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

December 12 - The star of Jacob

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” - Numbers 24:17  Scripture reading: Numbers 24:12-19 Balaam’s role in the Bible is memorable and filled with irony. Many will mainly remember the talking donkey who saves Balaam’s life. But the talking donkey was only a tiny preview of greater irony that was to come. Balaam was known as a diviner, wizard or fortune-teller of some kind. He claimed to be a spokesman for God, but his ways were perverse (Numbers 22:32). He “loved the wages of unrighteousness” and devised a plan to lure the children of Israel into wickedness (2 Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14). Balaam, as a “diviner for hire,” could hardly be expected to be reliable. Yet, though he was an unlikely speaker, God used Balaam to pronounce only beautiful blessings on Israel. One of these prophecies was that far in the future, “…a Star would come out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” A star was the sign of the birth of a great King (Matthew 2:2), and the sceptre was the rod that was a symbol of His power. Balaam was foreseeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and even preaching the hope of His coming kingdom! There is in this event a double hope in the end, first that the Lord can use enemies to bless His people abundantly. Second, no matter how evil some in this world are, they cannot deny the coming of Christ. He has come and He now rules over all things, even all of the nations! (1 Peter 3:22).  Suggestion for prayer Pray for wisdom to see that God even uses evil and influential people to bless His children. 

Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel.

Daily devotional

December 7 - Saviour of many 

“...as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” - Genesis 50:20 Scripture reading: Genesis 50:15-21 In the Old Testament, the people of Israel often found themselves in trouble. There were famines, plagues, wars and exiles. In these times of crisis, however, God repeatedly raised up saviors for His people. There were great leaders who ruled wisely or fought battles with courage.  The first of these “national” saviors was Joseph. An unlikely candidate, Joseph was a younger brother and disliked by his siblings. His brothers were so evil that they even sold him into slavery, to be taken into a far-away land. Then, things got even worse for Joseph: he was falsely accused and thrown in prison! Yet the Lord blessed him and made him a wise counselor and an interpreter of dreams. Joseph eventually became the prime minister of Egypt, preparing that nation for a famine. His wisdom was used so that his own family could be provided with food! His brothers, however, began to fear Joseph. They expected that after their father died, now-powerful Joseph might take revenge. But Joseph understood that God meant his trials for good so that he could save his family. God had taught him, and was now teaching his brothers, that they needed a savior. They needed one who would suffer for them and have wisdom that was greater than theirs. They needed a savior who could feed them and "save many people alive." What a privilege it is to know the Saviour Who went to a lower place than Joseph did for sinners, Who is perfectly merciful and patient, and Who nourishes our souls! Suggestion for prayer Pray for grace and patience to forgive those that have wronged you in the past. Pray for the wisdom to see that God’s difficult providences will work for the good of His people. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 6 - God will provide

“Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”” - Genesis 22:8  Scripture reading: Genesis 22:1-24 Abraham and Sarah had waited decades for a son. Though they had been led by the Lord and blessed with possessions, the future seemed bleak without an heir. Yet Abraham believed in the Lord’s covenant promises (Genesis 15:6), and in due time they were blessed with the birth of Isaac. He filled their home with joy, but then that difficult day of Abraham’s testing came. God said to him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2). Obediently, Abraham set out, even leaving early in the morning! It seems unthinkable for us; how could a father sacrifice his son? But Abraham went with faith in his heart. He trusted God’s promises that Isaac would be his heir. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham had concluded: “...that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” Abraham walked up that mountain because he had faith, faith that God would preserve his son, confidence in the Resurrection and the Life. He had faith that God would provide a substitute. By his obedience, Abraham proved that he had the same faith that we are called to: faith that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the Lamb of God. Many people have a deep sense of guilt; they think they need to sacrifice to cover their sins. Christ, however, has been provided as the perfect substitute for sinners! Suggestion for prayer Pray for forgiveness for sins of unbelief and for strong faith as you face trials or tests. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 5 - The comfort of rest

“...he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.”” - Genesis 5:29  Scripture reading: Genesis 8:1-22 Although Genesis 5 is only a few pages into the Bible, we see what a mess the world had already become! Violence and vengeance had multiplied. Minds and hearts were filled with wickedness. It was hard work to survive. In the middle of this cursed world, however, some believers called on the name of the LORD (Gen. 4:26).  There was a line of fathers and sons who feared God. One was Enoch, who walked with God. We can see that Enoch’s grandson Lamech also trusted the LORD, because he prophetically named his son Noah. Noah means “rest.” In the middle of a world of sin and fearsome violence, Lamech hoped that God would use Noah to bring rest. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). He would build the ark for the flood that would wash the world. His household would be preserved (Hebrews 11:7). When they stepped off of the ark after the flood, they would be safe from the wicked hordes that used to roam the earth.  The reality, however, was that even a gigantic flood was not enough to fix the world’s problem with sin. Noah, and his sons, would still be sinners. Even building a massive ark could not save them from themselves. Lamech’s ultimate hope would be fulfilled in his descendant, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ promise was, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Those that believe in Jesus Christ have entered His rest! (Hebrews 4:3).  Suggestion for prayer Pray for Christians who struggle in a world of temptations and threats, that they would find rest in Christ and that households would be set apart. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 4 - The seed promise

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” - Genesis 3:15  Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1-20 Genesis 3 recounts the first-ever missionary journey. Adam and Eve were desperately needy, aware of their nakedness and guilt. Though they are polluted by sin and worthy of death, God came to seek them out. There is great hope in this visit. Do we consider enough, how much His seeking and speaking show mercy? The words that God says are difficult and the curses He pronounces are sobering. But there is also much hope here! There is the promise that Seed will be born, a Child will come, and He will crush the head of Satan. The cause of their sin, and all their problems, will one day be conquered by a Saviour. Sometimes this verse is called the “proto-evangelion,” which means it is like a prototype of the gospel. It is a simple hope: a Descendant will come to conquer evil. Beyond this good news, at the end of the visit, God made Adam and Eve tunics of skin and clothed them. Though Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they left with gospel hope in their hearts and a covering for their shame. Today we know that these hopes have been fulfilled in Christ. We have the entire message of the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55-56). He covers sins! (Romans 4:7). Let us rejoice that the Saviour has come and look forward to His return when He will have the final victory! Suggestion for prayer Pray for missions and that the church would be faithful in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth. Pray that you would be ready to give a “...reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

November 29 - Containment not destruction

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” - Romans 6:11-12  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 13:10-25 Joash could have completely destroyed the Syrians if he had only struck the ground five or six times. Elisha had told him that the arrow signified victory. Joash was not availing himself of the promises of God. Evidently, he had more arrows. He wasn’t eager to destroy the Syrians; for some reason he was content to have them contained. Before we blast him for such foolishness, consider that that isn’t unlike how we often are. We live sub-par lives because we don’t avail ourselves of all the resources God has offered us. He has told us that sin will not have dominion over us since we are not under law, but under grace. He has told us that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Why then, are we still content to serve sin? Why don’t we finish with those life dominating sins that only lead to death? Why do we go back to drunkenness or pornography or greed or self-centredness? Why not strike them down and make an end of them? Is it because we have foolishly befriended our enemies and are loath to be completely free from them? May God have mercy on us! Thankfully King Jesus completely destroyed the enemy. He was tempted to make concessions, but He didn’t. In the power of the Spirit, He was valiant, even when the enemy’s destruction meant His own death. Trust in Christ for His victory and in God for His promised strength to put our enemy to flight. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the victory of Christ in His death and resurrection. Pray that we would know the resources God has promised us in Christ and be eager to destroy remaining sin in our lives. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 28 - The assembly assembled

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly1 of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” - Hebrews 12:22-24  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 What a day of rejoicing that will be! The saints of God from all times and places gathered in one multitude in the presence of God and the Lamb, lifting up their hearts and voices in loud cries that adore the God of our salvation. What a day of rejoicing that will be! Our weekly worship is a foretaste of that and we should experience it as heaven on earth. It is a microcosm of heavenly worship. We gather with the saints in the presence of God to declare His glory. Of course, the saints are not yet the saints made perfect. Of course, our worship is still tainted by sin. Of course, our vision of God in all His Triune glory is still not as sharp as it will be. After all, we now see by faith; then, by sight. Of course, we come to corporate worship from lives that are marred by living in this sin-cursed world. What we experience each Lord’s Day is not exactly what we will experience. However, it is the closest experience we have to what the saints will one day experience when Christ returns in all His glory. That should make us cherish the weekly assembly of the saints. That our experience now differs from what we shall experience then, should make us long for the coming again of our Saviour when He will finally usher us into the presence of God and say, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the joy of corporate worship. Remember in prayer the saints scattered throughout the world who will one day be gathered together with us before the throne of God. Pray that the Lord Jesus may come quickly so that we may worship God in perfection. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 27 - Judgement!

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” - Revelation 6:9-10  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 9-10 These chapters don’t make for easy reading. We might feel we need to apologize for God, but it is better to understand than to be embarrassed by it. These events fall out according to His Word. Why did God ordain such a severe judgement? It is important to note that those who are judged are judged justly. They were Baal worshippers like Ahab, his wife and sons. They did evil in the eyes of the Lord and some were prophets of Baal who sought to turn God’s people away from the Lord. We also note that this slaughter is the outflow of God’s love for His own. He avenges the blood of His children. Note 2 Kings 9:21 where Jehu meets Joram at the property of Naboth, the righteous man killed by Ahab. Judgement followed His patience. It had been years since judgement was announced against Ahab’s family. There was ample opportunity for them to repent. They squandered God’s mercy and ripened themselves for God’s wrath. Jehu was God’s agent of judgement, but even he did not walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart. Christ, the King, is greater than Jehu. He served the Lord with all His heart and carried out the judgement of God with His shed blood. Not judgement against His enemies, but judgement for His enemies. That is the first part of Christ’s ministry. After years of patience He will tread the winepress of God’s wrath. Be sure that you have sworn allegiance to Him as your Sovereign and Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a sense of the seriousness of His judgement. Thank Him for the willingness of Christ to be condemned in our place.  Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 26 - A weeping prophet

“And when drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on his day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”” - Luke 19:41-42  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15 In 2 Kings 1, the Israelite king inquires of a pagan god about his chances of recovery; here a pagan king inquires of the man of God if he will recover from his sickness. How shameful when the world is more godly than the Church. And it often is. Patients who are unbelievers treat hospital staff with kindness and the believer in the same situation is demanding, impatient and critical. Shameful. Hazael asks Elisha whether his king, Ben-hadad, is going to recover. He is told that Ben-hadad is going to recover from his sickness, but that he is certainly going to die. This enigmatic statement means that in the normal course of events the sickness was not fatal. However, Hazael’s assassination attempt was going to be fatal. He would become king and terrorize Israel. Elisha knew that the judgement was deserved. That’s why he announces it. But notice that he also weeps because of the destruction that is going to come. Elisha, the prophet of the Lord, foreshadows Christ in both ways. We have domesticated the Lord Jesus and made Him tame. But remember, He is the One Who will say to many on that day, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ But Christ also weeps over the sentence of judgement. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but delights in mercy. Rather than destroying sinners, He would rather be destroyed, taking the sins of His people to Himself and to the cross. Doesn’t this attract you to the Saviour? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the loving compassion of Christ for sinners who deserve the condemnation that Christ took upon Himself. Ask the Lord that we would show compassion on our lost neighbours and have opportunities to point them to the Saviour. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 21 - Our worship leader

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” - Hebrews 8:1-2  Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:1-13 Today we gather for worship. As a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:3), we assemble in the presence of God. Do we grasp the glory of what is going on? Understanding what this passage tells us about the presence of Christ in our worship should both humble and excite us. First, the Lord Jesus is the One Who leads us into the presence of God. It must be Him because we have no access on our own. Verse 13 tells us that He comes into God’s presence and that He comes together with those whom He has brought into God’s family by the new birth. Christ leads us into the presence of God. Second, verse 12 tells us that Christ is the One Who sings with us. The Lord Jesus, as He gathers with His people, sings the praises of His God. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to think that Jesus leads us in God’s praises? Third, verse 12 tells us Christ is the One Who preaches to us. The Lord Jesus, as He gathers with His people, tells of God’s name to His brothers. When the Word of God is faithfully preached, it is the Lord Jesus Who is preaching. Jesus Himself mentioned that His Church is gathered into His sheepfold as they listen to His voice (John 10:17). There really is nothing humdrum about our public gatherings. Christ, the ascended high priest, gathers with us to lead us to God, to sing with us and preach to us. Who would want to miss such an assembly? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would cherish the blessing of corporate worship and have a sense that our worship leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, is amongst us.  Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 20 - Seeing with our ears

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” - Psalm 119:18  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:8-19 To the king of Syria’s thinking, the only person standing between him and victory over Israel was Elisha. Remove him and victory was his. This particular episode is a single battle in the great war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and this is the same strategy Satan would later use against Christ. Take Christ down and victory was his. That’s why all the forces and strategies of Satan are unleashed against our Lord. Unsuccessful in that, Satan continues to fight against the believers, the soldiers of Christ. We might not see him, but he is the one behind all the trials and temptations of our lives. It isn’t only the invisible Satan we must see. Like Elisha’s servant, we need the Lord to open our eyes to see the power and victory of God. As the servant saw the mountains full of horses and chariots, we need to see that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We need to see the unseen victor Who shall one day be the undisputed Lord of lords. We need to see the unseen enemy and the unseen victor. How do we see the unseen? It’s not the optometrist we need, but the audiologist. We see through our ears. We learn of the schemes of our enemy and the victory of our God in Christ as we listen to the reading and preaching of the Word of God with ears that have been opened by the Spirit of God. Suggestions for prayer Remember to lift up your Pastor as tomorrow he enters the pulpit to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Pray that you will hear and be encouraged by the recounting of the wonderful works of God. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 19 - No axedent

“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” - Psalm 93:3-4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7 It is important to the story that the sons of the prophets were compelled to become lumberjacks because their ‘seminary’ had become too small. God’s kingdom was advancing, and our enemy attacks to thwart its progress. But as our Lord Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16, “The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church.” God is determined to see His kingdom advance. So, He makes the axe head float. He is also the God who frees us from debt. To replace the borrowed axe head was beyond the ability of the wielder. God, Who had redeemed His people from slavery in the exodus, was not eager to see them enslaved again. So, He made the axe head float. Finally, notice how the greatness of God is seen in the small details of life. It looked at first that Elisha was going to send the men away while he remained. But, ‘luckily’ one of them pressed Elisha to go with them. God knew in advance that Elisha was needed and ensured that Elisha went. All this highlights for us that there are no ‘axedents’ in our lives. God’s gracious and glorious purposes, whether for His kingdom’s advance or His people’s good, will succeed. You see this displayed in the life and ministry of our Saviour. He will stop at nothing for His glory and our good. That is the kind of God you could give yourself to, don’t you think? And that’s the kind of God you could swing an axe for. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would open our eyes to see His sovereign power and His wonderful care for His people. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 18 - Judan-like, anti-grace gehazis

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . .” - Philippians 3:8 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:19b-27 At the end of the story, things change. Clouds roll in. Instead of grace there is greed. Instead of truth there are lies. Instead of, ”As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none,” we hear, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” And that dreaded leprosy is back. Instead of a leprous man coming into Elisha's presence clean, a clean man leaves Elisha's presence leprous. What had happened? Greed. Like Judas, Gehazi was on the front line of gospel ministry. Like Judas, he lusted for money. And what Gehazi lusted in his heart, he now held in his hand. Watch out for the progression of sin. Sin itself is greedy; always wanting more. And how did it advantage Gehazi? He has wealth now, but he also has leprosy. Gehazi resented God’s grace. He didn’t like this Syrian getting off so cheaply. Had he been captured by the free grace of God, he would not only have rejoiced in Naaman’s blessing, he would never have pursued wealth. His fascination with wealth highlights a dissatisfaction and disinterest in the grace of God. It always does. Left to ourselves we would all be Judas-like, anti-grace Gehazis. But Christ offers Himself to us. He is willing to take responsibility for our greed, lies and covetousness and our punishment too. That is what the cross is all about. So cherish Him, and if we have Him, is anything else even remotely comparable or desirable? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord that He would reveal the glory and wonder of the Lord Jesus so that we might be convinced of the surpassing worth of having Him. Pray that God would protect us from greed and covetousness. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 13 - Great but...

“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” - 2 Corinthians 4:11-12 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Kings 5:1-3 Naaman was a great man, but he was a leper, a picture of humanity. Favored by God, but with a malignant stain. We are also introduced to a little girl. Unlike Naaman, she is a believer in God and, upon hearing of his plight, sends him to the prophet of the Lord in Samaria. You might think that this girl, afflicted by sorrow at the hand of her master, might be vindictive and rejoice in his suffering. But in Jesus-like fashion, she seeks his blessing. How ought we, like our Saviour, to pursue the blessing of even our enemies? The providence of God stares us in the face in the lives of these two characters. Both Naaman’s success and leprosy are from the sovereign Lord Who orchestrates all things. Naaman’s providential problem will eventually lead to his prosperity. Were it not for this unwanted intrusion in his life, he would have continued to live and die infatuated with himself and forever ignorant of the God of all grace. What about the providence of God in the girl’s life? It might seem less kind. God’s providence was distressing as He wrenched her from her family and brought her to her captor’s home. In His providence, the Lord is shaping her life to be like the Lord Jesus’ life; she is disadvantaged for another’s advantage. Perhaps this is a good window into the hardships you are experiencing. Is God seeking another’s good through your pain? Are you willing to embrace this mode of God’s working and share in the sufferings of Christ?  Suggestions for prayer Pray for a compassionate heart for those afflicted by the malignancy of sin that we might point them to our Saviour. Ask for God’s blessing as His people gather for the hearing of His Word and the praising of His Name. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 12 - Give us this day our daily bread

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” - John 6:35 Scripture reading: John 6:1-14; 2 Kings 4:42-44 What a tremendous encouragement it must have been to the prophets to see this man from Baal Shalishah come with 20 loaves of barley bread and some heads of new grain, not just because they were hungry, but because there still was a believer who honoured the Lord with his first fruits. The fellow came from Baal-Shalishah, evidently a place where Baal was treasured. You wouldn’t expect that, would you? What a wonderful reminder that God always has His people, even in unlikely places. But if the man was generous, God was even more so. The man’s gift was inadequate, but God used it much like Jesus used the young boy’s inadequate supply of bread and fish to feed the multitude. Despite his protests, the servant gives it to the men to eat; they ate and had some left. God doesn’t just give enough grace to scrape by. He has provided the Bread of Life, and whoever comes to Christ shall not hunger. Indeed, from His fullness we receive grace upon grace (John 1:16). For sin there is abundant cleansing; for weakness, abundant strength; for discouragement, abundant hope. There is no limit to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. What do you need grace for today? A guilty conscience? Temptation? Weakness? There is grace available — loads of it. Ask Him for it. After the feeding in John’s gospel, the people exclaimed: “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14). Indeed. And as the hymn says, “More than all in Him I find.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the God of all grace would give us the humility to ask Him for the grace we need. And pray that the world might know that a Prophet has come to offer Himself for hungry souls. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 11 - Let’s stew over this

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” - 1 Corinthians 15:58 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:38-41                                                                                                                                                                      We don’t often think of our food supply. If we burn the dinner, we call Domino’s pizza. Imagine if you are in a famine and you prepare a pot of stew, and, hoping to make it stretch, you ruin it by adding some deadly ingredients. That was what Elisha’s servant did. It is helpful to note that even God’s people feel the effects of God’s judgment. The famine did not bypass them. That will give us some ballast when we face difficulties in life. The death in the pot reminds us of the devastation of sin unleashed by the fruit in the garden. There were no fatal plants in the Garden before the Fall. The point is that these men of God live in the context of the curse. Thankfully, redemption comes in the story. Elisha throws some flour in the pot and it becomes safe. The curse is reversed. We ought to think of the person and work of Christ, the greater than Elisha. It is not accidental that His crown on the cross is one of thorns. He participates in the curse so that we are redeemed from death. But He also redeems our efforts to serve Him. He takes our frustrated attempts to serve and makes them useful and edifying and profitable for His glory and the good of others. How is that for an encouragement for you mothers, fathers, elders, ministers, husbands, wives, singles, employees and students? Your labour, in the work of the Lord, is not in vain. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the sacrificial death of the Son of God that redeems us from our sins and enables us to serve Him amidst the frustrations of this world. Pray that He would encourage disheartened saints to keep striving to serve Him. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 10 - The beautiful, the bitter and beyond

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” - John 11:25-26 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:18-37 God gives us both the beautiful and the bitter of this life to point us to the life beyond. The Lord tests this woman’s faith to give her a still more glorious revelation of His grace and glory. The woman leaves her dead son and, in faith (Hebrews 11:35), goes to the man of God. Elisha returns and prays for the boy’s restoration. Elisha prays because this is the work of God. The holy man of God lays on the boy and becomes unclean in order to bring life to him. Elisha pictures the miracle of God’s glory and the gospel of God’s grace. But he does so faintly. After all, the boy dies again. What we need is not the man of God, but the God-man to give new life to the dead. God has done this and displayed His glory in the gospel of our Lord Christ. Christ identifies with us in our humanity and our sin to bring us life from the dead by His own death. In resurrection glory, He ensures our own resurrection at the last day. This life is a mixture of gladness and sadness and both point us to the beyond. The beautiful reminds us of the generosity of God’s grace to sinners and the indescribable inheritance He has prepared for those who love Him. The bitter makes us feel the pain of the curse so that we don’t become too attached to this world, but, instead, wait with expectancy for the renewal of all things when Christ returns in glory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may have our eyes fixed on the inheritance that God keeps in heaven for us so that we may rejoice even while we are grieved by various trials. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

 November 5 - More than we ask or think

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” - Ephesians 3:20-21  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 3:13-27 The two kings finally meet up with Elisha. One goes in faith, the other in fear. The Lord promises water. Additionally, He promises victory. It is like the Lord says, “Ask Me something that will really show My glory.” God is all about putting His glory on display. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. You may be discouraged at your trials and wonder why there are ruts in your path. Be of good cheer. God is displaying His glory in your need, and what else would you rather see? The chapter describes God’s undeserved generosity to His people. Aren’t you surprised by His kindness? You should be. Israel wasn’t serving Him faithfully, yet God was generous. This passage highlights the gospel goodness of the Lord. Blessing depends on who we are with. Elisha would have had nothing to do with Jehoram except that Jehoshaphat was with him. Because of King Jesus’ presence with us, God has everything to do with us. This is highlighted in v. 20 when it says that the water came at the time of the morning sacrifice. This is why we pray for blessing in Jesus’ name. Blessing depends on the sacrifice of God’s Son. Mesha’s despicable sacrifice of his oldest son (v. 27) is recounted. It was a sacrifice to Chemosh, the Moabite god, hoping that he would turn the battle in Mesha’s favor. What kind of god is that? Our God is so different. He doesn’t ask for our sacrifice so that His wrath can be appeased. For that He sacrifices His own Son. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His undeserved favor to us in our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask Him to enable us to see His glory. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 4 - The revelation of trials

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” - Romans 15:4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 3:4-12 Mesha of Moab became sheepish about paying Israel tribute. So, he rebelled. Jehoram musters Israel and invites Jehoshaphat to join him. Evidently, the king of Edom was compelled to join. The three kings hope to attack through the Desert of Edom. After seven days, they run out of water, a very bad thing to have happen in the desert. Notice the response of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, particularly as they are contrasted with each other. The same situation confronts both. Jehoram responds in despair and fear, accusing the Lord (v. 10). Jehoshaphat has faith. He turns to the Lord and wants to hear His word (v. 11). Difficult circumstances don’t cause our heart to act in a sinful way; distress reveals our heart. The "real you" shows up when things aren’t going well. It is no wonder that Jehoram despairs. He has a guilty conscience. Though he mentions the Lord’s name, he doesn’t know Him. It is possible to think that you are on good terms with God until a trial in your life comes. Then you begin to think harshly of God and accuse Him. Your ‘faith’ is shown for what it really is, a sham, as you cower in fear. Jehoshaphat’s faith turns him to the Lord. He wants to hear from his God. This is the experience of the child of God. The Lord comforts His people in their distress and ministers to them through His word. Has the word of God ever brought you solace and comfort in a time of trial? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for trials that enable you to see the sins that you harbor so that you might seek the grace that both forgives and transforms. Thank Him for His Son Who always trusted the Lord. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 3 - The Lord’s assessment

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” - Matthew 22:37 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 2 Kings 3:1-3 As Elijah had to deal with Ahab, Elisha had to deal with Jehoram. Jehoram means, “The Lord is exalted.” However, his life contradicted his name. He is better than Ahab, spiritually speaking, but he is still not where a king of Israel ought to be. He is not a faithful worshipper of, nor a firm believer in, the Lord. He removed the pillar of Baal, but didn’t fully turn his back on Baal. Elisha tells him to consult the prophets of Baal (3:13), suggesting Jehoram still had some familiarity with them. Later, Jehu, upon succeeding Jehoram, had to kill the Baal prophets that remained (10:18). Moreover, although Jehoram did not promote Baal like his parents, he still clung to the sin of Jeroboam. He was an improvement, but God’s assessment is that he was bad. “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” That is the assessment we should concern ourselves with. The Lord is our standard, not the next guy or the last guy. God doesn’t grade on a curve. True, some sins are worse than others. But any sin warrants the wrath and curse of God. It is important to understand this because the sinful heart is always seeking new tactics to allow us to engage in sin. True worship that is acceptable to God is a hatred of all sin and a commitment to obey Him in all circumstances. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us see His intolerance of sin and to give us a desire to hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Thank Him that Christ has died for all our unfaithfulness in His faithful obedience to His Father. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 2 – Covenant bears

“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:39  Scripture reading: Acts 2:36-41; 2 Kings 2:23-25 It is a sad, but not unexpected event. Bethel had a long and hallowed tradition as a place of worship. But things weren’t like they used to be in Bethel. It had become notorious for sin and idolatry. This sin affected young and old alike. Remember, the man who rebuilt Jericho at the cost of his sons was from Bethel. In Bethel, children were sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ godlessness. That’s what’s happening in this story. The parents hate God and their children mock the Lord and His anointed servant Elisha. The Lord responds as promised. He told them He would let loose wild beasts against them that would bereave them of their children (Leviticus 26:22). And so He did. This story should make us tremble at the display of God’s wrath in response to the scandalous nature of sin. But we should remember that this story follows the previous one in which God displays grace to the cursed. Bethel sounds the note of the ferocity of God’s judgement. But thankfully, that is not the only note sounded. Later, in Jerusalem, God shows mercy to sinners who rejected the Lord and His anointed servant in clamouring for the death of Jesus. Though they called for Christ’s blood to be on them and their children (Matthew 27:25), the Spirit-filled ambassador of the ascended Christ retaliates with promised grace for them and their children. What a glorious reminder that grace reverses the curses and that Jesus comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remind us as parents of the solemn repercussions our spiritual carelessness might have on our children. Thank the Lord that His grace reverses the curse. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. ...

Daily devotional

October 28 – Being steadfast in the Lord

We consider those blessed who remain steadfast – James 5:11 Scripture reading: James 5:11-12 When we think of or read about those who have remained steadfast in the Lord, we may ask, “Am I able to stay steadfast in the Lord?” But we must remember that these people could only do so because of the compassion and mercy of the Lord. God worked in them despite themselves. James gives the example of Job. How did he remain steadfast? It was only because there was a steadfast relationship between him and God. Satan had said Job only worshipped God because things were going well in his life. Satan said to take away everything from him and then he would disown and turn from God. Job was confused, upset, and even angry at God but never did this. Job continued to call out to God because his steadfastness was based on God’s steadfast love for him. As we deal with the struggles around us, may we continue to know God’s compassion and mercy to us in Jesus Christ, so that we can continue to be steadfast in our lives. The one way James says we are to be steadfast in our relationship with our Lord is letting our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no. We live in a world where people’s words mean so little because they do not see that they do all things before the face of God. We are called to show our Lord and the world around us that our vows and promises mean something because of the steadfast love of our Lord in our lives. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would work in us in such a way that we would be steadfast in our commitment to live for Him in each area of our lives. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 27 – Being patient with our brothers and sisters

...the judge is standing at the door – James 5:9 Scripture reading: James 5:9-10 Living in this world with all its brokenness and pleasures, we, as Christians, can often think differently in how we are to conduct our lives day to day. We may see other Christians possessing goods and doing things we deem unwise, and wonder if they are really living for the Lord and His Kingdom? We cannot say they are sinning, yet question their loyalty to the Lord. In doing so we can easily grumble and judge our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We may think they are not doing enough for the church and for the Kingdom of God or that they have it easy while I am suffering in my service to the Lord. But if there is no sin we can see, we must leave it with the Lord, who as the Judge standing at the door, is also watching us. Being at the door means He is close at hand and will take care of it in His time. This is what the prophets of the Old Testament had to do regularly. They preached the Word of the Lord and then had to wait on the Lord. They had to be patient, trusting that God would bring about His purposes through His Word. We must be patient as we deal with each other as God’s children. Speaking God’s Word to each other in love without grumbling or judging does not mean we give up on discipline in the church. Rather, it is done with patience, not grumbling or judging, but of love. Suggestions for prayer That we would have patience with each other, trusting that the Lord is at the door. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 26 – Be patient until the Lord’s return

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord – James 5:7 Scripture reading: James 5:7-8 God’s children at times suffer at the hands of people, even people who call themselves Christians, who flatter themselves while condemning and even murdering the righteous. This is why James tells us we need to be patient. Our reward will come, and our Lord will punish in His time. James asks us to think of the farmer who needs to wait for the fruit of the harvest. He works hard for the harvest but must also wait for the hand of the Lord to bring the rain so that the plants will germinate and then grow up so that he can harvest a crop. We, like farmers, are to keep our minds on the harvest time, when Jesus comes back, living for His honor and kingdom, doing His will. This is hard at times because we watch others live for the pleasures of this world and they often seem to be having a wonderful time while we sacrifice. On top of this, those around us can ridicule us for not living for the things of this world. We need to have patience, trusting that as we live for our King, we will one day see Him in His glory, welcoming us into heavenly wonder and the new earth where all the troubles of this world will be gone. At that time, we will see those who lived for the pleasures of this world run in terror from the Lord while we will run to Him as our loving Saviour and Lord. Suggestions for prayer Ask for patience to live for our Lord, remembering what He did for us and what He has in store for us as His beloved brothers and sisters. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 25 – Seeing the emptiness of worldly treasures

You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter – James 5:5 Scripture reading: James 5:1-6 James is writing to Christians in this passage with the understanding that within the family of God, some think more of the riches of this world than the riches we have in Christ. James is warning us that if our hearts and minds value the riches and luxuries of this world above what we have in Christ, we, with them, will be burned up in the fires of hell. If we value the riches of this world too much, we will not only turn our hearts from God but will also allow others to be hurt or starve so we can have our riches and luxuries. James warns us that there is a Judgement Day coming. He compares those who live in luxury and self-indulgence as pigs being fattened up for the day of slaughter: Judgement Day. If we are fattening ourselves up on the luxuries and pleasures of this world, the joy of salvation will not look lovely to us. We are called to set apart Christ in our hearts, living in the joy of our salvation, and always being ready to talk of the hope we have in Christ with great patience, showing care for our neighbours. May we not let the luxuries and riches of this world control our hearts so that we turn away from the treasure we have as Christians. If we do, James says we will be capable of murdering innocent people in order that we can have our luxuries and pleasures. Suggestions for prayer That the joy of salvation would so enrich our hearts and minds that the lustre and beauty of worldly wealth and luxuries will not draw our hearts away from God and His ways. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 20 – Godly wisdom produces peacemakers

A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:18 Scripture reading: James 3:14-18 In today’s passage, James contrasts two types of wisdom. Having bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in one’s heart allows one to climb in worldly status but shows they are not right with God. If you believe that through faith in Jesus Christ, you already have the best possible position in the universe as being a forgiven child of God, you would not need to have jealousy or selfish ambition. Wherever selfish ambition and bitter jealousy exist, we will see disorder and every vile practice. That is why these things are called earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. They go against what a child of God should have in their hearts. Only in remembering what we have in Jesus Christ can we seek wisdom that is pure, peaceful, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. We are content and joyful in the salvation Jesus has graciously given only when we can take root in this wisdom. When one believes in Jesus as Saviour, He becomes that person’s wisdom so they will want to be more like Jesus. James concludes by pointing out that when we seek to be peacemakers in this broken, sinful world, we will increasingly be who God declares us to be through faith in Jesus Christ: the righteous conduit through which God blesses others. Suggestions for prayer That God would work in us such wisdom as we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour so that we would more and more sow a harvest of righteousness. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 19 – The wisdom of meekness

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. – James 3:13 Scripture reading: James 3:13 Many think being wise is having intellectual ability or having the ability to persuade others of their ideas. James lived in a world where being wise was equated with the ability to become rich or powerful‒to be self-reliant. To be humble or meek was considered to be unwise and foolish. Today, many still think in this way, and talk of a self-made man who is able to push his way to the top. Even those who display arrogance and pride are often praised and emulated. We as Christians can fall into this worldly way of thinking, wanting to be impressive in other’s eyes. James tells us that if one wants to be wise from God’s perspective, it must be shown in not promoting one’s rights, career and desires.  He calls this the meekness of wisdom. It is the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who did not press for his rights and desires but laid down his life for others. This meekness of wisdom does not make one a coward or passive but comes from a firm confidence that you are a child of God, which frees you from being overly anxious or self-promoting. In the meekness of wisdom, we no longer live for self but for the honour of God’s name, for Christ’s Kingdom, and for obedience to His revealed will, the Bible. Suggestions for prayer That being beloved children of God through faith in Jesus Christ we would not be anxious or self-promoting but show the meekness of wisdom in our works. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 18 – Having love come from our hearts and out of our mouths

Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? – James 3:11 Scripture reading: James 3:3-12 In today's passage, James continues his discussion on sins that many overlook, the sins of our tongue. Just as the reins can guide a horse, and a rudder can turn a great ship, so the tongue has great influence in our lives and in the lives of others. As a spark can start a great forest fire so the words that come from the tongue can cause great harm. By our own efforts, we are unable to control our tongue. Humans have the ability to tame all kinds of animals but not the tongue. Why? Because the tongue speaks from the heart which is deceitful above all things. That is why with the heart people will praise God and then curse others who are made in God’s image. James says this happens in Christians who confess Christ as well. The only way for our mouths to be controlled is for the love of Christ to be poured into our hearts. This is why we need to grow in our understanding of God’s love for us as we have it explained to us in the Bible. As God’s Word grows in us, what comes out of our mouth will more be the love of Christ that is in us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit would cause Christ’s love to touch our hearts so that what comes from our tongues will be pleasing to our God and loving to our neighbours.  Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 17 – Not many should be teachers

We all stumble in many ways. – James 3:2 Scripture reading: James 3:1-2 One of the reasons we read the law of God each Sunday morning is to remind us that we stumble in many ways. God wants us to repent of our sins and come to know afresh His forgiving love. There was only one who never stumbled in His commitment to love God and his neighbor, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow in our understanding of God’s love and a realization of our sin, a maturity grows in us.  A maturity not only to fight temptation and of being a godly example to others, but an ability to deal with others in a gracious and wise manner as fellow sinners. This is why James says not many should become teachers. James goes on to tell us that teachers in the church, elders and pastors, will be judged with greater strictness. As leaders in the church, they will either be a blessing to the congregation or a means by which the members will stumble. If teachers present a teaching that is not true to God’s Word, it can cause members to fall away from Biblical truth. For this reason, those seeking to be elders and pastors need not only have a sound understanding of God’s Word, but also walk in all godliness, before being a teacher in the congregation of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray the Lord would continue to raise up men in the church to be mature in doctrine and walk so that church will continue to be strong.  Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 12 – Pure religion before the Lord

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27 Scripture reading: James 1:26-27 In our world today, many claim to be religious or spiritual. During the time James wrote this letter, many people claimed to be religious. He uses the word religion to indicate how a person worships the Lord. James emphasizes that for one’s religion to be real, it must affect a person’s everyday life. He tells us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if we claim to be religious, but do not bridle our tongue, our religion is worthless. If you come to church to worship and honor God with your words but are careless in your speech, God does not see your religion as worshipping Him or honoring His Name because it does come from a heart that has been changed by the good news of Jesus Christ. When a person trusts that Jesus has washed away their sins, and that they are pure before God, they will worship God and give offerings not only on Sunday, but will seek to help others throughout the week. They will not only guard their speech, but keep themselves unstained from the world. Instead of seeking the fleeting pleasures of this world, they will be people who find comfort and joy in serving the Lord every day. Suggestions for prayer Pray that our religion would come from a thankful heart that seeks to please our Lord and bless our neighbour with our tongue and actions. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 11 – Praying with thankful hearts

Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6 Scripture reading:  Philippians 4:4-7 Today is a special day in which Canadians can reflect on the harvest and the preservation of our nation. We are blessed in that we can give thanks no matter what situation we find ourselves in, whether we had a great harvest, or whether the year was more difficult because of a pandemic. Christians always have a reason to be thankful. Paul wrote the book of Philippians from a prison cell, uncertain whether or not he would be executed for proclaiming Jesus as Saviour and Lord. He wrote to a group of Christians who were poor in the eyes of the world and persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Yet, Paul called them to rejoice in the Lord because they had Jesus in their lives and thus had the greatest treasure a person can have. Do you see that when you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you have the greatest gift of all? In their difficulty, Paul also called them to make their prayers and supplications with thanksgiving. They were called to ask for relief from their troubles with thankful hearts trusting that nothing in all creation could separate them from God and His love. As beloved children, God loves us when we come to Him with our requests, but He calls us to do this with thankful hearts, trusting that nothing will ever separate us from Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask that we bring our requests with a thankful heart this day and always. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 10 – Living in true freedom

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. – James 1:25 Scripture reading: James 1:22-25 James emphasizes that those who love the Lord are not just to listen to the Bible with their ears, but do what it says. He tells us that if we just listen to the words of the Bible without doing them, we are only deceiving ourselves into thinking we are children of God. That is, if we are not reading the Bible to see how we are to live as God’s beloved children, we are not showing we are children of God. To truly believe in Jesus Christ causes believers to want to live for the Lord. James does not mean we have to be perfect, but if the Word of God has saved us, it will also change us in such a way that we will see our flaws and want to do something about them. If we don’t read the Bible in this way, James says we are like a man who after looking in the mirror goes away and forgets what he looks like. To hear the Word of God is like looking into the mirror, realizing we are not what we should be and seeing the changes that need to happen in our life. When we read the Word of God, it compels us to work at those changes. In doing so we will grow in liberty or freedom; that is in living the way God wants us to live, in the joy of salvation as His beloved children. We will be blessed in what we do. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would read the Bible with open minds and hearts, admitting our flaws and be eager to work on them as beloved children of God. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 9 – Quick to listen and slow to speak

Put away all filthiness and rampart wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:17 Scripture reading: James 1:19-21 Yesterday, we read that all good gifts come from God. Today, James warns us of things we all need to digest as God’s children. We need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. That is, we have to watch jumping to conclusions when we hear what others have to say, and seek to find out the truth before we react. To jump to conclusions without listening properly often results in anger in our hearts. When this happens our words and our actions are often not pleasing to God. This can happen even when we are trying to correct someone for wrongdoing. James tells us that in order to prevent this from happening we need to put away filthiness and wickedness. Putting away filthiness is the act of ridding your life of those things that influence you to act in selfish and wicked ways. It is to push selfish desires and passions out of your mind and heart. James says you can only do this by humbly admitting you are sinful and prone to all kinds of wickedness and turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. Jesus Christ saves our souls so that we can begin to be quick to listen, slow to speak and anxious to live for the Lord. This is true because as the good news of Jesus Christ is humbly received, our souls are saved and we begin to live not for selfish wicked pleasures, but for the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the good news of Jesus Christ would more and more be received in our minds and hearts so that we would more and more live for the Lord in the joy of salvation. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 4 – Praying for wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5 Scripture reading: James 1:5-8 Many think that having wisdom means possessing knowledge. The Bible defines wisdom as knowing and doing something about it, in a way that is pleasing to God. Knowing God as the holy and almighty God Who hates sin should cause you to go to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. That is wisdom. Our passage today comes just after James told us to count it all joy when we meet trials. Now he tells us that if we lack wisdom dealing with trials, we should ask God Who desires to give generously. If we wonder why this difficult time has come to our lives, we are to ask God for the ability, not to just know what to do, but to live with the trial in a way that trusts and honors God. To do this we have to have faith that God loves us and will not give us anything beyond what we can bear. If we doubt that God loves us, we will be like a wave on the sea going up and down with the circumstances of life. If we look at the circumstances in our lives to validate God’s love for us, we are not believing in Jesus Christ. If this is true, James says, we will never receive wisdom to deal with trials as children of God. This calls us to put our faith in Jesus Christ as proof that God loves us even in the midst of trials. Only then we can pray that God will give us what we need. Suggestions for prayer Pray that in the midst of the trials we are facing we will keep our eyes on Jesus, the proof of God’s love to us, so that we will have the ability to stand up under our trials. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 3 – Blessed through trials

…and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and compete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:4 Scripture reading: James 1:2-4 For Christians it should always be a joyful thing to go to church, read God’s Word, sit under the preaching and praise God together as God’s people. But in the last year we have not always been able to gather together as we desired. This was a trial God allowed us to experience. God’s heavy hand was on our world and Christians also felt the sting of this hardship. James, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that we should count it all joy when we meet various trials. The effects of COVID have been a trial. Not only could we not go on holidays and visit loved ones, but we also could not worship in the same way. James tells us that we should count it joy when we meet trials, even the kind that comes from a virus. Why should we count these trials with joy? God uses them to test our faith to produce in us steadfastness, trusting God whatever the circumstances. God tested us this past year with COVID. He wants us to believe He did this so that steadfastness would grow in us and that we would be able to trust God with increasing dependence on His love. In believing this we have to admit that we need to grow in this steadfastness so that we can count it all joy when we face the next trial. Through these trials God is perfecting us so that we will hold on to Him in faith lacking nothing, no matter the circumstances. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would see and believe that the trials our Lord brings us through, will produce in us an ever-increasing steadfastness to trust our Lord’s love for us. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 2 – Waiting for paradise

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. – James 1:1b Scripture reading: John 14:1-6 James wants us to see something about who we are. The word dispersion describes people living in places that are not their home. The Old Testament people of God were scattered throughout the world by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. For a long time, they lived outside the promised land and suffered trials. God allowed this to reshape His people so that in coming back to the promised land, they would hunger to live for the Lord in the joy of salvation. God promised His Old Testament dispersed people that there would be an end to their struggles and they would return to the promised land. James, in calling the people he wrote to, the twelve tribes of the dispersion, is telling us that we, as the New Testament church, are like them. We are presently not living in our real home. God has promised that paradise awaits us. We are to live on this earth, not holding to the things of this world, but to the promise that awaits us. This past year, a small virus has reminded us that we have no enduring reality here. It has dispersed us in many ways, in that we were not able to meet as we desired for worship, Bible studies and fellowship. The last word in this verse is translated greetings, but it could also be translated to say rejoice or be glad. God calls us, His dispersed people, to rejoice, for the paradise of heaven and the new earth awaits us. May you trust that today and always. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would see more clearly that our real home is not here, but in the paradise of heaven and the new earth. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah, and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to October: Living in a fallen world with faith

In living through a world pandemic we as Christians were called to deal with many different struggles and complications by our God. Not only have we been asked to work in different ways, shop in new ways, intact with each other in new ways but also worship in new ways. Many of us have wondered what is going on in our Father’s world. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus and most of us have lost much of our sense of freedom through the long months of the pandemic. From online studies to working and meeting people via zoom or some other platform we have gone through complicated times. Some have sheltered themselves with great fear of the virus because of the news stories, others have been overwhelmed by so many conflicting news reports. We have been bombarded with both fear-mongering and conspiracy theories from many different circles. This month we will go through the book of James who tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. As we deal with life in this broken world, in the wake of the pandemic, I pray that our study of James will help us to grow stronger in our faith as our faith is tested. May our study of James help us to have a faith that works in such a way that we more and more show our heavenly Father we love being His beloved children. May the study of James also help us to show the world around us that our faith is real, not only bringing comfort and hope to our lives but causing us to have a great care and love for our communities. May it cause us to grow in our calling to be salt and light in a world that is increasingly dysfunctional. Living for God as His joyful servants James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, – James 1:1a Scripture reading: Mark 6:1-6 The writer of this book was a unique leader in the early Christian church. He was a long-time leader of the church in Jerusalem and was a half-brother of Jesus Christ. Yet he does not mention either of these things when he tells us who he is. Instead, he says he was a servant, really a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Calling himself a slave of God and Jesus Christ meant James saw himself as one who was purchased by the blood for Jesus Christ and so was to live for His Master’s desires and plans before all other concerns or desires. James did not always believe and live in this reality. But the Holy Spirit so worked in his heart that he not only believed in Jesus Christ, but submitted himself to Him, as a slave to a master. This can only come about when you truly believe that God loves you and that God’s ways and desires are more important and better than your ways and desires. If you know yourself as one who was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, do you also acknowledge this about your life, that you are not your own, but belong to Jesus in such a way that His desires and plans come before your plans and desires? Jesus says whoever comes after me must take up his/her cross and follow me; that is to die to self and to live for your master and Lord in the joy of salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would so work in our minds and hearts by His Word and Spirit that we would respond to His sacrificial love by dying to self and living for God and His kingdom. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 26 – The Prince who cares

Your princes are like grasshoppers, your scribes like clouds of locusts settling on fences in a day of cold—when the sun rises, they fly away; no one knows where they are. – Nahum 3:17 Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:1-11 Blessed Sunday to one and all! Remember the first day of the month, when I noted that the LORD is urgently calling out, like a mother concerned for the welfare of her child who is running into danger? The prophet is speaking these words, terrible as they are to hear, as an urgent, final appeal for the people of the Assyrian Empire to repent. God the Father is faithful, in contrast to the faithless, self-serving princes and ruling class. In a day of calamity and darkness, the princes of a nation must show compassionate leadership. Those who enjoy history might remember when King Edward the VIII abdicated the throne of England. His unpopular brother, George the VI, was thrust, unwillingly, to the throne. When World War II saw the bombing of London, King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, toured the devastated areas. The population of London grew to love their monarch. This is a sharp contrast to Nineveh. When troubles started brewing in the Assyrian Empires, the princes enriched themselves and fled. The scribes and educated people grabbed what they could and ran. Therefore, they’re referred to as locusts. Locusts eat every green plant; when a land is devastated, locusts take off and go onto the next green area to devour. What a contrast we have in Christ Jesus, the High King of Heaven, Who laid down His life for His people. The King of Heaven guides His people and leads through trials and troubles to the way of salvation. His Word is our guide. His Spirit communicates His nearness. Suggestions for prayer By the Spirit offer up prayers of praise and adoration, worship and thanksgiving to God for all His rich blessings so extravagantly revealed in Jesus Christ. Pray for those who because of persecution and government oppression are unable to openly gather for worship. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 25 – Wealth and your citizenship in Babylon or Jerusalem

You increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens. The locust spread its wings and flies away. – Nahum 3:16 Scripture reading: Rev. 18:4-8; Rev. 18:11-17 The Bible depicts two cities, the cities of righteous Jerusalem contrasted by wicked Babylon. The Assyrian Empire and her great capital of Nineveh are prophesied over, and part of the promised ruin will be the fleeing merchants. Like Babylon of Revelation, the riches of Nineveh had multiplied. Their fine products were taken as plunder from enemies, some of it from nations subjugated whose resources were pillaged to increase the wealth of the Assyrian empire. All of it added to the wicked and godless pride of the nation which had forgotten the mercies of God poured out on her a century earlier. Merchants can hear rumors from distant lands with which they trade, learn information from wealthy clients and can be like a barometer of what is about to happen. Nahum prophesied the merchants and their wealth would, like locusts, fly away to greener pastures where food is plentiful. They see the coming disaster faster than the leaders and the population. Upturns and downturns of the marketplace should not cause Christians to fear. Every earthly kingdom, every rich empire, like Babylon of Revelation, will one day be thrown down into ruin. The holy city of Jerusalem, where the righteous, those made clean by the blood of Christ at the cross, will flourish. Christians live knowing the kingdoms of this world must be made subject to the reign of Jesus and so will experience marketplace instability to remind the merchants and people that God, the Father, alone is the source of all that is lasting and good. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Spirit of God to help you examine your motives with regards to your financial planning and wealth management. Are you seeking the lasting Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, and using your money, much or little as it is, in service to Jesus our King? Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 24 – God is a consuming fire

There fire will devour you… – Nahum 3:15a Scripture reading: Heb. 12:18-29 What a picture Hebrews gives us. Our God is a consuming fire. Nahum pictures fire as the judgment of God against a wicked city. Hebrews gives a contrasting image; the fire is purifying for all who are in Jesus Christ. Hebrews explains the contrast between the wicked, such as the Ninevites, and the people who believe in the Magnificent God of Blessing. Those who are warned by the Word of God and the prophets of the LORD and still refuse Him will face the sentence their sins deserve. It is the fires and agony of hell. It is not something Christians celebrate. Rather, this terrifying knowledge drives us as believers to worship God and appeal to Him for the salvation of many. Even Moses trembled before the Majestic Glory of God at Mt. Sinai. We too, as believers in Jesus Christ, realize the great perfection and purity of God and tremble before Him with adoration and wonder. Recognize Jesus Christ endured the fires of God’s just anger against sin. Jesus was punished so that the fires of God’s judgement would be fully spent and believers, therefore, walk with God in righteousness. This is a great and glorious reason for praising the God of all ages. He is just. He is pure. He is holy. Therefore, in view of the Excellencies of God, believers acknowledge the inestimable worth of God. Join with believers of all ages and offer acceptable praise with reverence and awe. Suggestions for prayer Pray that unbelievers heed the warning of judgment and find salvation in Jesus Christ and in Him with believers acknowledge the inestimable worth of God. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 23 – Terrors no longer terrify Christians

There the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like locusts. – Nahum 3:15 Scripture reading: Luke 10:13-20 In quick succession, terrifying images related to the siege of a city are pronounced as judgment against the Assyrian cities. Yesterday, we noted that when a city expected invaders, water would be hauled into the city and stored for the people to drink. When the enemy used burning arrows against the people shut up behind strong walls, the fires would require quantities of water to quench. Fire was a terrible threat against a city. If there was not enough water to halt the fire’s spread or if the fire took hold before the citizens of the beleaguered city could put it out, then the citizens would have to either die in the city or open its gates and rush out. As they were fleeing they’d be hacked down by the soldiers of the invading hordes. As easily as locusts eat up every blade of grass and every green thing when they swarm, so easily would an invading army destroy the citizenry of the captured city. Some Christians object to the warlike language of Scripture. Our reading in Luke shows that Jesus used such expressions and war terms as well. When the days draw near to Jesus’ return in power and glory, the distress upon the earth will be great. As Christians, we do not need to be afraid. We are confident that our salvation is nearer than ever. Despite the tumult of the world or the rumours of war and upheavals, we need to worship the LORD of Glory Who is drawing near to deliver His people. Suggestions for prayer Pray that many will take refuge in Christ our King and among His people; thanks be to God that there will be an end to violence and wickedness. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 18 – Wait, there is still more

…you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. – Isaiah 51:17b Scripture reading: Nahum 3:11; Luke 22:39-46 There are two very apt illustrations used in this verse. Perhaps you have heard the expression “punch drunk”? That is when a boxer has been hit in the head, not hard enough to knock him out, but hard enough to disorient him. There is another level of meaning as well. It may be that the people of Nineveh, if they do not repent, will drink the full cup of God’s wrath and they will be drunken and finally destroyed by it. Secondly, the illustration in this verse is that people will go into hiding. There is some ambiguity in the meaning of the original language. Perhaps it means soldiers will go off and hide themselves in fear. It might also mean that this mighty empire will be hidden by the sands of time. Only archaeologists will ever uncover the existence of this once mighty nation. They are an object of scorn and derision for all who pass by. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, Jesus prayed that the cup would pass and that He would not have to drink it. This cup is what is referred to in Isaiah 51:17, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of staggering. Jesus Himself will take the blows we deserved. He was punished, though He was completely innocent. Jesus was scorned—so terrible was the mocking that any others who faced it would have gone into hiding. Glorious is Jesus, our Redeemer-King; great is the salvation He brings to all who believe. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ; thank Him for the clarity of our new life and blessing of living by the power of the Spirit. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 17 – Prove it

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. – Jeremiah 1:10  Scripture reading: Nahum 3:7-9 and Jer. 1 Prove it. Isn’t that a common reaction people have when confronted with the Word of God? Nahum came to the Assyrian nation with a prophesy so dire you can almost anticipate the arms-folded, hostile response of “prove it”. Interestingly, the LORD anticipates the hard-hearted response and gives His credentials. The Egyptian city of Thebes was strong with many moats and rivers which might make it seem impossible for an army of foot soldiers to conquer. What happened? This powerful city was thrown down by the Assyrians. Even though Thebes could call on strong warrior nations like Egypt and the trading partner nations surrounding her, the Assyrians conquered them. The point is, if a seemingly strong, well-defended city can come crashing down, on what are the Assyrians basing their boasts? No nations are standing with them. No other lands would assist them. The passage from Jeremiah gives the Word of the LORD which ‘proves it’. It is the LORD Who plants a nation or uproots it, the LORD builds up a city or destroys it. Many times, in Scripture, such events were foretold before they happened. What a lesson this is for us. Some of us place our hope in a particular political party, or a gifted orator, or Christian coalitions for change. The lesson from history is clear: God is the ruler of nations. Every nation, political leader, and government will be judged by the High King of heaven: Jesus. He has proved His right to judge. He has proved Himself the only, everlasting King. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that history will come to its fulfilment in Jesus Christ; pray for the eyes of faith to see the work of the LORD. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 16 – Now is the day of salvation

Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts… - Nahum 3:5 Scripture reading: Nahum 3:5-7 and II Chron. 30:1-13 This, humanly speaking, may be one of the darkest and most humiliating degradations that will be inflicted on the Assyrians. All of us wince at the thought of having nakedness exposed. It is too indelicate to even think about. And the humiliation is compounded as those who are so shamefully exposed will also be pelted with filth. You can imagine what the reference “filth” means. Gross! We might be tempted to think that as the people of God, we are so much better than this. II Chronicles is a warning of how the people of God can forget Him. The people scorned and mocked the messengers of the LORD. In Luke 14 Jesus spoke the Parable of the Great Wedding Banquet. The audience was composed of Jewish people. They were confronted with the long-awaited Messiah, their deliverer, and they scorned Him and refused His invitation to be rescued from having their nakedness and their sins exposed. Yet, in Chronicles, it is reported that some faithful people humbled themselves and attended the Passover. In Luke 14 it is reported others, unexpected ones, were invited and tasted the banquet of the King. Revelation 5:9 celebrates the fact that at the Marriage Feast in heaven, Jesus, the Bridegroom, will have people from every tribe, language, nation and people represented. What a mighty God we serve. What graciousness is contained even in His warnings. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the day to repent. Now is the day to celebrate the great salvation given us in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray for teachers, student assistants, attendance monitors, principals, coworkers and coffee klatch friends that they will hear and receive the invitation of God. Give thanks to God for the rich salvation He has given you in Jesus. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 15 – Appropriately warned

Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts… – Nahum 3:5a Scripture reading: Colossians 3:10-17 Why spend all this time on Nahum and a long-forgotten kingdom like the Assyrians? Colossians 3 clearly answers this. Yesterday, we read about the sins of the Assyrians. They were bloodthirsty, sexually promiscuous, and liars. Now consider the fact that the wrath of God is coming against all those who walk in the sins of Nineveh. These sins are listed: sexual immorality, evil desire, anger, wrath, malice, obscene talk (which is evidence of obscene thoughts in the heart and obscene actions which one thinks he carries out in secret). People have not changed. Without the saving work of Jesus Christ, men and women will always descend to actions of depravity and wickedness. How can change take place? Those who believe in Jesus Christ are united with Him in His death and are united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:4). The same power that raised Christ from the dead, the glory of the Father, is the power that is given to believers so that we can honour God in our minds, in our hearts, in our words and with our actions. What God was asking of the Ninevites was not impossible! He sent a prophet to warn them so that they would, as their forefathers had done, repent. They did not do so, but this history of destruction is a stark warning for believers today. Hearing God’s warning we are invited to be dressed in Jesus’ righteousness. Evil has been conquered, therefore set your desires where Jesus is. Daily put on love, forgiveness and the peace of Christ. Suggestions for prayer May we hear and respond to the warning of the LORD so that we can encourage one another to be clothed in Christ and His perfections. Praise God that He warns His people, gives time and His Spirit to strengthen them for true repentance. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 10 – Believe it or not, judgment is on its way

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. – I Thessalonians 5:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:1-3 and I Thess. 5:1-11 How was the message of terror broadcast through the streets of Nineveh? Was the message received with awe and seriousness? Perhaps there was a mocking tone that accompanied the report relayed to the King of Assyria. “Oh no, an army is coming against us! Ha ha ha.” The prophetic words are brutal. The shields of the mighty men coming against Assyria (whose capital city is Nineveh) are red. It is an indicator they are covered in the blood of their defeated enemies. No one will be able to withstand the onslaught of this army. The spears are cypress—perhaps meaning they are symbols of power. Or it might mean there are as many spears as there are trees in a cypress forest—such a great number of them will be coming to terrify and overthrow. From our vantage point in history, Christians know the words of the LORD are true. Though the Assyrians ignored the clear warning of the LORD, the judgment fell exactly as it was prophesied. As we read Nahum, we know and believe that the words of our Warrior God are true. The warning to Nineveh is a warning to us as believers also. Be faithful in your loyalty to King Jesus. Day by day, live for His glory. The Day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night, at a most unexpected time. Live in security, knowing no matter how vile and evil the days are, the LORD is brandishing His strong spear of judgment; victory for our King is near at hand. Suggestions for prayer Believers encourage one another with the truth that Jesus is not neglectful; He will return and claim us as His own and bring judgment on the wicked; pray for holiness in your own life which should accompany such a promise of the Lord’s salvation. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 9 – Powerful imagery foreshadowing the New Testament

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. – John 15:4 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:1-2 & John 15:1-13 The interplay of two names for the people of God is significant. It is easy to read a passage and miss this. In our short verse the elect are called Jacob and then Israel. When you read Genesis, you learn that Jacob is a sneaky deceiver. Though he is of the chosen line which will lead to Jesus, he is not an honourable person. Just before Jacob, now married and the father of many children, returns from a distant land to his parents, he encounters a stranger who wrestles with him. The reader learns this is a striving with God. Jacob’s name is changed by this encounter. The LORD calls him Israel. This means he strived, or he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32). Why does this matter? When a person encounters God, the LORD of heaven and earth, he will be changed. Some, like the people of Nineveh, hear and ultimately reject the revelation of God. Others, like Jacob, are transformed by the encounter. Israel will be restored in majesty and Nineveh will be a pruned branch destined for destruction. Though earlier generations had responded to the word, the nation has ultimately rejected the Vinedresser. The New Testament reveals Jesus Christ as the true vine. Those who reject Jesus prove this by their words and life, and are cut off and burned. Those who believe in Him are grafted into Him. They may experience hardship, a pruning, but this will be for greater fruitfulness. The greatest evidence of fruitfulness is love for God and love for one another. Suggestions for prayer Thank God, our Father, for His attentiveness and mercy so that His people bear fruit; pray for our nation, that her leaders may heed the warning to be fruitful for the glory of Christ our True King. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 8 – Interesting name for the Lord: the Scatterer

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings… – Psalm 17:8 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:1-2 and Deuteronomy 31:30-32:12 The short lines and quick staccato phrases give a sense of urgency to these words. The prophet is declaring the sure work of the LORD, verse 1. When the Assyrian nation, whose capital is Nineveh, would invade and conquer a nation, they’d take the defeated people and scatter them throughout their empire. This is a terrible and effective way of breaking down resistance. There’d be no critical mass of people in any one area to regroup and rise up against their scatterer. Now, these proud people are going to be humbled. They will experience the very insult and defeats they’d inflicted on their enemies. Hear the taunts: Sure, man the ramparts—put your soldiers in the most strategic places—if you think that will make any difference. You can meticulously prepare for battle and still be thrown to the winds, never again to rise up in rebellion. This becomes a Name for God: the Scatterer. Through endless generations the Scatterer is undefeated. Why is the LORD doing this? He has linked His reputation and His glory to that of Israel. Anyone who touches Israel, touches the apple of God’s eye. You know how sensitive your eye is. Even the strongest man will crumble when something touches the pupil, the apple of the eye. The LORD will react, protecting His dearest people. Dear to Him for He has redeemed Israel at the cost of His own dear Son. Dear to Him because they are helpless to bring about their own salvation. They need their Redeemer, their Warrior-King. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He considers His people as precious, as the apple of His eye; pray for the nations in rebellion against Him, those who will experience the scattering of judgment, that while there is yet time, may many repent and know the blessedness of belonging to Jesus. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 7 – Confronting worthless counsellors

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. – I Corinthians 15:25 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:9-11 and Ps. 2 What folly it is to be an enemy of the LORD. It is as if an educator were deliberately seeking to erase the LORD from curriculum; this person proves to be worthless. The original language names this person as a counsellor of ruin. It is a direct accusation against Nineveh. The expression “from you” is feminine, a reference to the city of Nineveh. Such advice ultimately will bring ruin because it has not factored in the might of the LORD. What will happen to plotters of folly? It’ll be like a cruel army making battle strategies without any reference to probable counterattacks. What will the result be? They will look so foolish in hindsight, mocked for marching right into a thicket of thorn-filled brambles and wild bushes. Their ineptitude will make them seem like an army of drunks, falling down in a stupor, making them objects of ridicule. Why? Any plans which are formulated against the LORD will fail. The LORD will not be mocked. He has set His King on His holy hill—it is a reference to the Davidic monarchy, and ultimately to Jesus Christ—David’s greater son, Jesus enthroned as the eternal One, Ruler of Heaven and Earth. None of His plans can ever fail or be thwarted. Take great encouragement when you face plotters of ruin, for the LORD Who oversees all of history, Whose plans are yes and amen in Jesus Christ, is triumphing even now. The eyes of faith will see it. Suggestions for prayer Remember teachers and professors who are teaching this new school year. Pray for the spiritual protection of our children and youth that they may discern who is wise to the plans of the LORD and who are counselors of ruin. Praise God His plans never fail. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 2 – The Lord the Avenger

The LORD is a jealous and avenging husband. – Nahum 1:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1-3 and Isaiah 54:1-5 There is an expression out there that perhaps you are familiar with: “There is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned.” Have you heard of it? You can now pipe up and say, “Actually, there is a fury that is greater than that!” Nahum, speaking on behalf of the LORD, explains why the LORD’s fury is infinitely greater. Several translations capture the reason for the great fury of the LORD – the key is the original language which names the LORD as an avenging husband. This makes sense. There are many places in the Bible where the LORD describes Himself as the husband to His people, His bride. You can read Ezekiel 23 or Hosea, yes, the whole book of Hosea which is a prophecy describing the way in which the people of God chase after idols and other gods that are no gods; therefore the LORD calls this whoring, adultery of the worst kind. You might object and say this was so long ago – I mean the prophet, Nahum, ministered more than 2500 years ago! True. The warning is still as fresh as the day it was delivered. The LORD is faithful in and to every generation. As He called His people to repentance with the words of Nahum, so He calls us, as His people, to be faithful to Him. In fact, Revelation depicts the marriage feast of the Lamb, Jesus Himself taking the Church as His bride (Revelation 19:6ff). What a glorious picture that is. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit of God to give you a deeper and fuller understanding of what it is to be the Bride of Christ and to be faithful to Him in all things; and for all of us, single or married, to encourage one another in faithful living which is devoted to the LORD our promise-keeping God. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of September

Nahum is a book that is likely not too familiar for many readers. To be honest, I can’t recall ever preaching from this book. It is a regular practice of mine to read through the Bible each year, so this short, prophetic book is one I have read fairly frequently. When I was approached to prepare the devotions for the month of September, I immediately knew I wanted to explore this book. Through His prophet, Nahum, the LORD of all nations, is renewing His claim over the people of Nineveh. The LORD is calling His people to return to Himself, while there is yet time. He is calling for them to make a fresh start. About fifty to perhaps a hundred years before the time of the prophet Nahum, the prophet Jonah spoke to Nineveh. The people heard Jonah and repented. Now, so many years later, the LORD raised up another prophet to speak and warn this recalcitrant people. To me, September is a time for fresh starts. Students start the school year. Workers return to sharper focus of work after the refreshment of vacation times. It seems to me September is a time of new government initiatives and programs. In view of these things, it made sense to me to encourage you, the reader, to listen to the message of Nahum and consider making a fresh start in your walk with God. The Lord is jealous for His people “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God.” – Nahum 1:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1-3 Suppose a momma sees her child walking towards danger. Momma will shout, slightly frightening the child, who had not perceived the danger. The words of warning are critically necessary so that the child can be kept from harm. Nahum is like that, broadcasting the shouted warning of God, the Compassionate, to a warrior people who are rushing headlong into destruction. A century earlier, the LORD had sent the prophet Jonah to Nineveh. That reluctant prophet did not want to share the mercies of God with a cruel nation that had conquered so much of the known world. Yet, at his five-word call to repentance, the whole nation, from the king on the throne to the lowest servant, put on sackcloth as a sign of humility and fasted, praying to God for His mercy. The nation of Nineveh has made a hard turn away from the LORD. She has returned to her sinful ways and is heading towards destruction that is complete and total. The LORD is described as “Jealous” because He is calling His people back to Himself—calling them away from their sinfulness. He longs for them and would rescue them. Dear reader, have you experienced the mercies of God in the past? Have you seen His great care and love poured out? Then these words are for you, today. God is jealous for your whole-hearted attention. In Christ, He made the way open to Himself. Hear this warning and turn to One Who is jealous for your whole heart and mind and strength. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Spirit of God to show you where you might be wandering from God, the Compassionate One, Who is jealous for your whole heart. Pray for renewed love and faithfulness to Him. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 31 – The Bible ends with a menu

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! – Revelation 19:9a Scripture reading: Revelation 19:1-10 The Bible begins and ends with a menu. It concludes with the marriage supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church. The focus is on celebration: table, food, fellowship and joy of heaven. This message contrasts to the hopeless message of our world which says this life is all there is, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Believers, however, live in the firm hope of the crucified and risen Lord, Who will raise up His betrothed bride to join Him at the marriage supper. A great multitude first sings their “Alleluias!” For God’s judgment on the harlot (vv.1-5). This is followed by more “Alleluias!” The marriage of the Lamb has arrived (vv.6-9). His wife has made herself ready. He robes her in fine linen. The wedding song climaxes with a table. The first song in the Bible is a wedding song. When God, the Father, gave a bride to Adam, Adam sang a song. The Bible also ends with a wedding song. This hymn marks Christ’s victory over all His and our enemies. A celebration follows. In providing salvation from sin through His sacrifice on the cross, the Lamb earned an abundance all at His cost. At this table, fellowship with God, in Christ, will be full and complete: no more sin, no more crying, no more loneliness. He freely offers this table for all who call upon Him in faith. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! Suggestions for prayer In a world broken by sin, loneliness and despair, pray that Christ may give you the joy and song that comes with trusting in Him for salvation. Pray that God may use you to share with others the joy of fellowship, a table and song found only in Christ. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 30 – The bountiful Tree of Life

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:2 Scripture reading: Revelation 22 Set before us is a scene of paradise restored. The pure river of life and the tree of life remind us of the Garden of Eden. Here, however, is not a single tree of life, but a forest of Trees of Life lining each side of the river. The blessing, which Adam forfeited through his disobedient eating, is now restored! In between these two Trees of Life stands another tree, the cross of Christ. He hung on a tree, bearing the curse for man’s disobedience (Galatians 3:13), for our salvation. Irenaeus remarks that by means of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we were made debtors to God. By means of another tree, the cross, debts are forgiven. The cross of Christ is for all who believe in Christ, a tree of life. By Him, we gain free access to the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is continually producing. It “bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.” Its supply never ends for the overcomers (2:7) and for those who do His commandments (22:14). The leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. The message of the cross gives life to the nations, healing the wounds of sin, shame and misery to all who repent and believe. This tree of life is nourishing believers now. The fullness of salvation and abundant feasting in paradise is yet to come. In our daily cross-bearing, are the joys of this never-ending life to come, yours? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the joy of the promises He sets before us in Christ. Pray that the Lord may use this promise to bring us to trust Him and to inspire us to greater faithfulness; that we may live our lives in hope and with great expectation. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 25 – Equally accepted by God

...for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. – Galatians 2:12 Scripture reading: Galatians 2:1-16 Antioch was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. It consisted of many nationalities and religions. Antioch was one of the first places where the good news of Jesus was preached to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. Many Gentiles from different backgrounds believed in Jesus. The new believers formed a church which became the base for the apostle Paul’s missionary travels. In one situation, the apostle Paul resisted the apostle Peter to his face. Why? Because Peter, by his actions, left the impression of a two-tiered membership in the church. There were the noble Jews who believed in Jesus, and then... Well... There were the others who believed in Jesus. Peter had enjoyed fellowship with the Gentiles and ate with them. But when a group of Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Antioch, Peter withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles, for fear of what the Jews would say. The rest of the Jews started playing along with Peter in his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, Paul’s helper, was carried away by the lie. The apostle Paul sets Peter straight with the truth of the gospel. Men and women, no matter the background, are justified by faith in Christ. All who believe are fully accepted by God and are accepted equally. At God’s table, He removes all ethnic and social barriers in our fellowship in Christ. Is this so in our fellowship and at our tables? Are we living by the truth of the gospel? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for how He continues to gather His church out of all nations. Pray that God will remove residual pride we may have because of our social rank or birth. May God help us to express this in our fellowship with one another. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 24 – Joy overflowing from tables to tables

So continuing daily in one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. – Acts 2:46 Scripture reading: Acts 2:22-47 Union with Christ, in His death and resurrection, manifests itself in the joy of the forgiveness of sins and the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This joy of belonging to Jesus is expressed here in verse 42 by ‘continuing steadfastly’, joining with other believers in hearing and learning God’s Word together, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in praying together. “In the breaking of bread together” indicates believers continued steadfastly in the sharing of meals, including the Lord’s Supper. Imagine the thrill of partaking of the Lord’s Supper which Christ had instituted about two months before. Do we experience this joy when we come to the Lord’s Table? Verse 46 also indicates that the joy in Jesus overflows from the Lord’s Table to the tables in the homes of fellow believers. In sharing their meals together, “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” The joy of forgiveness overflows in the sharing of goods, but also of the table. What an attractive reflection of God’s rich hospitality toward us in Christ! In our sad and joyless world, this joy is winsome. Take note of verse 47, “and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The ascended Christ summons us to join the feast! He gives the joy of forgiveness and of His Holy Spirit to all who believe. God promises that the “parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water…” (Isaiah 35:7a). Suggestions for prayer If you belong to the body of believers, thank the Lord for adding you to His body. Pray for courage to encourage others who say they believe but are not members of the body of Christ. Pray that this joy of belonging may manifest itself practically in our lives. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 23 – Word, table and mission

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him... – Luke 24:30,31 Scripture reading: Luke 24:13-35 Two disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus. They think Jesus, having been crucified, is dead. While walking, the risen Lord Jesus joins them. “But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (v.16). They reminisce about Jesus and their hopes that He was going to redeem Israel. Their hopes are dashed. All along, they are thinking the One walking with them is a stranger. How can Jesus break through this blindness? Jesus leads them through a Bible study. “...He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 27). The whole Bible speaks of Him. Only He can open our eyes to see Him and His glory. That evening, Jesus sits at the table with them. He breaks bread and gives it to them. Suddenly they come to know who He is. “He was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (v.35). At the beginning of history, man fell into sin by eating from the forbidden tree. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, ‘the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7). Here, the risen Lord Jesus breaks bread with the two disciples, “and their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (v.31). Jesus’ resurrection marks a new creation. By His Spirit, Christ uses his Word to open our eyes; He restores the table, and He sends us out on a mission to declare, “The Lord is risen indeed!” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your pastor as He brings the word of the risen Lord Jesus. Pray that many may come to know Jesus through His Word. Let us pray that, with the gift of the Word and Bread, our hearts may burn within us and share His work in our lives. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 22 – A forward-looking supper

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. – Matthew 26:29 Scripture reading: Matthew 26:17-30 The word ‘meal’ or ‘supper’ suggests celebration. People come together. Feasting, like singing, is a unique mark of God’s covenant people, those who belong to Jesus. In the Old Testament, this was the Passover meal, a meal celebrating God’s deliverance through the sacrificial lambs. It was a forward-looking meal. The Passover meal pointed ahead to Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb Who delivers His people from their sins through His sacrifice. The tokens are bread and wine by which the New Testament church proclaims Christ’s death till He comes. It’s fuller. It’s richer. This supper, this meal of remembrance, is like a wedding ring. A husband sees the ring which he has given his wife and his love goes out to her. And when she looks at the ring, she opens her heart to receive his love. This is what Jesus does when we sit at His supper. His love reaches out to us and we receive His love. We remember Jesus’ suffering and death for us on the cross, but this supper is also a victory-meal. He conquered sin, death and hell. And now through this feast, He, by His Spirit, also strengthens us to conquer sin and temptation. This supper is also forward-looking. We eagerly anticipate the feast in the consummation, when all who belong to Him by faith will have perfect fellowship with Jesus for all eternity. Peace shall follow battle. Night shall end in day. May these comforting words again be a blessing to you on this Lord’s Day. Suggestions for prayer Pray that our fellowship around the Lord’s Word and Table may be a feast of anticipation in which we look forward to the fellowship we will one day enjoy with Him. Thank God that He strengthens us for battle and renews our faith to live for Him. Suggested song: “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 17 – The Bridegroom has come!

And Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” – John 2:7-8 Scripture reading: John 2:1-11 Jesus honors marriage. He shows this by attending the wedding in Cana of Galilee. But at this wedding, He also performs His first sign and manifests His glory. He is the Bridegroom who has come to wed His sinful people. He shows this by bringing out their real need. The guests run out of wine at the wedding feast. In response to Mary’s concern, Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” What does having no wine have to do with Jesus’ hour having not yet come? His hour points to His atoning death on the cross for sinners. He is more than just Mary’s son. He is the Son. The Father sent Him to reconcile sinners to God through His sacrifice on the cross. Feasting and joy follow! Six pots, filled to the brim with water are changed to wine. This shows the fullness He brings. The Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ, to the brim. He fills to the full. He is the fulfillment, the seventh! The age of wine has come; the feasting, the joy of forgiveness of our sins in Christ and the fellowship with God through His suffering and death for all who trust in Him. As with Jesus’ disciples, may we see beyond the sign itself and see Him, His glory and believe. By trusting in Christ, this eternal joy is yours. The Bridegroom has come, the feast has begun, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9)! Suggestions for prayer Thank God, that in Christ, He cleanses you, adopts you and clothes you as His bride. Pray that in your daily struggle against sin and in your trials, you may not lose focus on Jesus, the wine of the kingdom. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 16 – Eat what is good

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. – Isaiah 55:2b Scripture reading: Proverbs 9:1-6; Isaiah 55:1-7  We are told by our physicians to "eat what is good." We say the same to our children, “Now, listen, eat what is good. Stay healthy.” The LORD, the physician of our souls, exhorts us, “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good…” What is good food and drink? The water, wine, milk and bread He freely offers. Come to the waters! Come, buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money, without price. It’s a compelling call to accept, by faith, the salvation He offers you in Christ. Don’t delay. His call is urgent if you want to live. Come! It’s free. Jesus paid the price for this food by shedding His blood on the cross for sins. Now He freely offers this food as a gift. He truly satisfies. Consider a life outside of Christ. You spend your money and expend your labor, but none of it truly satisfies. It’s "no-bread" at all. Your life is not full but empty. You toil and labor and you do not eat what is good. Rest in Christ who toiled and labored for the food He freely offers. It begins with listening to Him, to His Word. Put away your sinful and toilsome ways. Come, believe. Then you will eat what is good. Indeed, “Let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This is the secret to a spiritually healthy life. Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord may bless you by giving you a greater thirst for Christ and for eating what is good. Ask that your delight may be in the abundance He offers and to bring the required changes in your life to feast on Him. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 15 – The Lord’s banquet for all people

And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wine on the lees... – Isaiah 25:6a  Scripture reading: Isaiah 25 In this song of praise, the prophet Isaiah lifts up the glory and attributes of the LORD, our Redeemer. He praises Him for the salvation of His people and judgment of His enemies. The mountain of the Lord is Jerusalem, His people, the church. In verses 6-8, we hear the Lord’s promise to His people whom He saves from their sin, disgrace and reproach. In His grace, the LORD of hosts will reign among His people. She will be the place of the LORD’S banquet for all people. The feast consists of the best and choice food and drink. The LORD will remove the covering, the veil on the nations. This veil of sorrow is sin, misery and ultimately death. But He will swallow death. Then there is no longer cause for sorrow and mourning. By dying on the cross for sinners and rising from the dead, Christ swallowed up death in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54)! Jesus is the banquet for all people who trust in Him. From Him, the blessing of new life flows to all people. God’s promise is fulfilled in Christ today by His Spirit. God’s people look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus again when the promises will be fully realized. Death is swallowed up “and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). The Lord blesses us to be a blessing to all people. May you enjoy again, this Lord’s Day, the banquet in His house, His house for all nations. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you a heart to enjoy the banquet in His house this day. Pray that He may encourage you as you worship Him, hear His Word and fellowship with other believers. Sing Psalm 23, “The Lord’s My Shepherd.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 14 – Enjoy your Giver!

For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? – Ecclesiastes 2:25 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon presents two contrasting paths of life. As Jay Adams puts it, one path is “life under the sun”; the other is “life under the Son,” the Lord Jesus Christ. For the one who lives merely under the sun, without God, life is toilsome and empty. Sadly, this world and this life, then, is all there is. Nothing lasts. It’s a toiling under the sun (Ecccl. 2:18-20,22). Are you sickened by the thought that your dearest treasures will be lost at death or that your present efforts are in vain? Is it annoying that you have to leave it all to the man who comes after you? Come to God, humbly submitting to His Son Jesus, in faith. He frees us from the slavery to these toilsome idols to enjoy Him and others. Then you can enjoy His gifts. This is life under the Son! Then the things of this life no longer have a hold on us, for He holds us. Your labor is not in vain. You may enjoy your food. The blessings extend beyond this life to eternal glory! God calls us to put our hope in Him, “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). Enjoy your Giver. This is the secret to enjoying His gifts. Whether you have little or much, you are rich in Him. Trusting Him, you may confess with contentment, “For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I?” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may give courage to tear down our idols, what is most dear to us and serve Him alone. Ask Him to help you to enjoy Him by serving Him generously with the gifts He gives you. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 9 – A land flowing with milk and honey

You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples. – Leviticus 20:24 Scripture reading: Leviticus 20:22-26 There are many references in the Old Testament to the land “flowing with milk and honey.” This is an agricultural metaphor picturing the abundant fertility and richness of the land of Canaan. This was the Promised Land, the inheritance, which God promised His people. God saves His people not only from something, but also to something. When He rescued His people from the life of slavery in Egypt, He did not leave them in the wilderness. He brought His people into the land flowing with milk and honey. It is a picture of Eden. It also points to the reality of the new creation to come. They had a taste of it in the wilderness. The manna tasted “like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). In Jesus our Saviour, Who died and rose again from the dead, you also have a taste of it! If you trust in Christ, He has saved you from your old life and brought you into the promise of a new creation! This shapes how we live out our faith today. How so? Your life of faith is no longer to be shaped by the world and its futile ways. It is now shaped by the glorious promise of the new creation to come. You no longer belong to the nations. You belong to God. “I am the LORD your God.” How are His promises (“You shall inherit . . . I will give”) encouraging you in your journey of faith toward the promised land? Suggestions for prayer In light of many temptations and distractions, ask God to help us to keep our focus on the inheritance to come. May we faithfully serve Christ all our days. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 8 – A feast in God’s presence

But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank. – Exodus 24:11 Scripture reading: Exodus 24:1-11 It is the third month since God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. His people are at Mount Sinai in the wilderness. A special event takes place on this mountain: a wedding. The holy God, in His love and grace, weds His sinful people formally, entering into an intimate relationship with them. The wedding service continues from Exodus 19-24. The LORD reminds His people of what He has done for her (Exodus 20:1-2). He gave Himself for her. He calls His people to give herself to Him by faith, expressed in love and obedience (Exodus 20-23). How does she respond? “I do! All the words which the LORD has said we will do!” (24:3). But a blood sacrifice is essential for God to wed His sinful people. The blood of Jesus is pictured in the sacrifice of the oxen. Moses sprinkles half the blood on the altar; the other half he sprinkles on God’s sinful people. Without blood, this marriage cannot take place. The wedding ceremony ends with a feast in God’s presence. Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders see God, not His face lest they die, but His feet. They see Him, the Holy One, exalted on His throne. Yet God’s forgiven people eat and drink in fellowship with Him! Do you have peace with God through Christ, Who shed His blood for sinners? God justifies sinners by faith in Christ. In His fellowship with us this Lord’s Day, may we, by faith, anticipate the marriage feast to come. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that we may feast in His presence, Sunday by Sunday. May God keep us from growing cold in our relationship with Him. May we always prize it. As you prepare yourself for corporate worship, sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 7 – Grace for grumblers

For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. – John 6:33 Scripture reading: Exodus 16:1-12 One month earlier, God’s people departed from Egypt. God graciously delivered them and was leading them to the land flowing with milk and honey. In the meantime, they are in the wilderness. There is a crisis, a food crisis. How are they going to get food? They begin to cherish their old life in Egypt. There they sat by pots of meat and ate bread to the full! They impugn God for bringing them out into the wilderness, killing them with hunger. This is more than a food crisis. It is a faith crisis. God is testing them and their relationship with Him. May they come to know Him, His love and grace, as they learn to depend on Him. God answers their charges by graciously providing, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.” The Lord wants them to grow by depending on Him and by learning the discipline of trust. He emphasizes this through His gracious and miraculous provision of bread. He provides each day. Do not worry about tomorrow. Rest one day in seven. The Lord will provide. Trust Him. He brings you into a new pattern of life! God’s provision of bread in the wilderness points to His greater provision, Jesus, the true Bread from heaven! He gave His life as a sacrifice on the cross, even for grumblers. He gives life to all who trust in Him. That’s grace! Forsake your old life of grumbling. Depend on Him. He will graciously provide for all your needs. Suggestions for prayer Do you struggle with grumbling? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask the Lord to help you grow by depending more on Him and to grow in your discipline of trust, resting in Christ. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 6 – The feast of the Passover lamb

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. – 1 Corinthians 5:7b Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-13; Matthew 26:26-30 In Exodus 12, the supper follows the sacrifice; fellowship comes through the forgiveness of sins. God’s people were instructed to select a lamb without blemish, a one-year-old male. After slaughtering the lamb, they were to take some of its blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they ate it. God, as it were, was the Host offering His fellowship and food. Five times we read “eat” to describe eating the lamb in verses 8-11. So why did God instruct them to do this? God was going to pass through Egypt that night and bring His wrath on the land of Egypt. God’s people are equally deserving of His wrath due to their sin. Yet the LORD says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Notice, He does not say, “When I see you…” No, “when I see the blood…” In the shedding of the blood of the lamb, we see God’s provision of forgiveness of sin through the greater Lamb to come! Years later, at the last Passover meal, Christ stood before His disciples as the Passover Lamb. Through His perfect sacrifice on the cross, God secures forgiveness for all who trust in Jesus. Have you run to Christ for covering from God’s wrath? Don’t delay! God secures forgiveness and fellowship through Jesus, our Sacrifice. This fellowship, we see in a meal Christ instituted namely, bread and wine, as signs and seals of His fellowship with us. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the sacrifice of His Son Who became the Lamb for sinners. Ask Him to grow in your assurance that He passes over us, not because He sees us, but because He sees the blood of Christ covering us. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to August: on feasting and fellowship

I recall the words of one of my professors at seminary about how the Bible speaks so much about food and feasting. I never forgot those words. Serving as missionary-pastor, largely among family-based cultures who have immigrated from the East, the rich “eastern hospitality” brings us to the theme of food and feasting for this month. God’s people have more reason than anyone in the world to feast! Table, food, fellowship and feasting is covenantal. These are practical expressions of covenant, of living in a right relationship with God and of a new life in Christ lived in the power of His Spirit. Our hospitality is an overflow of God’s hospitality toward us. In His hospitality toward us in Christ, God opens His home to us with His Word and His Table. “Singing” is uniquely Christian. But “feasting” is also uniquely Christian. Why is it that the family of Christ, more than any other, has reason to feast and celebrate? Because in Christ, God defeated death, sin and Satan. Feasting follows victory. In Christ, we live among defeated, though real enemies. We live in the sure hope of the full victory to come when Christ returns. Feasting also marks fellowship. God is reconciling a people to Himself, in Christ, and to one another into one body, a people from every nation, tongue, language and people. The Bible begins and ends with a menu. The joyful gospel note is that He prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies. . . “ (Psalm 23:5). The Bible begins with a menu And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” – Genesis 1:29 Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26- 2:3 God ends the sixth day of creation by setting a table for man. The climax of the six days of creation is God’s gift of food. God creates man and He then offers him food. “See, I have given you…” A table is set for him. He provides the menu: “every herb that yields seed... And every tree whose fruit yields seed…” Creation shows that even an unfallen man was dependent on God for His provision. God is good. He is generous. But above all, in His gift of food, He, the Triune God, desires to share His love and His fellowship with man. He shows us that life and sustenance come from Him alone. God also desires to strengthen us so that we may carry out our callings to rule over the earth and subdue it for His glory. We eat so that we may serve Him for His glory. We are dependent on Him entirely for life and sustenance. This is what God wants us to see when He says, “I have given you…” Our food comes from His hand. “To you it shall be for food”. It’s His gift. God finds pleasure and delight in giving. He says, “See!” Or “Behold!” We find true satisfaction when we hunger for Him, the One Who opens His hand to satisfy our desires. On this Lord’s Day, may our worship inspire us to serve Him this coming week. Our appropriate response, each time again, is to give heartfelt thanks to Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may grow in our dependence upon Him. Pray that we do not give ourselves to worry, but give ourselves to Him by trusting Him to provide for our daily needs. Sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 31 – The Sojourner’s lasting hope

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. – 1 Peter 5:10 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:10-14 Peter wraps up his letter with an encouragement of hope, not a mere wish, but a joyful promise. The God of all grace will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. And God will get all the glory! He is the God of all grace and of every grace. Because He is our God, we know that from Him it is always grace. Through every circumstance, in every trial – all grace! Nothing but His tender and loving care, nothing but His working all things for our good and His glory. His all-sufficient grace is more than enough. Yes, you will have suffered, but only for a little while. The God of all grace has all of it under control. His is the glory and the dominion forever. The work He has begun in you, He will faithfully complete. He will establish you. He gives solid footing and promises that we shall not be moved from this confidence. Nothing will snatch us from His hands. We are weak, but He is strong. He will provide the strength we need to be the people He calls us to be. In all the dangers, toils and snares we are called to face as sojourners in exile, and over against all of our anxious cares, He promises to settle us, to ground us on His firm foundation. He will get all the glory. We are left with that great confidence. We are sojourners in exile, but we need not fear. We have living hope in the sovereign, loving God of all grace, in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for all the grace you receive from Him, in Jesus. Try to count the ways. Praise God for the hope and stability He gives you. Pray that He may equip you to live so He gets all the glory! Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 30 – Sojourners resist the Devil

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him. – 1 Peter 5:8, 9a Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:5-9 Being humble does not mean we are to be weak, timid or unengaged in the Christian life. The next exhortations make clear that humble servants are called to action: be sober, be vigilant, resist the devil! When we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and know that He cares for us, He picks us up and enables us to resist the devil-only then. Do not try this on your own. The devil is not a plaything. He is your enemy, the accuser. He is pleased to devour you with lies that lure you into disobedience. And, when you fall, he is pleased to paralyze you with guilt and fear, “I can’t believe you did that, God will never forgive you!” “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It’s not a matter of the flashy spiritual warfare tactics. You resist him, says Peter, when you are steadfast in the faith and stand firm with the Word of God. When you are tempted, you resist him when you go back to the Word and say, “It is written.” You stand firm in the faith when you draw near to God, cry out with prayer and supplication, casting all your cares on Him. These challenges are experienced by your brothers and sisters all over the world. But God is faithful. He has given us one another to encourage one another. He is the God of all grace! Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Suggestions for prayer Reflect on the schemes the devil is using as your enemy. Ask God to uphold and encourage you in His grace, to help you be steadfast in the faith. Pray for those who experience the same sufferings throughout the world. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 29 – Sojourners humble themselves

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6,7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:1-7 Have you ever been told to be more humble? You probably didn’t take it well. It’s humiliating. By nature, we have difficulty with Peter’s exhortation to humble ourselves. The challenge is not just for young people who need to submit to their elders. “All of you,” Peter says, “be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility.” Humility is what Christians should be known for. We may think humility might be the last thing sojourners in exile need. They are facing hostile opposition. Don’t they need courage and boldness? Yes, but that will only be found in the way of true humility under the mighty hand of God. Being humble is not the same as being weak or timid. It is not merely the absence of pride or awareness of our limitations. Christian humility recognizes our deep need for grace, for Jesus. We know we are not self-made people. We did not redeem ourselves. God resists the proud. Whenever we are arrogant so as to think we can do it ourselves, God will oppose that. It is like God is in our way. He is the most powerful opposition ever imagined. In all your distress, in all of life, humble yourself under His mighty hand and He will exalt you in His good time. When we stop looking to our heavenly Father, we fall into worry. Cast your cares on Him! Throw them all at the Lord’s feet with serious, helpless abandon. He is sovereign and wise – you are under His mighty hand. He is loving and good – He cares for you! Suggestions for prayer Reflect on all that you have in God’s grace and humbly give thanks. Ask Him to make you humble and dependent that you may thrive in His service. Take time to throw all your cares on Him. He is mighty and He cares for you. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 24 – Sojourners are serious about prayer

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

Daily devotional

July 23 – Sojourners are ready to do God’s will

...that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:2 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:1-6 When we think about what Christ has suffered for us, we find a new eagerness to say, “I am done with sin!” By nature, we were soft on sin. In our selfishness, we were committed to a life of ease and sinful, selfish pleasure. It was easy to slip into ways of living that were not good. But it was never helpful. It has not been God-glorifying and it has not been good for us. We want to say, with Peter: “Enough!” We need to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. It was always Christ’s commitment to do the will of His Father. We must arm ourselves with Jesus’ mindset. That will take effort and resolve, but because of Christ’s glorious work, it becomes something we want to do, and by God’s grace, are able to do. It will also mean there will be those who think you are weird, and who will wonder, “Hey, why don’t you run with us in these wicked ways like you used to?” It will not be easy. Arming yourself with the mind of Christ means you will think of what you have received in Christ and think of who you have become, in Christ. Judgment is coming. Knowing this puts a different perspective on our lives and those who may taunt us. Those who taunt us are in danger. There should be no joy and no pride over them. That is why the gospel is preached! They need the gospel just like you did, and they need to hear it from you. Suggestions for prayer Ask yourself, have I had enough of sin? Ask God to arm you with the mind of Christ, with joy in what He has suffered for you, and with a readiness to do His will. Pray for grace to speak gracious gospel words to those who think it strange of you. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 22 – Sojourners hope in their baptism

There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 3:21  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22 The great, worldwide flood of Noah’s day was one of the most momentous events in history. In our passage, Peter also makes reference to the Great Flood and says it is a picture of what is promised to us in our baptism. Your baptism is that momentous. Just as believing Noah and his family were saved through water, your baptism now saves you. Amid all the challenges we face as sojourners in this world, it is a wonderful blessing to be able to answer the question, “How do I know I am a Christian?” In the same way the Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin would have answered it: “I have been baptized!” We know of course that salvation is not the result of a ceremony. We know people can presumptuously rest in their baptism without resting in Jesus, by faith. Baptized people who remain unrepentant will drown in the waters of their baptism. It is not the ceremony, not the water, not the physical washing of dirt from the body. It is the answer of a good conscience; the realization that the answer is Jesus. Our appeal is to Jesus. In Jesus and by His resurrection we know the blessing of all that is promised us in baptism. There is something deeply comforting for us in all our struggles, and over against all our failings, to be able to say that my hope is not my righteousness, or in my efforts, but in the promises of God, signified and sealed to me in my baptism. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your baptism. Use your baptism and take hold of everything God has promised to you and your children by it, taking hold of Jesus. Appeal to God for a good conscience, leading to blessed assurance and a consistent life. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 21 – Sojourners are always ready to speak of hope

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. – 1 Peter 3:15 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:13-17 People who seem to have an answer for everything can be a bit annoying. Peter also encourages us always to be ready with an answer, but this answer is: hope in Jesus. It is not annoying, but precious. It is not obnoxious, but comes with grace, meekness and fear, gentleness and respect. We recognize that our day is much like Peter’s day. We should expect that standing with Jesus will bring us into some difficulty. He asks – who is going to harm you for following what is good. And the ultimate answer is, no one! But sometimes you will still suffer. Don’t be surprised. Don’t fear what the rest of the world fears. Here is the secret: Jesus is your Lord! He is Lord of your life, Lord of history and Lord of your present circumstances. He is your hope! Our confidence is not only that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), but that we know Jesus is with us (Matthew 28:20). Then we cannot help but speak of this glorious hope. So now we seek to lead “questionable” lives. That is, we seek to live in such a Christ-like way that it raises questions and people ask, “What is it with you?!” And we may answer, “It’s not me, it’s Jesus; it’s the hope I have, in Jesus.” Our goal must never be to taunt unbelievers with pride or smugness. Our gracious gentleness and respect will come from the deep realization that we have this hope only by God’s amazing grace. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to live in the fear of God and not in the fear of man. Ask Him to help you to lead a gracious, godly life that provokes questions and to make you ready to speak of your hope in Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 16 – Sojourners endure hard things

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

Daily devotional

July 15 – Sojourners are free to serve

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. – 1 Peter 2:15,16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:13-17 Peter continues to flesh out the importance of doing good before a watching world. Do it as those who are free! By God’s grace, we are free from having to earn our salvation, free from guilt, and from the ruling power of sin in our lives. We are free from worrying about what other people think, or what the world is going to do to us. We are free from being selfishly concerned about ourselves. We are free from being enslaved to the lie that we are going to have our best life now. We are free to live and love. But, we are not free to live as we please nor sin. We are free to serve. Do not live as those who have no time for the world around them. Do not think yourself above the laws of the land: love your city, your region and your country. Submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. Obey the speed limit, pay your taxes, be a model citizen, seek to be a blessing to your neighbor – for the Lord’s sake. That means you honor God when you honor people and when you submit to the government in all things lawful. It means when you know you are being asked to do something God forbids, you are free and required to stand with God. But remember that it also means that your humble, grace-filled posture can be used by God for the silence and salvation of those who still need to know Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for all the ways you are free in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to help you to use your freedom to be a servant, to live as a good citizen for the silencing and salvation of unbelievers. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 14 – Sojourners abstain from fleshly lusts

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. – 1 Peter 2:11 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:9-12 Peter has just reminded and encouraged his readers in the fact that they are chosen and precious to God. Beloved, he calls us. We are deeply loved. But that does not mean that the sojourning life is always going to be easy. In the life of the sojourner, we should expect serious challenge and opposition. Peter becomes very urgent here, I beg you, he says, to abstain from fleshly lusts. Stay entirely away from sinful desires. Any of us who know ourselves will know that the warning Peter gives is serious, urgent and necessary. Should we ever think that we have gotten beyond the need for this kind of challenge, we would be deceiving ourselves. Sinful desires must not be given an inch in our lives. They war against our souls! When we flirt or dabble with sin, and become more comfortable with unconfessed sin, our souls are in danger of being numbed and destroyed. I beg you, Peter says, take this seriously. Remember, you are sojourners. Remember who you are and where you are headed. Remember your purpose, to proclaim God’s praises in everything you do! It is not going to be easy. You can expect people may even begin to call your desire for obedience, evil. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be haughty. Don’t give up. Seek to do good. Keep proclaiming His praises. Be encouraged. It could very well be that God uses what others see and hear from you, to bring those people to glorify God too! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you deal honestly with sinful desires in your life. Ask Him for persevering grace to live godly lives and to speak well of God even to those who may be speaking evil of you. Praise God that He will use even our witness to let the nations praise Him! Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 13 – Sojourners are God’s own special people

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10 You are special! And don’t you ever forget it. Have you ever been encouraged by being told you are special? How about knowing that is what God thinks about you? Building on rich Old Testament language from when God called His old covenant people into existence (Exodus 19:5,6), Peter is saying all those things about believers! You are a holy nation, a royal priesthood. You are God’s own special people. You are chosen and precious! It’s not flattery; it’s not empty talk. It’s not just saying something to make you feel good, like the kind of meaningless gestures we see today when everyone gets a ribbon at the race. This is who you are, in Christ, the chosen and precious One! And it’s all by grace. By the same powerful Word by which the Lord spoke and called light into existence from nothing, He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The life we come to know in Christ is just as powerful, amazing and miraculous. Remember where we came from. Once we were not a people, now we are the people of God. Once we had not known mercy and now God has shown us mercy! We brought nothing to the table, yet this is what God has done for us, His own special people. Don’t ever forget it! Doesn’t that make you want to shout His praises! In fact, as these verses tell us, that is exactly what it’s all about. That is our great task and privilege now as sojourners – proclaim His praises! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for calling you out of darkness. Ask God to help you always remember that in Christ you are chosen and precious. Ask Him to help you to shout His praises so others can know this blessing too. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Sojourners know Jesus’ blood is precious

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

Daily devotional

July 7 – Sojourners’ hope leads to holiness

...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15,16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13-16 After assuring us with the riches of the blessed hope that is ours as sojourners by God’s grace to us, in Jesus, Peter arrives at the inevitable call to holiness: Be holy, because God is holy. So, be like God. Not so easy, right? The bare command leads either to despair in the defeated recognition, “I can’t!” Or, it leads to arrogant, self-confident Pharisaical pride that says, “Of course, look at me!” But, as a bare command, this call to holiness actually is unattainable for us. Thanks be to God, it never comes to us in Scripture in that way. In the Bible, the call to holiness always comes in the context of hope. Hope leads to holiness. As sojourners set apart from sin and devoted to God, we want to be holy as God is holy. But we have probably learned the hard way that holiness is not attained by our seeking to do more and trying harder. Peter encourages us that it comes by setting our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do you want to be holy? Remind yourself of the grace God has shown you in Christ. Rest in that. Take your stand again in that. Then you can be forward-looking in hope. You know there will always be more grace. It’s that hope that gives us an eagerness, willingness and the ability to want to be like God. Pray it will show in grace-filled, hopeful lives that set you apart. Suggestions for prayer Reflect on whether the call to holiness causes you to despair, or to boast. Ask for God’s grace to overcome both. Thank God for the holiness that is ours in the Holy One (1 Corinthians 1:30). Pray for growth in hope-filled holiness and pray that it will be seen. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 6 – News so good, even angels can’t get enough

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you… things which angels desire to look into. – 1 Peter 1:10,12b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:10-12 Have you ever been so excited about good news that you were sitting on the edge of your seat? Well, the good news of our salvation is something that has the angels on the edge of their seats. They can’t get enough of it. The angels have always been enthusiastic cheerleaders of God’s great work. When they witnessed God’s speaking the physical world into existence at Creation, they sang for joy! (Job 38:7). When Jesus was born, the heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:14). At Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, they sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Revelation 5:12). When one sinner comes to repentance, they rejoice with God in heaven (Luke 15:7,10). It is like they are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens next. Prophets in the past received a faint outline of what was to come. By God’s grace and by His Spirit, we have come to see the suffering and glory of Jesus in its full accomplishment! It’s like the difference between receiving a message by Morse code and seeing something in technicolour on an ultra-HD TV; only what we have come to know in Christ is even far, far more glorious. Jesus did suffer. He completed His atoning work. He is glorified! Now, by God’s Word and Spirit, we know that this hope of glory is ours. If even the angels can’t get enough of this, shouldn’t we also desire to look into this blessing more? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the finished Word and work of Christ. Thank Him for the work of the Spirit in helping us to see and know the hope that is ours because of the suffering and glory of Jesus. Pray for a desire to know and appreciate this blessing more. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 5 – Sojourners love Jesus

, Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. – 1 Peter 1:8 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:6-9 Sometimes trials are all we see. We don’t see Jesus, only hardship. That is where faith comes in. What can keep sojourners going amidst trials? Only the love and presence of Jesus! When Peter denied Jesus three times, he failed the test. Then, Jesus catches his eye with a look of love (Luke 22:61) and Peter weeps bitterly. But Jesus had prayed for Peter, died for him, rose again and pursued him in love. Jesus asked him the simple question – do you love me? By God’s grace Peter could respond, “Lord, you know all things, you know I love you!” (John 21:17). Peter was graciously restored in the love of Jesus. Peter was an eyewitness of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16), but we have not seen Him. Maybe you think that makes it harder for us, but remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe” (John 20:29). By God’s grace we are blessed to say, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), He loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20). We love Him because we know He is with us in the furnace of affliction (Daniel 3:25). We love Him because we know nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). We love Him because the salvation of our souls is certain! So, though trials may be all we see, we can “rejoice with joy inexpressible.” We can’t even find words to express our joy. We love you, Jesus! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His love to you in Jesus. Speak to God of your love for Jesus for Who He is and what He has done. Ask Him for help to show your love for Him to all around you. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 30 – Remember your vows

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

Daily devotional

June 29 – The mystery of the one flesh

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5:31-32 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:18-25 God not only created Eve from Adam’s rib, but God officiated the very first wedding ceremony when He walked Eve down the aisle, as it were, and presented her to Adam. God created a woman to solve the problem of Adam’s loneliness, “It is not good that man should be alone.”  God created a help-meet for Adam to fulfill the cultural mandate “Be fruitful and multiply...” The concept of “one flesh” is more than the emotional and physical aspect of marriage between husband and wife (although it includes that). The “more” is described in verse 32 “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  The more” of the marriage union is to reflect the oneness, the intimacy of the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Already from the dawn of creation, God instituted marriage not only for the propagation of the human race, the furtherance of the kingdom of God, or even the enrichment of the lives entering this state, but the “more” of marriage. Marriage is a symbol of the union of Christ and His Church. Therefore, marriage is a mystery because it reveals something far greater. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman to reflect the covenant relationship between Christ and His Church. Marriage is therefore ultimately for God’s glory! Whether single or married, is this true of our view and goal of marriage? Suggestions for prayer May our view of marriage reflect the covenantal relationship between Christ and His Church to the praise and glory of our 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 28 – Leave and cleave

For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. – Ephesians 5:31 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:18-25 Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church is an unbreakable, inseparable bond. He allows nothing and no one to come between and destroy this union. So too, a husband is to leave his father and mother and be united to his wife in an unbreakable-inseparable bond. Literally, they are glued or cemented together. This speaks to both the unity and the permanence of the marriage union. What God has joined together let not man separate. With every marriage, God establishes a new Christian home where the husband is the head and the wife is his help-meet. Both husband and wife are no longer under the authority and responsibility of their parents, but they are now one! They are now inseparable. However, when parents refuse to let go and attempt to control or meddle in their lives, they are a hindrance to the bond of unity between the husband and wife. They are marriage breakers by not allowing the husband and wife the freedom or ability to fulfill their God-ordained roles in marriage.  So too, if a man fails to leave his parents, he not only fails as head of his home, but his wife is no longer appreciated as his primary help-meet. The unbreakable bond that binds husband and wife becomes unglued. Why? All because the husband has not left father and mother and cleaved to his wife. Leave and cleave is God’s standard for marriage. Suggestions for prayer Help couples to adhere to God’s standard to leave and cleave in order to maintain the unity and permanence of the marriage bond. 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 27 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (3)

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. – Ephesians 5:28-29 Scripture reading: Psalm 34 Today is the Lord’s Day. Look at how the Lord our God so graciously provides for His Church because we are members of His body. He feeds and nourishes our souls today through the proclamation of the Word of God and by the administration of the sacraments. Everything we need for body and soul, in life and in death, He provides through His Son. Lovingly, He provides for Her. He protects Her. He nourishes and cherishes Her. She lacks no good thing. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. There is no want for those who fear Him. And now, in like manner husbands are to love their wives! Love them as they love and care for their own bodies. Love them and care for them as Christ loves us as members of His Body. As a husband will do his own body no harm, so too, he does his wife no harm. He loves and nourishes her as he does his own body. Love knows no limits in the care and concern he shows and showers upon her. He supplies her with all she needs physically, emotionally and spiritually. Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. She is to be loved as a God-given treasure, as man’s gift from God entrusted into our loving hands to give her warmth, comfort, protection, and security. Suggestions for prayer Just as God shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, so too, may husbands love their wives as their bodies. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

June 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 20 – A Spirit-filled Christian gathers for worship

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25 Scripture reading: Psalm 95 Will you be attending the worship services today? Why or why not? Already in the early church, there were those who neglected the gathering together to worship God on the Lord’s Day. Maybe you have a legitimate reason: health, infirmity, work of necessity. But what about the rest of us? As Spirit-filled Christians, let us take heed to the call to worship and not neglect the gathering together of God’s people today. Let us enter with joy as we receive the Lord’s greeting and depart with His blessing. Let us prepare our hearts in eager anticipation of partaking of the means of grace: the faithful preaching of the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments. Let us unite our hearts in praise as we sing unto the Lord. Let us offer up our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication. Let us rejoice in the promise of the gospel as we listen to the Law. Let us express our unity in faith as we recite the Apostles’ Creed. Let us give unto the Lord with liberality as the Lord has richly blessed us. True worship, worship in spirit and truth in accordance with the Word of God is pleasing unto the Lord, essential for the building up of our faith, and is necessary for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Suggestions for prayer May God fill our hearts with the Spirit that we may long to worship the Lord our 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 19 – A Spirit-filled life is submissive

…submitting to one another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:21 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 Evidence of a Spirit-filled life is made manifest in our “submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  Quite literally, Spirit-filled Christians rank themselves under one another. Even within the Godhead, Jesus, in His humility, submitted Himself to the will of His Father though He is one and equal with the Father. We are to submit to our civil authorities whom God has appointed over us in all things not contrary to the Word of God (Romans 13:1-7). We are to submit to the office-bearers of the church whom the Holy Spirit has made overseers to shepherd the church (Acts 20:28), and who keep watch over our soul (Hebrews 13:17). Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (5:22). Children are to obey their parents (6:1). Employees are to be obedient to their employers (6:5). To maintain good order within the various spheres of life instituted by God, He commands us to submit to one another. Refusal to submit is a sin and results in disunity and chaos from which we must repent. And yet, submission is hard – real hard!  Why? Because of our sinful rebellious nature. We all insist upon our rights, our ways and our opinions. We live in an age of entitlement. Pride and arrogance trump humility and submission. And yet, a Spirit-filled Christian is a mutual submitting Christian. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a spirit of Christ-like humility that we may submit to one another. May we submit to one another as the Holy Spirit empowers and enables us to do so. 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 12 – Walk as children of light

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10; 5:8-14 In verses 1-7, we are commanded to be imitators of God’s love. And now, in verses 8-14, we are commanded to be imitators of God walking as children of light. The apostle Paul begins by reminding these new converts of their former status, “For you were once darkness…” In chapter 2, Paul gives us a portrait of their former way of life prior to their coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ. They were alienated from God. They walked in spiritual and moral darkness. They not only walked in darkness, but they were darkness personified and loved the darkness. But now, by the grace of God, their former way of life is a thing of the past. Born again of the Spirit, their once spiritually dead hearts are made alive in Christ. God called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. GRACE has afforded them a new life!  Grace has set them upon a new road, with a new purpose and a new eternal destination to the praise and glory of God. On account of God’s marvelous grace and their spiritual transformation by the Holy Spirit, God now issues a command, “WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!  What were you – past tense? For you “were” once darkness. And now, what are you?  “You are light in the Lord.”  Therefore, “Walk as children of light!” Amazing grace! Suggestions for prayer Help us to realize just how amazing grace really is, that we are no longer darkness, but are light in the Lord, called 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 11 – Do not be partakers with them

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:5-7 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 As dear children of our heavenly Father, we must NOT join with those of the world who are engaged in such sins and wickedness. We are NOT to be partakers with them who are at enmity with God and who defy the ways and wisdom of God. God commands us, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” God calls us to be holy, that is, called by God, unto God, for God, to the praise and glory of God. We live in two very opposing worlds while serving two very different masters with different beliefs, values, goals, motives and lifestyles. We cannot attempt to live life with one foot in the kingdom of God and the other in the world. In James 4:4 we read, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  The warning is repeated in 1 John 1:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” What accord has Christ with the Belial?  Do not be a partaker with them. Suggestions for prayer Help us by your grace and Spirit not to love the world or to imitate the world by being partakers with the world, but rather help us to be imitators of God as His dear children.      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

June 4 – Be imitators of God’s forgiveness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Matthew 18:21-35 Following the reading of the Law in our liturgy is the Assurance of Pardon whereby we are reminded that God is a merciful God, Who in Christ Jesus forgives us all our sins. As it says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In like manner, we are commanded to imitate God by forgiving those who acknowledge and confess their sins and ask for our forgiveness. In all such cases, we must forgive. As in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, we who are the recipients of God’s mercy, who have been forgiven this enormous debt, must then also forgive others their relatively minor infractions committed against us. Forgiving others is most basic to imitating the very nature of a merciful and forgiving God. But then, we often find ourselves to be much more like the unmerciful servant in the parable. We’re unforgiving. We hold grudges. We seek revenge. We gossip and slander. And yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us about such an unforgiving spirit “But if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  As Christians, we must reflect the forgiving nature of our forgiving God by forgiving others. Suggestions for prayer May we imitate the forgiving spirit of our Father in heaven Who in Christ so freely forgives us. 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 3 – Be imitators of God’s tenderheartedness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Luke 10:25-37 Being tender-hearted can also be defined as being compassionate, big-hearted, showing pity, sorrow, sympathy and having empathy toward those who are suffering or in need. This tender-heartedness or compassion prompts us into action. It’s not enough to have compassion only to walk away and do nothing. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God’s compassion upon His covenant people when they were enslaved in Egypt and wandered the desert for forty years. In spite of their constant murmuring, rebellion and unfaithfulness a tender-hearted God was long-suffering. He provided for all their needs. He protected them and delivered them into the Promised Land. Throughout the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ compassion for the poor, the sick, the hungry and the social outcasts. The pinnacle of Jesus’ compassion was His response to our need for a Saviour by laying down His own life on Calvary’s cross, as an atoning sacrifice for all our sin. Being tender-hearted is more than just feelings – it is compassion put into action. As the Parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates, we don’t just walk around the physically and spiritually needy, but we rise to the occasion to actually help others in their need. Being tender-hearted often involves commitment and sacrifices. It often comes at a personal price. Since God is so tender-hearted toward us undeserving sinners, how much more, as imitators of God, should we not also be tender-hearted and compassionate toward others? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may be big-hearted Christians who show the compassion and love of Christ to those in need. 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 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 27 – The Most High rules the kingdoms of men

That the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men. – Daniel 4:17 Scripture readings: Romans 13:1-7; Daniel 4:13-18 Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream is fulfilled soon after he receives it in order to send a message that the LORD is sovereign over all. There is a lesson for us in this as well. We learn, by way of contrast, that the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom and the greatest way to escape the foolish pride and arrogance of living in our own strength. Living a self-centred life does not always have the catastrophic consequences that it did for Nebuchadnezzar, but it does result in a drifting away from God and a distancing of oneself from His care and protection. Who needs protection or mercy if you are strong and right? This is the boast of our own sinful hearts until the Lord intervenes to make us appreciate again how much we need Him in our lives. He appoints kings and councillors and numbers their days. He designates the length of a kingdom’s duration and sets the borders of nations with an authority that our international governing bodies do not possess. Moses, in Psalm 90, reminds us that our regular petition to the LORD should be to, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” ”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Let us learn from the LORD how He shows His favour to the lowly and gives grace to the humble who trust and believe in Him! Suggestions for prayer Teach us to number our days. Transform our hearts with godly wisdom and contentment. Humble us that we may receive Your grace. 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....

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8