholds creation, but especially in how He designed His marvellous plan of salvation! Who could ever have thought about a world like ours? But even more so, who could ever have thought about a plan of salvation in which both justice and mercy are fully satisfied, and wretched sinners are saved to the uttermost? What unfathomable wisdom it is that the cross, (which is considered foolishness by many, and a stumbling block to others), is the place where God shows His wisdom, by crucifying Christ, God's Wisdom, in order to save fools! Truly, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the wisest person on earth! (1 Corinthians 1:20-31). Let us, like Daniel, adore God's breath-taking wisdom wherever we see it in His creation, in His providence and most of all in His wonderful salvation! Let us trust His wisdom, even when we don't understand it. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His wisdom, especially for the wisdom shown in the Gospel. Also, pray for the grace to trust His Wisdom especially in times when you don't understand what He is doing 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 12 – God is all-knowing

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! - Psalm 139:17 Scripture reading: Psalm 139:11-24 We finite creatures never stop learning, unless we are too proud to learn anything new. But think about it, "There is no limit to what God knows, and there is nothing He needs to learn!" The Psalmist shows us that dark and light do not make a difference to God. Nothing escapes His knowledge. For Him, the night shines as the day! He does not only know the universe in its endless complexity, the greatest marvel is that He knows us! When you and I were created and formed, nothing escaped His attention. He knew us in the most perfect way. When His Almighty power shaped our unformed substance, there was nothing that escaped His attention. Indeed, How great is the sum of God's thoughts! God's knowledge of us, should make us honest and repentant before God, like the Psalmist, who says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart… and see if there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting." Let's never forget, He knows what you do at school, at your job, whether doors are open or closed, whether you are behind your screen, or behind another machine. He even knows your and my thoughts, anxieties and sins. He knows us, sees us, even when we might think nobody sees us. This is only comforting to us when we know and trust Christ's saving power and Christ's knowledge of us. Then we say, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!" Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His thoughts toward you, that He knows you. Pray you may learn more of His thoughts toward you in Christ, and that His thoughts might become ever more marvelous and precious to 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 7 – God is eternal

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. – 2 Peter 3:8 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:1-13 God lives in an eternal present! For God, there is no past or future. He knows our yesterdays in the same way He knows our tomorrows. Peter reminds us that one day with God is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. He not only knows everything in His eternal present, He exists in this eternal present. He cannot be captured in terms of our time. He is the great I AM! Time began to exist when He created us. Before that, there was no time. Mind-boggling! Amazingly, He still gives us time to repent and trust in His Son, offering us eternal life! When we do not use our time to repent of our sins, we face the eternal fire of hell. There, those who refused to serve God will face His eternal wrath. Eternal death will not only feel like slow time, just as going through suffering always seems to take long, but worse, it will never end. What mercy that God still calls sinners to repentance, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! When we do repent, or have done so, we may be certain that our times are in His hands. That's why Peter also writes about the promised new heaven and earth upon which righteousness dwells. What hope we have in Christ! We will enjoy God's favourable presence forever! Believer, what bliss awaits us! Suggestions for prayer Let us thank and praise the Lord for the promise of eternal life through Christ. Let us also intercede for the unsaved, realizing that they are awaiting eternal misery unless they repent. 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 6 – God is self-existent

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:36 Scripture reading: Romans 11:33-12:2 When Paul stood on the Areopagus and spoke to the Athenians, he showed them that God is self-existent. He told them that He doesn't live in a temple made with hands, nor is He worshipped by us as though He needs something. In other words, Paul showed that God has never ever been in need! When He created us and the world, it did not change God in His essence. He doesn't need us. This humbles us and when we understand this, it also puts us in our rightful place. Paul shows in Romans 11, that God is the source of all things; all things are of Him, that is, created by Him. Secondly, all things are through Him; He is the means by which everything comes into being. And all things are to Him; that means, He is the goal of everything in this world. In other words, everything originates in God, was made by God, and is to manifest His glory. In light of God's self-existence,  we realize that we cannot twist God's arm. He doesn't need us, we need Him! It makes us realize how different God is from us, especially when we stare our own puniness and neediness in the face. Therefore, this God comes to us today and calls us with the Athenians and every man everywhere to repent! Why? Don't we too often proudly think that we can do without this God or that we are self-sufficient while only God is? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for needing nothing, not even us. Repent from every form of pride and self-sufficiency. Pray for greater dependency on Him and humility toward Him. 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 5 – God is transcendent

The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high? – Psalm 113:4-5 Scripture reading: Psalm 113 God is transcendent. You might wonder what that means. It means that God exists above and independent from anything and everything in our universe. In our text, it says, "He is above the nation; and the heavens; there is no God like Him, who dwells on High!" God is transcendent, that means He is exalted above everything. When we learn that God is transcendent, we realize that God should be worshipped with reverence and godly fear! We should not worship Him flippantly, but rather with great respect for Him, because He is so far beyond us and anything created which we see around us. God is transcendent, and yet we marvel that God is not unconcerned about His creatures and His creation!  He is also immanent, being very close to and caring for His creatures, especially for His own. Psalm 113 shows this very clearly. On the one hand, God is high, exalted, above and beyond anything and everything. Think about it: God even has to humble Himself to see the things that are taking place on this earth! And yet, as He humbles Himself, He looks in compassion on His creatures, raising the poor from the dust, lifting the needy out of the ash heap and granting motherhood to the barren. This is our God! Gloriously transcendent, yet preciously immanent, because of our Savior Jesus, Who came close to us when He dwelt among us. Praise the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is above everything and anything else, yet, that He is so gracious to humble Himself to see our need. Thank Him especially for sending His Son to show that He is near.  Pray for His nearness to you 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 4 – God is triune

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen. – 2 Corinthians 13:14 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:13-17 The fact that God is Triune, is strictly speaking not an attribute. However, we cannot know God properly when we don't understand that God is Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet truly One God. Our minds again are stretched when we think about God as Three and yet One. We often distinguish His blessed Persons, for instance, when we say that the Father chose His people from eternity, the Son came and redeemed sinners like us by living, dying and rising from the dead, and that the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us, changing and transforming us. And yet, these three Persons are One God! Salvation is of the One, Only True and Triune God! When we think about and pray to, or meditate about God, it is easier to do so One Person at a time. But an important question to ponder is, "How should we understand God's Tri-unity?" Jonathan Edwards, a great Puritan theologian, probably understood this best. This is what he believed about the Trinity: God the Father is God in an absolute manner, while the Son is generated by God's self-understanding or idea about Himself, and the Holy Spirit is His infinite love that freely flows to Himself. How glorious God is! He knows Himself perfectly in His Son, and He loves Himself perfectly in the Holy Spirit! And this is the God Who has been pleased to love and know us through His Son, in the powerful love of the Holy Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being Triune, relational in Himself, knowing and loving Himself. Pray that you may know Him better and love Him more, as your loving Father, blessed Savior, in the satisfying fellowship of His Holy Spirit. 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

December 30 – Till the end

For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:14 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3 What is the greatest blessing you received in 2020? The list is long: health, strength, the love of family and friends, food on the table and on it goes. At the top of the list must be all that you share in Christ: forgiveness, peace with God, hope for the future, life eternal. This was the blessing experienced by the Hebrew Christians, and by God's grace, we experience it too. Our text tells us there is a necessary condition, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. Good starts are great, but they are not enough. God calls us to persevere in faith to the end. This year may have started well for you. During the year there were challenges, difficulties and victories, but how are you ending the year? The Lord calls upon you to live up to your Christian duty, to live by faith as a covenant keeper, not just for a day, not just for a week, but to the end. We enjoy the sweet blessings of the Lord, if we hold fast to Him by faith. Even though not much seems firm and secure in today's world, let us hold firm by faith to our unchanging God. May that be your testimony, from first to last you dedicate yourself to the Lord. The end of another year is nearly here and the Lord has seen you through. Hold firm. Never waver. Never compromise the truth. Christian, hold firm to the end of not just another year, but of all your earthly journey! Suggestions for prayer Seek the upholding and guiding power of the Holy Spirit to keep you, your loved ones, and your church firm in the faith now and in the days ahead. Give thanks for all the blessings received in 2020. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 29 – Not one forsaken

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.... – Psalm 37:25a Scripture reading: Psalm 37:23-34 David begins this verse with reflection on the passing of time. How it flies! David was once a young shepherd boy. The time passed. As a teenager he slew the giant Goliath. More years went by. He became king and reigned 40 years in Jerusalem. Now he had become an old man. David, under God's inspiration, turned his mind to the past, and with wisdom he reflected on God's goodness to him and his people. He declared that he had not seen the righteous forsaken. Had not David seen times of trouble and anxiety? Of course he had. He had been persecuted by wicked King Saul. His son, Absalom, had rebelled against him. He experienced many trials. Yet, in all of this, as he looked back, David knew in his heart that the Lord had always been with him to uphold and protect him. Not once had the Lord forsaken him! As you look back on 2020, what are your memories? Oh yes, we all can remember struggles with sin, times of stress and problems that troubled us. As God's child, however, find strength in the words of our text, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken." With eyes of faith see that God has been with you every day of 2020, to give you spiritual strength, peace, pardon, and the guidance of His Word and Spirit, all that you needed. God has been with you every step of life's way in the past and He will be with you each day in times ahead. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to bless you with the wisdom you need to reflect upon the year past and recognize His love and care. Seek the assurance of faith that God will guide you in the future. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 28 – The time has come

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. – John 4:23 Scripture reading: John 4:7-26 The Samaritan woman lived in ignorance and sin. When Jesus arrived at Jacob's well, He had compassion on her and impressed upon her that the hour is now here. The time had come to seek fellowship with God, but not only for her. Here, the Lord is telling, not just the Samaritan woman, but also us, that it is the time for true worshipers to draw near to the Father through the saving work of His Son. Who are these true worshipers? They are those who worship in spirit and in truth. Those who worship in spirit offer to the Lord their inner being as a sacrifice of holiness. God has given you much time in 2020 to open your heart to the message of His Word. He has called you to holiness. Have you responded? Those who worship in truth, willingly leave behind their sinful human desires and opinions. Instead, they believe and obey the Word of the Lord, of which Jesus said, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Those who would draw near to God conform in heart, soul and life to the pure and full message of God's Word. Have you believed the truth? The end of an old year is a powerful reminder that time passes. The past is gone. In the present, God calls us to worship Him with praise, adoration and obedience. Before 2020 becomes history, may the Father see that you are a true worshiper. The hour has come for you to live before the Lord in spirit and in truth. Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom to seek and serve the Lord in spirit and truth. Ask that the experience of God's grace and mercy be yours before more time passes. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 27 – Christmas decoration

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. – Isaiah 53:2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 Many homes and churches are decorated at Christmas with beautiful plants. Poinsettias are pretty and popular. Christmas trees fill the air with fragrance. Are such decorative plants mentioned in the Bible? You know that the answer is “no.” The prophet Isaiah, however, does mention a plant in connection with the coming Messiah, The plant is not named. It is only described in our text as a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground. Through the words He gave to the prophet, God is teaching us that the birth of His Son was the start of the struggle of His ministry, the way a young plant struggles in dry ground. The beauty of Jesus Christ in His person and ministry was not outward. His was an inward beauty of soul, a majesty of the spirit. By earthly standards there was nothing to attract people to the Lord Jesus. Two days ago we celebrated Christmas. Who is Christ to you? What attracts you to Him? The glitter of Christmas decorations and majestic music bring some to a once-a-year service, but now that is over. For Christians, however, the true and lasting “decoration” at Christmas, spiritually speaking, is a struggling young plant, a root out of dry ground. It represents the suffering of the Lord, His humility, His willingness to offer Himself as our sacrifice. Jesus has come! Make sure that above all else you desire Him. May He alone be the focus of your heart and soul at worship this Lord's Day. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to work in the hearts of those who attended a Christmas service that they may respond to the Gospel. Give thanks for churches that focus on Christ and not on decorations. Be a living member of such a church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 22 – What child is this?

...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 God gave Isaiah a marvellous revelation about the Son He would send and did send in the fullness of time. What Child is this? He is the Wonderful Counsellor. A counsellor is to reconcile people, help settle differences, go between and draw people together. Jesus reconciles a lost humanity to the Father in heaven. He is our mediator and draws us into a blessed fellowship with the Lord (Romans 5). Even now He intercedes for us. He was born to be our Wonderful Counsellor. He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting (Son of the) Father. At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born a helpless babe in Bethlehem's stall. He shared the physical weakness of our humanity. Yet, Jesus is also the Son of God. It was only with divine power that Jesus could carry the wrath of God against sin through His life of suffering and especially at the cross. What Child is this? He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father's only begotten Son. He is the Prince of Peace. As the Son of God, Christ rules, governs and sustains all things. In the midst of a troubled world, He gives us the inner peace we desperately need. In the midst of our own personal cares and worries, He speaks to our hearts saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). What Child is this? He is the Prince of Peace. As you look forward to Christmas, ask yourself, "Whose birth am I celebrating? What Child is this... to me?” Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom to see with eyes of faith Whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the good news of Christ with others around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 21 – The purpose of Christmas

...emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.... therefore God has highly exalted him.... – Philippians 2:7-9 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 What is the purpose of Christmas? To stimulate the economy? To have a few days off at the end of the year? A good excuse for parties? Such would be the secular perspective. The Bible, however, states clearly a far different purpose. God sent His eternal Son into this world so that Jesus would fully share our humanity. It was a humbling experience for the Son of God. He emptied Himself. He was born in a stable. He came into this world as the Suffering Servant of the Lord. This was necessary. Our Saviour had to experience the full burden of human existence in order to be our perfect sacrifice. The result of all this, however, was amazing! Having accomplished His earthly ministry and having won salvation for us by His death and resurrection, now God has highly exalted him. The Saviour, Who first came into this world so humbly, is now at the Father's right hand. He is now in glory and He will return in majesty to judge the living and the dead. His ministry, which began in humility, will culminate in glory and honour. God grant that we, with all God's people, will reflect upon and believe the real purpose of Christmas. That purpose is to point us to the fullness of Jesus' work and ministry. It began with the Son of God emptying Himself in Bethlehem, taking the form of a servant in order to win our salvation. It will be fulfilled at Jesus' glorious return. Suggestions for prayer May it be the prayer of your heart that Jesus will return to us quickly. Ask the Lord to make the true purpose of Christmas known to you and those around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 20 – Jesus, the Man of Heaven

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. – I Corinthians 15:49 Scripture reading: I Corinthians 15:42-58 As we worship the Lord in church today, whom do we hope to meet? No doubt many a sermon will be preached on the incarnation and that is most appropriate. There is no end to blessing when we reflect on the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Still, the fact is that Jesus is no longer and has not been for nearly two millennia, a baby lying in a manger. Today at church we are to have sweet fellowship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord's Day is the Day of Resurrection. Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate, rose from the dead. The crucified One is the Lord of life. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the Father's right hand. That is Who we meet at worship, the man of heaven. What a blessing! We children of Adam and Eve, have in Christ a most wonderful future. In glory we shall bear the image of God, restored and made perfect. May our faithful worship, our careful listening to the Word of God read and preached, bring to our souls all the riches of the full Gospel story. Christ was born to be the Lord of life. By accomplishing His ministry, Jesus, the risen Lord, won for us the victory! Let us now seek to bear the image of the man of heaven. We do so by living a Christian life, as we follow our Master and serve Him now and for all eternity. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by worshipping the Lord today your heart will be filled with the joy and hope that those who believe receive from the risen Lord. Ask the Spirit to work within you that you may more and more bear the image of the man of heaven. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 19 – Christ’s suffering

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. – I Peter 4:1 Scripture reading: I Peter 4:1-11 For most people, Christmas is a happy time of year. Yes, there are those who are lonely, struggling or sad, but for the majority it would seem to be a festive, joyful season. Secular people are happy with their parties and presents. Christians find joy in the Gospel message of peace on earth; good will towards men (Luke 2:14). Today let us give a thought for the Lord Jesus Himself. He was born to be the Lord's suffering servant. His task was to carry our sin all the way to the cross, where He died in agony, the righteous for the unrighteous. The Apostle Peter calls this to our attention in our text, where his inspired words declare, "Christ suffered in the flesh." The holy Son of God took on human flesh in order to suffer for us in the flesh. Now the Apostle calls upon you to live as a Christian, as one who by faith has ceased from the condemnation of sin, by sharing the same way of thinking. We are to live a sacrificial life for Christ, Who suffered so to redeem us. Let us come to Christ, who suffered as the Lamb of God and let us have in our hearts the desire and intention to follow Him in a life of sacrifice, so that we can sing with the hymn writer Charlotte Elliot: Just as I am: poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind Yea all I need, in Thee to find O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal to you more and more the ways in which you can, in thankfulness, offer to Him your whole self as a sacrifice of praise. Offer a prayer of gratitude to the Saviour, Who suffered so to save you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 14 – Refusing Christ, refusing life

Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:40 Scripture reading: John 5:30-47 Christmas is a time of year when many, who rarely darken the door of a church, will attend a special program or service. Although the number of outright skeptics, unbelievers and atheists grows ever larger in the western world, there are still many who think that a once-a-year appearance in church at Christmas is more than enough to satisfy their religious obligations. They come to church, but do not come to Jesus in faith and obedience. Most of us, I hope, were in church yesterday. Is there a warning that we religious people should take from our text? Yes. We can be outwardly religious: attending church services, living a moral life, even reading a daily devotional at home and yet we can be in spiritual danger if in our heart we refuse to come to Christ in sincere, humble faith. How can we get that faith? How can we build it up? We must come to Jesus through the means He has given us. We must search the Scriptures, studying the Bible with a believing heart. We must take to heart what we hear proclaimed from the pulpit by faithful ministers of the Word. To know a bit about the message of the Scriptures, but not to know the Christ revealed by the Scriptures is fatal. Many may attend a Christmas program, but not come to Christ in faith. Let us personally and at church search the Scriptures, believe the message and receive the blessing of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that, by careful use of the means of grace and by faithful personal devotions, you will come to faith in Jesus Christ and that your faith may grow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 13 – Powerful trust

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. – Psalm 20:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 20 Whom do you trust? This morning, as you drive to church, many of you will drive through a green light without a second thought because you trust that others will stop at the red light on the cross street. David knew that many of his enemies trusted in the power of chariots and horses to gain a victory. Things don't always work out that way. Careless drivers go through a red light and cause a crash. Military leaders trust in the latest technology, but that does not guarantee a victory. As a believer, David could declare by the Spirit's inspiration, "We trust in the name of the Lord our God." May that declaration be ours also! Today at worship, we will take the name of the Lord upon our lips as we sing and pray. We will hear a sermon in which the name of the Lord will be spoken. God grant that it be no empty formality. May it be a real expression of our trust. Just before Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). A wholehearted faith in Jesus is the most powerful trust you can have because Jesus is the only Saviour. In Him we find all things necessary for our salvation. The Son of God alone is faithful and able to protect us, surround us with divine care, bestow forgiveness and eternal life. Yes! Trust in Jesus is the most powerful trust of all. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to bless you and those who worship with you today with increasing trust in the Saviour, Whom He sent into the world, Jesus. Pray for a blessing upon the preaching of the Word. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 12 – The Christmas witness

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. – Luke 2:20 Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-20 If the angels had never appeared, if no message had been given, the shepherds would have just stayed with their sheep out in the hills. They would never have realized the miracle that took place in the City of David that night. By the plan and providence of God, however, the shepherds were chosen to hear the message and they shared in the Christmas event because God's message was revealed to them. After witnessing all that took place, the shepherds returned to their task; they went back to their flocks. Here is a lesson for us. After all the celebrations of this season, at last, we will go back to our usual tasks and activities. How will we go? The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. The shepherds reacted to what they had witnessed with joy and praise. What a wonderful testimony! At the close of the Christmas season, after attending worship and special services, we will be truly blessed if we return to our daily work with a similar response. When we take God at His Word, believe the Christmas message and give God the glory, we will be blessed. May that be your response. What a witness that gives to your family, friends and neighbours! Praise the Lord with your lips and lives, as you return to your daily tasks, to your calling and right there, where God has placed you, be a witness by glorifying and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born to be our Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the joy of the Christmas message will be lasting in your heart and life. Ask the Lord to guide your celebrations in such a way that they will be a witness for Christ Jesus to all around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 11 – The Christmas light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 How dreary these dark December nights would be without all the glowing Christmas lights! The bright lights are an appropriate symbol at Christmas and the Apostle John calls this to our attention in our text. Jesus is the Light shining in the darkness. Human hearts and this world are dark with sin. Worldly people, deceived by Satan, see everything as grey. They dismiss personal sin as small mistakes and try to ignore its brutal power. Enlightened by Scripture, Christians can see that this world is in utter darkness and human hearts are by nature in complete darkness without Christ. The joy of Christmas is that God sent His Son to shine in the darkness. Though sin, Satan, the world and the evil filling human hearts are deadly strong, the power of the light of Christ is far stronger, and the darkness has not overcome it. Reflect on the spiritual assessment of our text, namely, that the world and our own sin cannot frustrate the work of Christ, our Saviour, sent by God the Father to fill the hearts of His people with the joy of spiritual light showing us the way to salvation. Instructed by God's Word, let us flee the darkness and come to the Light which will never cease to shine. As we see the Christmas lights glow all around us, let us lift up our hearts to the one, true Light, our divine Saviour, whose birth we celebrate. Jesus was born to set us free from darkness, born to give us the light of life! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to shed the light of His Word, the light of the saving power of His Son upon your path of life. Pray for strength to walk each day in that light. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 6 – What will you get?

And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him.  I Kings 5:12 Scripture reading: I Kings 5 Sometimes parents promise children a certain Christmas present, but cannot deliver. Popular toys can become unobtainable. It happens. People break promises and not just small ones. Sacred promises, vows of marriage or profession of faith, are broken by some and it hurts families and churches. If the Lord God promises something, however, He will give it! Our text speaks to us of the promise of God to Solomon, the gift of wisdom. God kept His promise and that was fine for Solomon, but what about us? In James 1:5-7 the Lord promises to give wisdom to those who turn to Him today. How we need this precious gift! If we are going to resist the devil, if we are going to contend for the faith, if we are going to make good decisions in life, then we need wisdom. Today, the Lord's Day, seek divine blessings and gifts by trusting God's promises and by living in obedience. You have the opportunity to seek the Lord and all that He promises in public worship. Do not neglect this! The Lord promises His blessings to those who sincerely seek and worship Him, and His promises never fail. That is the comforting message of our text, "the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him." Receiving the gift of wisdom is far better than any material Christmas present you might get. Seek wisdom then where it is to be found, including attending public worship at church, and the Lord will surely give it. That is God's promise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that all who attend worship today will give full attention to the Scripture readings, the preaching, the prayers, indeed all aspects of worship that they may gain, as a gift of God, the wisdom to live for Jesus in faith and obedience. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 5 – Get ready

And Mary said, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38 Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 The world gets ready for Christmas with a rush of parties and presents. We see a different picture in our Scripture reading. Mary was told by the Archangel Gabriel that by a miracle she would be with child and that child would be the Messiah. Hearing that, she made herself ready with a humble spirit of service. “I am the servant of the Lord,” she said. She was not the giver of the gift. It was God Who gave His Son. Mary's task was to serve the Lord by becoming the virgin mother of God's Son. We see Mary's humble spirit of acceptance. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” What God asked of her was difficult to comprehend and could bring disgrace upon her, because Joseph and the people of Nazareth would be hard-pressed to understand. Yet, with trust and faith, she accepted the Lord's will and readied her heart. All of us are getting ready for Christmas. No doubt you have been busy buying presents and planning family celebrations. There are special programs that require much time and effort. Let us not, however, become overpowered by the world's Christmas rush. We are called to serve the Lord and make our hearts ready to receive Him in a spirit of humble service and acceptance of His will. May your response to the Lord be, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that God's Spirit will instill within you a spirit of service and acceptance of God's will. Ask that such a spirit will help you to prepare for worship tomorrow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 4 – A light for the nations

I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. – Isaiah 49:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 49:1-7 Isaiah often speaks prophetically of the Servant of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 49, God promises that Servant of the Lord, " I will make you as a light for the nations." Jesus came to be that light, not just for the people of His day, or for God's Old Testament people, but for all the nations! That word “light” stands for Christ's redeeming work, the eternal plan of God to build a church from among all the peoples of this world. That is why God sent His Son. Praise God that the message of salvation has gone out in our own day to the end of the earth! The good news has reached far and wide and includes you who are reading this devotional. We must remember, however, that the good tidings of great joy must reach all peoples. May this vital aspect of Christmas remind us to shine with light, reflecting the perfect light of Christ Jesus. Christmas is often a time when unbelievers are more receptive to listen to the Gospel. Do your part in sharing the light of Christ with those near and dear to you. Remember our responsibility to support the cause of missions. There are many opportunities, but often not enough resources. Led by His Word and Spirit, let us be faithful in our personal witness and in our support of missions. May the Gospel light shine brightly to the ends of the earth, so that from among all the peoples, God's elect will be gathered in. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to provide you with opportunities to share the light of Christ with those around you in a meaningful way. Uphold missionaries at home and abroad with your prayers and financial support. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....