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Daily devotional

October 24 – If the Lord wills

If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that – James 4:15

Scripture reading: James 4:13-17

COVID19 has made us rethink a lot about planning. The culture we live in can make us think, “Today or tomorrow we will do this or that and make a profit.” James says when we do this we are really playing God, thinking we are in control of our future. If good things happen in our business or any other part of our lives, it is only because God has allowed it to happen. When James compares us to a mist that appears for a little while and is gone, he is saying we are as in control of our lives as a mist is in control of its future.

God wants us to see that He is in control, and things happen only when He allows them. That is why he tells us to think and say, “If the Lord wills”. To do otherwise is to be arrogant or proud, believing we are in control. James says living from this proud perspective is evil. It is not living by the understanding that our lives are in the hands of our Lord and God. James is not saying we are not to make plans, but to make plans with the understanding that they can only be successful if God allows.

To say, “If the Lord wills”, is to say, “God you are my Lord, my treasure and I know you love me; if you allow my plans to succeed I will be thankful, and if you don’t allow them to succeed, I am okay with it, because you know best.”

Suggestions for prayer

That we would have the ability to truly say and mean, “If the Lord wills.”

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 16 – Faith without works is dead

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. – James 2:24 Scripture reading: James 2:20-26 One of the main points of the reformation was the confession that we are saved by faith apart from works. Paul often mentions this in his letters. Yet James writes that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Being justified is being treated as if you did nothing wrong according to God’s judgment. To understand what James is getting at we need to look at the two examples he gives: Abraham’s faith was demonstrated by his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Rahab showed her faith by her actions in hiding the spies and sending them in a different direction. She was willing to give up her allegiance to the city of Jericho and put her trust in the God of Israel. To have a true saving faith, it must also change us so that we, in our trust and allegiance to God, are willing to sacrifice anything. If Jesus is your Saviour, He must also be your Lord, the One to whom you listen, obey, and are willing to sacrifice for. Jesus said if we are not willing to give up possessions and people in our dedication to Him we are not really His disciples. In this way, James is not arguing against being saved by faith, but is challenging us to reflect on what type of faith we have. Suggestions for prayer That our faith in Jesus Christ would show itself in real actions of dedication and sacrifice to Jesus and His Kingdom and so prove to be real and saving faith.  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 8 – The good and perfect gifts of God

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. – James 1:17 Scripture Reading: James 1:16-18 Today we look at the opposite of trials and temptations: good and perfect gifts. James tells us that God is the provider of any good gift we receive. He allows the sun to shine and the rain to fall so the crops can grow. God has not abandoned this earth, but allows good things to happen even to wicked people who reject Him. We live in a world where there is relative peace, with doctors and nurses to care for people, schools where children and young people can learn, and agencies who help people. This is God’s good providential hand in the world. James wants us to remember that our heavenly Father also gives us perfect gifts in his Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we receive the forgiveness of sins, everlasting life, adoption into the family of God and a place in heaven and the new earth. These are perfect not only in their goodness, but also in their stability. No one can take these perfect gifts from us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. These gifts are also for all times. God does not change, He offered these gifts to people thousands of years ago and they are just as precious and sure today. We see that God has worked this faith in us by His precious Word of Truth, the good news of Jesus Christ, so we can be kind of first-fruits. First fruits, in that we witness to others that they also can have these precious and perfect gifts through faith in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray we will show thankfulness for the good and perfect gifts with which we have been blessed and be a witness to others that they also can thank our Lord for wonderful and perfect gifts. 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 30 – The authority of God challenged

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. – Nahum 1:7 Scripture reading: Luke 20:1-8 Who are you to tell me what to do? Have you ever heard that before? If the person instructing us is not an appropriate authority figure, then perhaps the command he is giving does not need to be obeyed. The same question can be asked here as we conclude our study of Nahum? Who is the LORD that He should tell the people of Nineveh what to do? Well, He is the Powerful One, Ruler of Heaven and Earth Who has the power to bless and the power to curse, the power to save and the power to make a complete end of His adversaries. He proved that when the prophet Jonah spoke to the Ninevites a century before this. The covenant nation of Israel challenged Jesus’ authority. They were looking for any excuse to turn from obedience and to hold to man-made rules and laws. Nahum shows us several things which the chief priests and scribes and elders ought to have understood. The Spirit inspired men to write down the prophesies so that men might believe and believing turn away from sin and turn to the LORD in reverent obedience and thanksgiving. In every age and every generation, the LORD showed His authority—He did exactly as He said He would do. As we read the Bible we too learn of the power of the Living God. Greater than our fear of punishment and hell, should be our awe and thankfulness that God in His mercy should reveal Himself to us and invite us to know Him and walk with Him. Suggestions for prayer That we read the Bible with greater attention to see the power and authority of God over nations and history and by growing in our realization that He has all authority to instruct us in holy living. Praise God for His great patience in teaching us, His wayward leaning people, so that we should know that the LORD is good. 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 22 – Living defensive stones

Draw water from the siege; strengthen your forts; go into the clay; tread the mortar; take hold of the brick mold!  – Nahum 3:14 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12 If you have a good study Bible while reading Nahum, you’ll have a footnote about this section teaching you that the imperatives, or command forms of the verbs used here are mocking in tone. Something to the effect of: “Go ahead, make all these plans, do all this work.” When the plunderers come to invade a walled city, the usual strategy of preparation for the defenders is to bring in as much water as possible. Marauding armies would encircle a city and starve it out. Obviously, food and water would be critical for the residents to withstand the siege. While studying in preparation to write this devotion I learned that this verse refers to two kinds of Assyrian bricks. The first, clay bricks, were ordinarily used for building. The second reference is to those used for fortifying the defences of the city—bricks that would be molded and fired in a kiln. Again, all such preparations are going to be pointless as their destruction has already been foretold by the LORD and His Word is sure. Interestingly, Peter calls Christians living stones, chosen by God and precious. As Christians gather together, we are being built up as a spiritual house. We are the new temple where Jesus lives in and among His people. We are a defensive structure built up together to defeat the hostile forces of the world and gathered as a holy nation that declares the excellencies of God Who rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the people of God would recognize how the Spirit fits us together in Jesus Christ, for the glory of the Father and the defense of the Church against the enemy. Give thanks to God, the Triune God of every blessing, for the gift of the Church. 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 14 – Humbly serve the living God

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. – Jonah 3:6 Scripture reading: Nahum 3:1-4 and Jon. 3 About one century before this prophecy of Nahum, the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD. He judged them and the people repented at Jonah’s preaching. They humbled themselves by fasting, wearing sackcloths and confessing their sins. So great was their repentance that the LORD withdrew His hand of judgment and punishment. The Ninevites returned to the true purpose which should guide every nation: to humbly serve the Living God. How quickly the Ninevites fell from that place of obedience! They were again a people who shed blood to the point that this capital was called a bloody city. They offered abominable sacrifices to false gods. They were full of lies about their own pre-eminence, about their history and their place in it. They were a people who ruthlessly made war against others. They were a nation that prostituted itself for plunder and pride, victory and perversity. Jesus noted that the work of the Spirit is to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). When the standard of God’s holiness is presented, the hearers are presented with a stark choice of obedience or rebellion. We should not be surprised when hearers rebel. It is painful because we speak and preach Christ from the joy of knowing our sins have been thrown down and His righteousness has taken hold of us. Scripture commands people to glorify God: seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Believer, humbly serve the Living God. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you examine your life so that you are not being pulled in several directions, but your heart and your head are focused on Christ and serving Him in every area of your life. 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 6 – An oracle, a burden

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. – Nahum 1:7 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1, 6-7 and Proverbs 13:1-5 Happy Labour Day! It is part of the creation order for men and women to work. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them the instruction to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15). Work can also be a burden. Nahum declared, as the superscription to his writing, “an oracle concerning Nineveh.” That word oracle is an important one to understand. The KJV translates this word oracle as burden. Think of it this way. A Christian parent might say, I have a burden for my children. I know they are grown up and have moved away, but I am still burdened for them, concerned because they have wandered far from the LORD our God and the mercies of Jesus Christ. What will such a burdened parent do? A loving mother will go to the throne of grace, where Jesus is seated and pray for her dearly loved children. A faithful father will speak, warning his children, so they know they are removing themselves far from the blessings of God. Nahum’s inspired use of the word oracle shows he is not celebrating the downfall of Israel’s enemies. He is urgently concerned for their salvation at that time and in eternity. He is aware that the punishment of the Living God is beyond anything humans can inflict. To live a life mocking the Holy One is to invite His wrath. No wonder Nahum was burdened. As long as God granted him breath, he would work to speak, calling for repentance. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of work and pray to be faithful in the task He has given you; pray, as one burdened, for the salvation of family members, friends and co-workers who do not know Jesus Christ and His glorious 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

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 29 – Eating from the Tree of Life

To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. – Revelation 2:7b Scripture reading: Revelation 2:1-7 What a rich, full promise, Christ gives to him who perseveres in faith to the end. “I will give to eat from the tree of life.” Christ praises this church for her works, labor and patience; yet He rebukes her for leaving her first love. He warns that if she does not repent, He will take away her lampstand. He then praises the church for her firm stand against the works of the Nicolaitans. It seems these false teachers, the Nicolaitans, were not staying away from the immoral and idolatrous feasts and were trying to tempt the members of the church with their sinful practices. To the one who is loyal to Christ and perseveres in his love for Him to the end, Christ promises to offer something better than food offered to idols. He will be given ”to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” After Adam’s sin, the way to the tree of life in the garden was cut off, its entrance guarded by the cherubim (Genesis 3:22-24). But in Christ and through the shedding of His blood on the cross for sinners, God opens the way into fellowship with Him again, forever. This Lord’s Day we have the privilege to fellowship with Him, in His garden, through Word, song, prayer and sacrament. To all who persevere by faith, Christ gives the promise to eat of the tree of life. This fellowship in God’s presence will be full, rich, complete and forever! Suggestions for prayer Pray that, this Lord’s Day, you may grow in the assurance of God’s love and that through faith, encouraged by His promises, you may joyfully persevere in your love for Him. Sing this song of assurance: “I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace.” 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 21 – Still there is room

...and still there is room. – Luke 14:22b Scripture reading: Luke 14:15-24 A guest sitting with Jesus in the Pharisee’s home, exclaims, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus responds with a parable about a certain man who gave a great supper and invited many. Those invited were God’s people, the Jews. Through the prophets of the Old Testament, they received this glorious invitation. With the coming of Christ, the feast has come! The master sends his servant out saying to the invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.” But all gave lame excuses for why they could not come. Being upset, he now sends his servant into the streets and lanes of the city, saying “Bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” They were the outcasts and underprivileged among the Jews who were coming to Jesus. Bring them in; that is, take them by the hand. Why? Because they might have serious doubts. Could the banquet table really be for them? Still there is room. God wants His house filled. The master then sends his servant outside the city, “into the highways and hedges”, compelling them to come into the banquet, God’s kingdom. These are the Gentiles; that is, outsiders and strangers. Nothing is said about the servant completing his commission. Why? Because this commission to Christ’s church continues today. Still there is room. Have you responded to Christ’s summons to come? Or is some excuse stopping you? How is God using you to fill up His festal house? Suggestions for prayer Pray for those you know who are making excuses for not coming to Christ. Pray that the love of Christ may compel you to compel others to come to Christ and that they may be drawn by His love in His people. 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 13 – The witness of God’s open hand

You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. – Psalm 145:16 Nevertheless, He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. – Acts 14:17 Scripture reading: Psalm 145:8-16; Acts 14:8-18 See the beauty and splendor of God in this Psalm. He is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, great in mercy, good to all. Those who confess the Lord praise Him for His greatness. Even His works praise Him. God’s people speak of His glorious kingdom, talk of His power and share this with others who know Him not. All of creation bears witness to Him, our Creator, the true and living God. He gives to His sinful creatures with an open hand and He satisfies their desires. People look expectantly to Him. He gives them their food in due season. Witness His benevolence, His generous goodness to all creatures. God’s purpose, however, is not merely to fill our stomachs. God’s open hand should draw our gaze upon Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We come to know Him in the Bible. By trusting in Him, we receive God’s grace, mercy and compassion and become His adopted children. For this reason, Barnabas and Paul call those who were worshipping other gods to turn “from these useless things to the living God who made heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them” (Acts 14:15). They address the worshippers of other gods with Psalm 145:16 in mind. God “did not leave Himself without witness…” He gives “rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” True gladness is not found in full stomachs, but in being filled with the joy of Jesus! Suggestions for prayer Pray for help and wisdom to share the one, true living God with others using the witness of God in creation. Pray for boldness as we point the way to God through Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 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

August 5 – Entertaining angels

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13:1-2 Scripture reading: Genesis 18:1-8; Hebrews 13:1-2 What a glorious scene! In His grace and because of His promise in Christ, the LORD comes to visit Abraham. Abraham is sitting at the door of his tent. He looks up and sees three men standing in front of him. They are not ordinary people, but angels appearing in human form.  One of the three is the Son of God, appearing in His pre-incarnate human form (18:30; 19:1). Abraham meets the three men, bends low to the ground and offers them food and rest. How did Abraham have the courage to ask the Son of God, the Holy One, to come into his tent, into the presence of a sinful man? The LORD sits down with the two angels. Abraham tells Sarah to bake some cakes and tells his servants to prepare the best calf for the meal. He sets the calf before them with butter and milk. They are eating at Abraham’s table in intimacy and fellowship! The Son of God, Who visits Abraham later, became flesh and dwelt among us, eating and drinking with sinners. Jesus, the promised Son of Abraham, gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sinners. Through faith in Jesus, the holy God reconciles sinners to Himself, so that we may enjoy intimate fellowship with Him again. God comes to us in Christ, calling us to exercise our faith through love. In Hebrews, God reminds us to show the love of Jesus practically. Don’t forget to entertain strangers. Welcome them in the name of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may use us to entertain strangers in the name of Jesus and that they may be drawn to Christ and His love through table fellowship. 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 28 – The sojourners’ shepherds

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:2-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4 Life for sojourners in exile will not always be easy. Amid trials, the easiest thing for us would be like sheep to go astray. But we have come under the care of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. One of the ways He sees to it that we make our way through exile with hope is by the care of under-shepherds, our pastor-elders. Peter calls the elders to the work of shepherding, not giving them a title, so much as a task to care for the sheep. They are the flock of God, chosen and precious, bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Sometimes sheep are frustrating. Our weaknesses and their wanderings can be tiresome. But these shepherd-elders must always remember they are dealing with the flock of God. Elders are to be among the flock, not domineering over them, but as fellow sheep. When they help us deal with our real struggles in the real world, they are not surprised. They can be both tough and tender at the same time because they know their own hearts. They can be both sympathetic and urgent because they know they have the same need for Jesus. By God’s grace we will be blessed with a model of humility when we see Christ-like, Christ-dependent, Christ-exalting men not in it for themselves, but for the good of God’s flock. By God’s grace they do not look for the praise of men, but the affirmation of the Chief Shepherd Himself, the crown of glory that does not fade away. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the blessing of elders in the church. Pray they may shepherd well, love us as God’s own flock, challenge us when we go astray and direct us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 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 20 – Sojourners love life and see good days

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:8,9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:8-12 Some of you may have been thinking that since you are not a wife, a husband, a servant, or an employee, that none of what Peter writes applies to you. But here Peter brings it all home. “Finally,” he says, this call to loving, compassionate, Christ-like surrender and service of one another, applies to all of you. Peter calls us to love one another as brothers. This call to compassion and tender-heartedness is a beautiful description of the church of God. It also remains for us exiles the most effective cultural strategy there could be. They will know we are Christians by our love. When we are sinned against, or when we are reviled, because of what Christ has done for us, we may follow His example of not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling. That is never easy. It may cost us, but never more than what we have been given in the gospel. By God’s grace, we seek to be at peace, to overcome evil with good and put up with ridicule. Because we know the hope of our calling, we have the certainty of our inheritance. That is why, even in trying circumstances, we can say, “We love life! These are good days!” That’s astounding if you think about it. But we have been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus! Peter also gives us this assurance from Psalm 34: The eyes of the Lord are fixed upon us; His ears are attentive to our cries. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to increase your love for one another in the church. Thank God that by grace we may love life and see good days. Thank Him for His loving, watchful care. 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 12 – Sojourners are built up as living stones

...you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:5 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-8 We have been hearing wonderful things about Jesus the living stone, chosen and precious. He is the rock of our salvation, but He is not a dead, inanimate object. He is a living stone, the resurrected Saviour. The blessing we get to consider now is that, as we come to Christ and find our life in union with Him, all of the things that are said about Jesus can also be said of us. In Christ, we are also chosen and precious to God. In Christ, we are also being built up as living stones. We who once had hearts of stone are made alive together with Christ! Christ, the master church builder is at work, building us into a living, thriving, spiritual house. Peter is not talking about the church in terms of bricks and mortar, but as a people, an exciting and dynamic building project of mutual love and devotion. Do you see the church that way? Thank God if you were encouraged in this hope in worship yesterday. Christ is building you up in your faith, building us up together and doing this in us and with us so that we too may be involved in the work of building. Through Jesus, we can now offer spiritual sacrifices. He offered the once-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sins, but now, through Him we can offer ourselves in sacrificial service, as living stones, for the building of His spiritual house. How are you involved in Christ’s church building work? Are you a living, active member of His church? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for how He uses the church to build you up in your faith. Ask Him to help you be a living, active, sacrificial builder of the church. Bring Him the sacrifice of praise! 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

July 4 – The sojourners’ fiery trials

...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:6-9 Sojourners have reason to rejoice in every circumstance because of the living hope we have been given. That does not mean there will not be trials, however. In fact, trials should be expected. And fiery trials can sometimes be very grievous and difficult. “Lord, what are you doing?” We may ask. Some of our trials seem to last forever. But as sojourners of hope, who know where we are going, we know that compared with our eternal future, trials are only “for a little while.” They will come to an end. God, Who is faithful to His promises, will bring us through. The inspired words “if need be,” also remind us that all our trials are in the hands of our gracious God, the Master Refiner. They only, ever come to us in His sovereign and loving care. We may even learn to look back and say with humble gratitude, “I needed that!” That may not be easy to appreciate when you are in the fire. Take heart, though. A refiner of gold, who knows what he is doing, never leaves the fire when gold is being refined. He knows the gold is purified when He can see his face in it. In His refining fire, our gracious God always has a good and loving purpose in view. He wants us to be more like Jesus. Praise God, He is at work in all our trials so we may know Him, love Him, be like Him and serve Him better! We shall come forth as gold! (Job 23:10). Suggestions for prayer Reflect on trials God has brought into your life in His refiner’s fire. Thank Him for what you have learned and seek His face for further refining. Thank God for corporate worship and how He uses it to refine your faith. Pray for those near you and around the world who are experiencing trials that they may come forth as gold. 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 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 26 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (2)

…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:26-27 Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-3 In addition to husbands loving their wives sacrificially as Christ loves the church, we read here that husbands are to love their wives with a purifying love. Look at the way in which Christ provided for His Bride, the Church. He called her out of this world unto Himself. He nurtured her. He discipled her. He cleansed her, washed her of all her sins with His precious blood shed for her on Calvary’s cross. One day, Jesus will present to His Father, His Bride the Church: pure, holy, blameless and without spot or wrinkle. And now, in the same manner, husbands are to love their wives. HOW? Nurture her, disciple her!  Keep her life free from temptation, free from anything harmful or evil that would cause her to sin. Don’t ask her to do anything that would compromise or contradict God’s Word. Protect her holiness. Maintain her virtue, her purity, her loveliness! Were you to present your bride to the Father in heaven, what will she look like? Will you present a bride, radiant, beautiful, and virtuous in every way; one whom you’ve loved, whom you nurtured in the faith and maintained as one who is blameless and holy? What has your bride turned out to be under your love, under your discipleship, under your spiritual headship? Have you lovingly cultivated her purity, her righteousness, her sanctity, her loveliness? Husbands this is our God-given duty! Suggestions for prayer Help husbands to cultivate the purity of heart in the lives of our wives. 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 18 – A Spirit-filled life is always thankful

...giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:20 Scripture reading: Luke 17:11-19 How can one know if the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our lives? Ephesians 5:20 answers that evidence of a Spirit-filled life is one of continual thankfulness to God for all things. Acknowledging God’s sovereignty, His providence, His goodness and faithfulness that He will provide all things necessary for body and soul, in life and in death, the Spirit-filled Christian is always thankful to God from Whom all blessings flow. And yet, do we always give thanks? Are we perhaps like the nine lepers who were healed by Jesus, but failed to give a word of thanks? They had no desire to worship Him or to give thanks. How can that be? And yet, how often don’t we have to remind our children or even ourselves to say, “please and thank-you.” How much more, ought we who are filled with the Spirit, to always give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In good times, we can become proud or complacent and neglect to give God thanks. In times of sorrow and suffering, we can be so consumed with our unpleasant circumstances that we fail to see God’s hand working all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and we neglect to give thanks. Being thankful is not dependent on our circumstances, but is a matter of the heart – a Spirit-filled heart. Yes indeed, let us count our blessings one by one and give thanks! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart filled with the Holy Spirit that we may give thanks always for all things and in all circumstances. 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 10 – The consequences

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. – Ephesians 5:5-6 Scripture reading: Romans 6:15-23 Here we note the seriousness of God’s warning. Those who do not believe in Jesus and who do not walk as dear children of the heavenly Father will not inherit the kingdom of God. Rather than imitating God, they imitate Satan, the father of all lies and deception. They walk according to the patterns of this world. They walk in the lust of their flesh. Consequently, unless they repent, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. As imitators of God, there is no place for immorality or filthiness of thought, deed or language. And yet, when we sin, as inevitably we all will, we must repent, turning from our sinful ways and strive all the more with the gracious help of the Holy Spirit to be imitators of God’s love. People today may tolerate sexual immorality. But rest assured, God doesn’t. People today may dismiss foul language and laugh at filthy jokes, but rest assured, God isn’t amused or laughing. There are two very different paths, with two very different lifestyles, with two different masters and with two very different destinations. So don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived by the world’s view of morality or fun, because God’s standard of righteousness and judgment revealed in His Word hasn’t changed. Friends of the world, imitators of Satan, will spend eternity with him in hell. Therefore, do NOT be deceived. Heed the warning. Imitate Christ! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit that we may more and more forsake sin and seek righteousness. 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

June 2 – Be imitators of God’s kindness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:25-5:1 Verse 1 begins with, “Therefore” which connects what follows with what precedes it, “And be kind to one another….” We are to be imitators of God in kindness which is one of the attributes of God (Titus 3:4). Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Kindness is also a characteristic of true love as defined by God (1 Corinthians 13:4). To be kind means to be useful, serving, pleasant and gracious. It is to be other-oriented. It is to be gracious and gentle in our attitudes, actions and speech toward others. Interestingly, the catalyst for Rosaria Butterfield’s radical conversion was the kindness of a local pastor. Earlier in Ephesians 2:7 we read, “…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  God’s kindness toward us undeserving sinners is displayed in His wonderful gift of salvation. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. So too, we are to imitate the kindness of our heavenly Father toward others. But then, in this day and age of entitlement, of self-love and virtual relationships are we still imitators of God’s kindness?   Do our thoughts, words and deeds reflect the lovingkindness of our God that we are commanded to imitate?  “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour” (Proverbs 21:21 ESV). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will produce in us, hearts of kindness to grace our thoughts, words and deeds toward others, that imitate the kindness 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

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....

Daily devotional

May 26 – Ignoring the warning of God

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. – Psalm 95:7 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-27; Psalm 95:6-11 The letter which Daniel circulated, in the king’s name, to the peoples is quite simple to understand. We have a warning followed by the very action being warned against. Perhaps, if you’ve been around younger children, you know what this experience is like: you warn children not to do something ... and then they go and do that very thing in front of you. Well, age is no protection from this type of foolishness and worse types of open rebellion against God. The audience who received this letter must have been stunned by what they read of the king’s downfall. Through Daniel’s influence, the king served as a temporary ambassador of the LORD most High by proclaiming that the Word of the LORD was true. Ignoring the warnings of God and turning from His counsel is to invite serious harm and consequences upon oneself. The Israelites understood this well, as Psalm 95 rehearses the wilderness rebellions. We are also able to understand this struggle. Yet the LORD instructs us through this king’s prideful rebellion against God that we would take to heart His admonition to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1Peter 5:6- 7). Through faith in Christ, “You may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4). Suggestions for prayer Father, teach us to listen to your instructions. Forgive us when we go astray. Renew us through Your Spirit so that we would respond gladly to your leading. 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 25 – A lesson learned four times

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. – John 20:29 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-3; John 20:27-31 Men like Nebuchadnezzar take a long time to learn. In the first chapter, the king has the opportunity to see firsthand what the fear of God looks like, in the lives of the four men of Judah. In the second chapter, the king receives his vision and he is again reminded that it is the Lord of Israel who ministers truth to His people. In the third chapter, the king responds by building a big statue to ‘correct’ what the Lord had said about him and his dynasty, but the Lord reveals His power to Nebuchadnezzar. The fourth chapter shows that he continues to resist the will of God by resorting to his old ways. In Daniel 4:7, the king calls on the old fools who were previously revealed to be impotent liars and cheats. Finally, the king is brought low by God and turned into a beast. At last, after all this, Nebuchadnezzar is willing to have Daniel prepare an edict to go out to the peoples, nations and languages concerning the true God. Yet it might be best to title this letter in chapter four, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Momentary Perception of the True God.” The text of the fourth chapter of Daniel was probably composed by Daniel as a letter to be sent out under the king’s signature to the ends of his kingdom. Are you more eager than the king of Babylon to declare the signs and wonders the Most High God has made known to you? Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death, and the evil one. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 20 – I did it my way

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

Daily devotional

May 19 – We live in the day when the stone is revealed

Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery. – Daniel 2:47 Scripture readings: 1 Timothy 1:16; Daniel 2:46-49 Think of the reaction of God’s people when they beheld the forces of Darius the Mede standing in the throne room that Nebuchadnezzar had occupied with such splendour and seeming invincibility! Suddenly, as foretold in the vision, the great Babylonian Empire had fallen. The believers would have realized that this first stage in this vision had been completed. Later, when the exiles beheld the sudden and stunning overpowering of the middle Persian Empire by the forces of Alexander the Great, they must have wondered, “Is the next stage in this vision now being fulfilled?” And then when the forces of Rome overtook the mighty Greeks, scattered their armies, and took all their lands, they must have realized, “We are now getting near to the day of the stone!” While the reaction of King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 46-47 is significant, what matters more for the LORD is that His people grasp His messages to them! This means that we are to rejoice and delight because we live in the day of the stone which has been revealed from heaven! As Sinclair Ferguson said, “We need to remember that this great kingdom belongs to God. It is indestructible, victorious, eternal, and it is universal.” “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:6-7). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you peace in your circumstances as you await the day when you will enter the Promised Land of rest for all of God’s people. Pray for contentment when God’s plans for you seem hard to understand or experience. 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 18 – When did the stone come on the scene?

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. – Daniel 2:44 Scripture readings: Luke 2:1-7; Daniel 2:40-45 When did the kingdom of the stone cut from the mountain without human hands begin? The answer is when Jesus came to earth as the incarnate Son of God. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy and His church – gathered from every tribe, tongue and nation – is the kingdom that shall never be destroyed. As Luke records for us, the Messiah was born of the Virgin Mary during the reign of the first emperor of Ancient Rome, Caesar Augustus. Far from the mighty corridors of power in Rome, a small child was laid to rest in a manger and a crowd of shepherds bore witness to His humble circumstances. Yet the LORD prepared His people – servants like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) – through the dream and its interpretation to look forward to the coming of the Greatest Kingdom the world has or ever shall see! At this stage in human history, we still live in a time where we do not yet see all things in obedience and subjection to the Lord (Hebrews 2:8). We do not yet see the fullness of the kingdom of God. But we are assured that nothing shall prevail against His kingdom (Matthew 16:18). In the end, on the last day, we are assured that the kingdom of God shall stand and all nations shall bow. All nations shall be crushed under that stone. Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 21:42, “Have you never read the scriptures, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Suggestions for prayer Father, may Thy Kingdom Come! Lead us in truth and righteousness. Prepare our hearts for the day of Christ’s coming. Strengthen our 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 17 – What the future holds for those God loves

A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure. – Daniel 2:45 Scripture readings: Daniel 2:31-39; Daniel 8:15-27 Daniel provided this interpretation of the king’s vision and he assigns only one specific name – Nebuchadnezzar’s – to the kingdoms described in the sequence of dynasties that would arise before being brought low by the stone carved by the God of heaven. With historical insight and the comparison we find to this vision in Daniel 8, we can conclude that Daniel prophesies of the rise and fall of the Babylonians (head), the Medo-Persians (chest & arms), the Greeks (torso & thighs), and the Romans (legs & feet). However, these kingdoms are relevant here because their boundaries would include the land of Judah. Consequently, the LORD’s message to Nebuchadnezzar must properly be seen as a message to the LORD’s people at the end of their period in exile and in the days of their return to Judah. He wants the children of God to know what the future holds. Not in absolute detail, but in enough detail to know how it ends: with the kingdom of heaven established upon the earth! Though Daniel tells this to Nebuchadnezzar, he is commanded by God to write this down for God’s people. The LORD’s Word concerning the life to come is chiefly for His people who can find comfort and courage to withstand trials and temptations of various kinds (1 Peter 1). The vision is all about God’s people in the end as He establishes a proper dwelling place for the temple of God – His people! Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility in our nation’s leaders to see that their authority is from God. Pray for patience in our hearts as we await the return of Christ. Pray for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the earth. 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. This picture used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license from FreeBible Images.org....

Daily devotional

May 12 – Swept up in the wrath of the King

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

Daily devotional

May 11 – Only God knows

Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 3:10 Scripture readings: Ephesians 3:1-10; Daniel 2:8-11 Daniel was not the first person called to Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He was a good student, but he was not first on the list of dream interpreters in Babylon. After all, he was one of the Jews and not a sophisticated wise man or pagan sorcerer. Nebuchadnezzar’s terror because of the dream he received was amplified by his realization that his advisors were cheats, swindlers and liars. Whatever their dark arts, they did not have a way to bring him the truth. Normal dreams don’t provoke such a reaction, but this was no ordinary dream that Nebuchadnezzar received. The frantic search for truth on Nebuchadnezzar’s part brought him to a state of fear that positioned him to be ready, by the Lord’s doing, to receive the word of a young messenger from the Lord. In your life, the Lord works this way as well. While He doesn’t use dreams with you, He does awaken our consciences to truths about ourselves that we know only God knows! The fear this creates in our hearts is calmed by the message of God which He also is pleased to bring to us through His Word! Do you make time to learn from God’s Word each day? Do you seek answers to life’s questions in the Bible? When you face a fearful realization of guilt, do you know that your security rests in the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the Word made flesh so that He might deliver you from fear and death? Praise the Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the gospel to bring you greater comfort. Pray for a blessing on your meditation upon God’s Word. Pray for messengers to go out to the world’s rulers and the world’s lowliest inhabitants to bring these words of life! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 10 – Surely no one knows such a thing

Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:17 Scripture readings: Ephesians 5:11-16; Daniel 2:1-7 There are many discoveries packed into chapter two! Nebuchadnezzar learns that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. His sorcerers discover that their charade is over and they’ve been found out. Daniel discovers the Lord’s gifts to him are reliable and a reason for him to offer humble praise to the LORD. And God’s people learn that the unfolding of human history is known by God and foreordained by Him for His good pleasure! The complaint of the sorcerers of Babylon is quite understandable, isn’t it? “How can we tell you something about things you’re not sharing with us? Surely no one can know what you saw in your dream, Nebuchadnezzar.” The conclusion that the sorcerers were blind to – but a truth which has been revealed to you in the pages of Scripture – is that it is the LORD Who reveals His will and it is the LORD Who directs the affairs of human history. As the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’ -- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” Do you understand what a gift it is to receive God’s Word of Life? As Daniel perceived, it is the greatest gift to hear the voice of the LORD in His revealing Word and to know that our Shepherd King is coming to judge the living and the dead. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD will bring you joy as you serve Him and follow His commands. Pray that the blind will see and the spiritually deaf will have their ears opened to hear the will of the Lord for our salvation. 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 9 – Humbled that we might be lifted up

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? – Isaiah 53:8 Scripture readings: Isaiah 25; Isaiah 52:10-53:12 Every Lord’s Day, we are called to worship the LORD together as we celebrate the grace of God freely given to us in Jesus Christ. We do so with great joy because the Good News of our new life in Christ Jesus is extraordinarily good news to receive – whether we’re hearing it the first time or the thousandth time! In the midst of such joy, as part of our worship together, we also share together in a time of confession of sin that is humbling and sobering. We acknowledge that the LORD is good, that we are sinners, and that we need to and desire to hear the glad tidings of His forgiveness and reconciliation of our sins. As we take stock of the story of Daniel being a man of God, living with a fear of God, we should ask ourselves, “What are our expectations?” The book of Daniel is often held up as a story of triumph by way of morality. “Love God, give up a few things for Him, and you’ll be successful.” The danger of pride is great when we view our relationship with God like this. Even Christ was humbled unto death so that He might be exalted. The only triumph we are assured of in this life is the triumph of Christ Jesus over the powers of sin and death! The only hope we have rests in His humiliating death on the cross and His glorious resurrection that we celebrate on this day of resurrection joy! Suggestions for prayer Father, help us to remember who we are as sinners in need of your grace every day of our lives. Teach us to walk in repentance, faith and the joy of Christ. Open our hearts to grow in humility and holiness through your Holy Spirit. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 4 – Into the world

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

Daily devotional

May 3 – Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet

Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. – Jeremiah 23:2-3 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8; Lamentations 1:1-6 It’s alarming to think about the LORD’s perspective on the sins we commit against Him. We can’t escape the knowledge that our sins deserve judgment. God brought judgment upon the people of Judah because of their false worship and rebellion against Him. He did so by bringing the Babylonian army down upon them in three successive invasions. Every time that the Babylonians came, as God’s tool of justice against His covenant people, they took more of the Jews back to Babylon with them. This is how Daniel and his friends ended up in a city far from home in the midst of a pagan and prideful society. How could such a thing happen to them? They were just young men caught up in a calamity! Daniel and his friends ended up in Babylon because of other people’s sins. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, it is no surprise that sinfulness and rebellion against God have consequences in our lives and we frequently experience the consequences of the sins of others. Yet, we must acknowledge our own sin before God and confess our need for His forgiveness. This was the intended outcome of the exile of God’s people: that they would all repent of their sinfulness and be reconciled to God. The warning of coming judgment must also stir our hearts to fully confess our sin to the LORD and to rejoice in the freedom He grants to us in Christ Jesus our Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would show you the seriousness of your sin and the richness of His forgiving grace to you! Pray for guidance as you endure hardships and strive to grow in holiness and godliness as you serve the Lord today. 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 2 – History and His story

The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. - Daniel 1:2 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 23:36-24:6; Daniel 1:1-2 Have you heard the saying that “all history is His Story”? The history of this world ultimately tells the story of the LORD’s holy will being worked out in time and therefore it is His story. A good example of this is in the opening two verses of the book of Daniel. In the first verse, we read that the covenant community of Judah was attacked by a foreign power and didn’t stand a chance against the mighty forces of the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian history books would tell us that their powerful armies were the reason they found success in conquering lowly Jehoiakim the King of Judah. Yet the LORD provides us with insight in the second verse that changes the picture: He gave the king into the hand of the Nebuchadnezzar. While vs. 1 describes a military showdown, vs. 2 provides us with an account of Who is really in control! It is the LORD Who gave the king, the people, and the temple of Judah into the hands of the Babylonians. He did this because of Judah’s sinfulness and rebellion against Him (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). He did this to display to His people the deep need we have for deliverance. He did this to prepare His people to receive their Saviour Who can bring joy and life to a dying and broken people. As we rest and worship on this Lord’s Day, we can rejoice together as we view our life stories in the context of His Story. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for delivering us from our bondage to sin and the powers of the evil one. Pray for strength to withstand temptation. Ask the LORD to increase your trust in Jesus Christ alone for deliverance from the powers of evil in this world. 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

Introduction to the month of May

What does it look like to live in the midst of a pagan culture that does not honour or listen to God? What insights are there for us when we face a future that is filled with reports of hardship and unsettling predictions? The oracles of God and the testimony of Daniel and his three friends in the Book of Daniel are very relevant to the times in which we are living. This story of faith in the midst of fiery trials is a powerful lesson for all who face hardship and fears while walking by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we will read the first four chapters and reflect on the message of Daniel – a vivid and descriptive book filled with visions, dramatic moments, and the ultimate reassurance that the LORD is sovereign over all things. There are several remarkable characters in these pages of Scripture and every one of them has a message to tell us in our time of awaiting the end of our pilgrimage (1 Peter 2:11-12). You will meet villains who oppose the LORD and His anointed (Psalm 2:2). You will meet a few good men and follow along with their growth in character and holiness before God while in exile (Psalm 1:1-2). You will meet the Lord’s messengers who bring words of light to a people who walk in the midst of much darkness (Psalm 104:1-4). If you would like to explore the message of Daniel in more depth this month, I would recommend to you the Bible commentaries written by Sinclair Ferguson (The Preacher’s Commentary Vol 21) and Iain Duguid (Reformed Expository Commentary). Both of these gifted teachers have also recorded sermons on the book of Daniel which can be found on the monergism.com website. Our prayer is that we will see more fully the way that God’s people can have hope and confidence in the work of Jesus for us as sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. How could this be happening to me? Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. – Revelation 19:5 Scripture reading: Revelation 19:4-8; Daniel 1:1-6 In the midst of the hardships brought about by this ongoing global pandemic, the Lord’s Word provides us with a powerful reminder that He is in control of all things. He is sovereign. Everything which happens, He has willed for it to happen. If your life has been upended by the events of the past year, there is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Nothing in this world happens to us by chance. Rather, the Lord our God is actively caring for us through the trials of our lives. This is an important theme that helps us to understand the story of Daniel and the exiles who went to Babylon from Judah in the 7th century BC. As we read through Daniel together this month, I hope you will remember the words of praise that John the Apostle hears in the heavenly places in Revelation 19:5. The people of God rejoice because they can see the full picture and they are sure that the Lord will triumph! The LORD is to be praised because He is strong to save. We also, while reading of hardships to be endured by God’s people, can know that there is an end in sight to everything which God has said will take place, until His name is fully glorified and His people are able to enter into our everlasting resting place with God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being the One who comforts us in all our affliction. Pray for the humility to submit to God’s will for our lives and to rejoice that He is the most important character in our life story. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 26 – Our victorious servant King

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” – Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 At this point in the psalm, the imagery changes from Christ being our Good Shepherd, to Christ being our Victorious Servant King. In the first line of this verse, the imagery is quite foreign to our 21st-century minds. In ancient times, when a king conquered an enemy city, he would have a huge victory feast in the royal banquet hall of that city. The king and all his generals and men of valour would sit around the table and eat the spoils of their victory, all in full view of the enemy king or governor and all their children, wives and officials. The conquered enemy would have to watch while the victor feasted. David here is saying that Christ has won the victory and set up a table for Himself to feast at, in full view of His enemies. Christ certainly has won for us a great victory by dying on the cross and rising again so that we sit in victory over sin, death, the world, and the devil. We are reminded of that great victory when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, where we are invited to the table of Christ and get to partake of the spoils of His victory. We partake of Him and are refreshed and enlivened after the struggles of fighting the enemy. How often do you meditate upon the victory that Christ has earned for you?  How often do you go to Christ, the Servant King, to be fed and nourished with the spoils of His heroic victory? Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Lord to refresh and nourish you with Christ and with all that He has obtained for you by His heroic victory on the cross and the open grave. Pray this for yourself and for all of God’s people. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 25 – Christ’s staff

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 The second instrument of comfort that David names is the staff. This is what we normally picture when we think of a shepherd holding a staff, that long stick with a big hook on the end of it. The shepherd’s staff was used to keep the sheep from running away or going astray. If the shepherd saw a sheep starting to wander or run away from the flock, he could reach out with his staff and hook the sheep around the neck and bring it back, close to himself. This too is a great comfort to us, for it describes the type of love our Savior has for us. He will always come after us and bring us back to Himself, keeping us safe as He leads us to our final destination. It is a comfort for us even as we are walking close to Jesus for we are reminded that even if we were to go astray Christ would go after us and draw us back. It is a comfort for us even when we go astray and we feel the crook of his staff gently or even painfully pulling us back. You don’t have to walk with Christ very long to know the feeling of his staff around your neck. Whether it is a gentle tug or a strong and prolonged pull as we try to run away, it is comforting to know Christ will always keep us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would comfort you with His guiding presence and that Christ would always keep you near Him. Pray that Christ would continue to comfort all of His people, drawing them all closer to Himself. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 24 – Christ’s rod

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 In the last part of this verse, we are told that Jesus comforts us and is present with us, armed with His rod and staff. The rod and the staff were the two instruments of a shepherd. Today we will focus on the rod of Christ. The rod was a long, straight shaft, usually made out of wood, that the shepherd would use to defend the sheep from robbers and wild animals. When David describes Christ as being with Him even in the deepest and darkest valleys, and he is comforted by His rod, he is talking about the comfort which comes from knowing that Christ is his defender. Christ is there to protect him from all his enemies, namely the devil, the world and his own sinful heart. People place a high premium on feeling safe and secure. They will pay a lot of money for insurance on a host of things, such as their house, car, phones and even their own life. All of this is done in the hopes of garnering some kind of security (though I am not saying you should not have insurance). During this Covid-19 pandemic, it is amazing to me how silly people are when they are scared and panicked. They will literally grasp at straws to save themselves, whether it is stocking up on toilet paper and bottled water, or wearing their mask in their car. We as Christians never have a reason to fear, for we know that Christ is with us and He will protect us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would increase your faith to trust in Christ to protect you and that He would remove your trust for security in everything else. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 23 – You are with me

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” - Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 In ancient times, especially in the land of Canaan, a lot of the best farmland was in the valleys. It was also common that the roads and paths would not often go over the hills, but instead wind around them. However, if a shepherd were to lead his sheep into a deep valley, especially one with steep sides close together, that meant that the sheep were in a very dangerous situation. This is the valley David has in mind here, a deep, dark valley where you cannot see your enemies hiding and waiting to attack. Sheep would be easy prey to robbers and wild animals often hiding in the hills, prepared to attack anything that came by. David, in using this imagery, is explaining something very real to all of us. We all go through times in our lives when we are in danger, when we are scared of what might happen, or where we are even being attacked. We have all experienced going through the deep, dark valley of the shadow of death in one form or another in our lives. However, no matter how terrible the circumstance in which we find ourselves is, we never have to be afraid, for Christ is always with us. Hold fast to that truth dear Christian, even when it feels like you are all alone. Remember this unchanging truth, Christ is with you. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would comfort your heart and the hearts of all of His people with the truth of Christ’s presence with them as their Good Shepherd. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 18 – Yahweh is my Shepherd

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

Daily devotional

April 17 – Our covenantally faithful God

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 Psalm 23, placed between Psalms 22 and 24, is a wonderful reminder to us that as we dwell between the first and second comings of Christ, we are not forgotten. The Lord has not left us in this time to figure life out on our own or to live by our own strength. No! Rather, Christ is with us continually in this life as our Good Shepherd. Before we get to the LORD being our Shepherd, let us call to mind the significance of the fact that it is the LORD Who is our Shepherd. Whenever the Old Testament uses “LORD” for God’s name, the translators are attempting to differentiate between the name “Adonai”, which is translated as “Lord”, and “Yahweh”, which is translated as “LORD”. God never chooses a single word in the Scriptures carelessly. Every word is there for an important purpose. The fact that David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose to use the name “Yahweh” instead of “Adonai”, is significant. The name Yahweh is the personal name of God that not only communicates His sovereignty over all creation, but also His covenantal faithfulness to His people. Have you ever struggled to trust the Lord? My guess is that you have because we all have. In those moments of doubt, we must tether ourselves to this blessed truth, that our God is perfectly faithful to all of His covenant promises. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would cause us to trust Him more. Pray for yourself and for all of God’s people, that when we are filled with doubt, now or at some future time, the Holy Spirit will flood our minds with the gospel promises and strengthen our hearts to believe them. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 16 – The King of Glory shall come in

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah” - Psalm 24:9-10 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:8-10 We have many enemies from whom we need to be saved. I mentioned a few yesterday. We have many enemies summarized with the trifecta of Satan, the world and our own sinful flesh. We need Christ to be our Conquering Hero and Mighty Warrior Who will deliver us from all our enemies and all our problems. Think for a minute of all the things from which we need to be saved. We need our image remade, we need to be made alive again, we need a new heart with new desires, we need a new will, we need to be delivered from the curse of sin and given Divine blessing, we need our old nature put to death and replaced with a new one, we need sin taken away from us and righteousness attributed to us. We need to be delivered from the tyranny of Satan and to be issued out of the kingdom of darkness and made citizens of the kingdom of God. Certainly, there are things that we could add to that list; it is by no means exhaustive. We need a Hero who can save us from all of that and more. That is what we have in Christ. He is our Mighty Warrior King Who has won for us the great and decisive victory at the cross. This Psalm celebrates the arrival of the King after His great victory, the King of glory, Who is Himself our Mighty Warrior and the commander of the angelic armies to conquer all our enemies and defend us from them. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks and praise to the Father for sending His Son, our Lord Jesus, to be our Conquering King, Who heroically saved us from all our enemies. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 15 – Christ our mighty warrior

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.” - Psalm 24:8 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:8 In the previous verse, those who are with the coming King, are calling out to the gatekeepers to open the gates so that the King of glory shall come in. In this verse, we have the response of the gatekeepers, “Who is this King of glory?”  The answer that comes is beautiful and comforting. We read that the LORD is strong and mighty and specifically mighty in battle. This may sound a bit strange; maybe we don’t think of Jesus as being a mighty warrior. Yet, this is exactly how He is described here. This, of course, is what He was prophesied to be all the way back in Genesis 3:15. He would be the One Who would crush the head of the serpent. Christ is also described as such in Psalm 2, where it is said that He will break the nations that have risen up against Him like pottery smashed with a rod of iron. In Revelation, we have visions recorded for us, of Jesus having a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth and of Him riding upon a white war horse (Revelation 1:16; 19:11). This is not the Jesus that is proclaimed in many churches or certainly by many in our culture. Jesus is seen more like a kitten than like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet, this is the Jesus Who we need, the Jesus who will defeat all of our enemies and give us a great victory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord Jesus would destroy all the works of the devil and that He would continue to plunder his house, saving many unto eternal life. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has saved us from by dying on the cross. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 10 – The Lord is holy

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

Daily devotional

April 9 – It is finished

“They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.” - Psalm 22:31 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:30-31 As we close out this Psalm, I want us to reflect on the joy that is so clearly seen in the second half. It started with the greatest of grief, suffering and agony as it prophesied the death of our Saviour. Yet, the second half of this Psalm is filled with praise. Why?  The Lord has answered. He answered Christ on the cross by raising Him on the third day, and thus, every cry for forgiveness we utter is answered. For as Christ died and rose again, so we are dead to sin and alive in Him (Romans 6:4). Think upon those last words of the Psalm, “That He (Christ) has done this.”  Those words are very reminiscent of Jesus’ final words upon the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What joy should fill our hearts in knowing that our salvation is accomplished and secure in Christ. The joy-filled praise in the second half of this Psalm is almost palpable. Is this the joy that you have?  When you talk with others, and especially when you are sharing the truth of the gospel with others, would they sense real joy in your voice?  It is one thing to convey the truth of the gospel to others, it is another thing entirely to tell the gospel with joy-filled praise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with the joy that can only be found in Christ and in the salvation He provides. Pray that the Lord would help you to communicate the gospel to others with true joy that leads them to glorify God. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 8 – Proclamation to the next generation

“A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.” - Psalm 22:30 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:30-31 As we reflect upon the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ in this Psalm, we see that it comes to an ending with a strong emphasis on telling the next generation of the salvation of the Lord. This is maybe not how we would expect this Psalm to end. However, as is all of God’s Word, it is certainly perfect, isn’t it? As a helpful test to see how important the salvation of Christ is to you, ask yourself how much you desire to teach the next generation about Christ. There are churches that have a hard time finding enough people to teach Catechism and parents who leave the teaching of the Scriptures to the church and/or school. If the gospel of Christ is important to you, then you will declare it and recount it to your children, your grandchildren, and the children of the church. If you are not diligent in prayer and proclaiming the gospel to the next generation, it must conclude that the gospel of Christ is not very important to you and not something over which you really rejoice. You do not have to do big things, you don’t even have to be a Catechism teacher. But you should, in daily life, strongly desire to share the gospel that means so much to you. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart that deeply values the gospel of Jesus and loves all people, a heart that wants to share it with everyone, including the next generation. Pray that the children in your family, church and community would come to a saving faith in Jesus. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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