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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 21 – What was I supposed to do?

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

Daily devotional

May 20 – I did it my way

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

Daily devotional

May 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 13 – To His feet your tribute bring

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

Daily devotional

May 12 – Swept up in the wrath of the King

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

Daily devotional

May 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 5 – The fear of God in action

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

Daily devotional

May 4 – Into the world

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

Daily devotional

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

April 27 – Anointed by Christ

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

Daily devotional

April 26 – Our victorious servant King

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

Daily devotional

April 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 19 – I shall not want

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

Daily devotional

April 18 – Yahweh is my Shepherd

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

Daily devotional

April 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 11 – Who may ascend?

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

Daily devotional

April 10 – The Lord is holy

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

Daily devotional

April 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....

Daily devotional

April 3 – Wait on the Lord

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

Daily devotional

April 2 – See the love of your Savior

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

Daily devotional

April 1 – Introduction to our study of Psalms 22-24

Hello, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we are going to be considering three psalms. I would say three very important psalms, but then again all of the psalms are important!  In the month of April, we are going to be celebrating Good Friday and Easter and one of the psalms we are going to consider speaks to both of these redemptive events. One of the other psalms speaks to the event covered last month, the Triumphal Entry, and another event that we won’t get to in this month, the Ascension. The third psalm we will consider is probably the most well-known psalm of recent decades. Wonder what these three important psalms are?  Psalm 22, 23 and 24. These three psalms form a triplet. Many of the psalms are grouped together, for example, Psalms 1 and 2 are a couplet that forms the introduction to the Psalter. Psalms 146-150 form a quadruplet of grand doxology at the end of the Psalter. Looking at Psalm 22, you notice right away that this psalm prophesies the crucifixion of Jesus. It also anticipates and prophesies Christ’s resurrection. Psalm 24, on the other hand, anticipates the Triumphal entry, but ultimately, it draws our attention to the Ascension of Jesus as well as His final coming. Then, nestled between these two great pillars of Psalms, speaking of the redemptive work of the Messiah, is Psalm 23. Psalm 23 speaks to the Christian in the “right here and right now”. I have heard it said that Psalm 23 is overused. I couldn’t disagree more! It is a psalm that speaks to Christians where we are right now in redemptive history because of the death, resurrection, ascension and anticipated final coming of Christ Jesus. Therefore, not only do these psalms speak powerfully of the salvation we have in Christ and comfort we now have in Him, but these psalms are also inspired words to be used by us to glorify our Triune God for the great things that He has done. God’s wise plan “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me? And from the words of My groaning?” – Psalm 22:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-8 Today is the day in which we remember the Last Supper, the recounting of Jesus praying and His subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It also happens to be April Fool’s Day, a day in which a lot of good-natured fun can be had playing pranks on those we love. Today, I want us to take this secular day literally for a second because we also see something very clearly in our culture. When the world looks at what Jesus is about to do, it looks foolish to them. As we think of the Garden of Gethsemane, question why Jesus would willingly give Himself up?  He could have easily gotten away before Judas found Him. Why would Jesus willingly give Himself to be crucified on a cross? Then, turning the attention to Christians, why would they believe that Jesus dying on the cross would atone for their sins?  All of this looks like foolishness to the world. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24, “But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  As we focus our attention on Christ’s sacrificial death tomorrow, have we considered it to be Divinely wise?  Do we see this as the most perfect and beautiful plan that could ever be devised for our lives and our salvation? Suggestions for prayer Let us ask the Lord to help us to see just how wise the plan of salvation is that Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Pray that the Lord would give us boldness to proclaim this salvation to a world that sees it as foolishness. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 31 – God’s judgment day

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 5:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:14 At the end of Ecclesiastes, we come face to face with God’s end-time judgment. It is the conclusion we want to hear after hearing that life is a vapor uncontrollable by us. Fearing God and walking in obedience is man’s core purpose. Thus, we are glad God is the judge. There is comfort in God’s judgment. Why? First, our sins were judged by God in Jesus Christ. They are forgiven so now as Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24). Christ has delivered us from the judgment of God in taking that judgment for us. Second, we see the comfort of the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. For those in Christ, it will be a public declaration of sins forgiven and a time where our deeds of faith will be rewarded. Of course, those works are His works in us, but He gives us the rewards. Thirdly, there is the comfort that the wicked unrepentant sinner will be judged. God is just. It will not be well with the wicked. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is that life is a vapor, but that God keeps life a mystery to us and brings us what He wills, so that we might receive His grace and that in grace, we trust in and live by His Word through life, unto eternity. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would keep us in the church to hear His Word so we will remember He is our God Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 26 – The call to faith

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

Daily devotional

March 25 - The call of joy

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:10 Our reading today is a call for young people to live in joy. Of course, we can apply it to all Christians. This verse is the Philippians 4:6 of the Old Testament. We could paraphrase verse 10 this way, “Soon you will turn to dust, so while you are able, get rid of vexation, anxiety, worry and anger.” When we are vexed, worried, or angry it’s because we don’t like the harsh realities of life under the sun. We are frustrated because we cannot control our life. Here, Christian, God directs us to banish all anxiety by faith in God. Be joyful for all that is in front of you. Relax and have some chips and dip. The Lord is in control (Matthew 6:25-34). So here we have this great charter of joy! All of us throughout our life are called to live a youthful joy. Now there are times we are called to mourn. See verse 8. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:4). But the idea here is to enjoy the life God has given, even though mourning is part of it. Of course “youth and the dawn of life” do have their vanity. The time of youth, as well as old age, can be empty and transitory when lived in sinful lusts. But when we fear God and believe in God’s Son, we are enabled to enjoy life as we live by faith. Suggestion for prayer The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Ask God to teach you joy in every situation. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 24 – Having joy in your youth (Part 2)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:9 There are three great truths in verse 9. First, choose cheer when you are young! Be thankful for your parents, for your bike and the way you look. God’s word puts it this way because God knows how easy it is for you not to be happy. Life is not meant to be lived complaining. It is too short not to be joyful. Second, God says follow your heart and your eyes. WOW. Is this promoting the idea that if you feel like it, just do it, whatever it may be? Or if you see it and want it, get that credit card out? No! God throughout Ecclesiastes shows how wicked that mindset is. So, what does this mean? Well, think of the overarching message of the Bible, the story of God setting us free in Jesus Christ to enjoy life. Jesus gives life more abundantly than sin or Satan ever can. Yes, there are some things we cannot do. We cannot do the opposite of what the Spirit has written on our hearts, or offend people, or grieve Holy Spirit, but creation is left wide open for us to enjoy and do to the glory of God. Third, remember God’s judgment. (v.9b) Enjoying life does not mean leaving God behind and enjoying sin and pride. That is a lie of Satan. Enjoying life is following God and enjoying His way and this includes remembering God’s judgment. Living life for God means remembering 11:9b and 12:13 in the context of Christ. In Christ, we can be forgiven. Suggestion for prayer Confess your sin to God, and ask Him to help you do all you do to the glory of God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 23 – Having joy in your youth (Part 1)

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” - 1 John 2:14 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 In chapter 11:7-10, Solomon highlights the command to live in joy by repeating that life without God is “vanity, vanity.”(v.8b; v.10b). However, living in God’s grace and the fear of God brings a life of joy. Solomon has taught us that living wisely in the fear of God means living in joy. At the conclusion of each of the previous sections in Ecclesiastes, joy has been commanded and God calls us to joy at the end as well. First, Solomon affirms life in all its fullness in v.7. Light is a metaphor for being alive. The living are in the light of the sun, so enjoy them all your years. Of course, how long you will live, the success of your work, how many children you have, what illness will take your life, and all aspects of your future are out of your control, so be joyful while you are young for many dark days will come when you are older (v.8-9). Second, Solomon affirms that the young should live in joy. Verse 9 startles us. Is Solomon being ironic or is he giving a wise principle? The context shows he is giving us a wise principle. Matthew Poole put it this way. “This is serious advice to this purpose: seeing life is short and transitory, improve it to the best advantage, take comfort in it whilst you may, only do it with moderation, and the fear of God.” When we are young we should fear God and live cheerfully. Suggestion for prayer Rejoice in the covenant God has made with our children. Pray they would fear God and enjoy all He gives to them. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 18 – God’s giving grace

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

Daily devotional

March 17 – Take the risk of serving others

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 We learn the principle in verse 1 is to be bold and take risks in serving the Lord. Over the next few days, we will learn the three ways Solomon applies this. First, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. This comes out in the words “give,” and “sow”. Solomon beckoned us to do good (3:12), to work (3:22; 5:18; 8:15), and to please God (2:26). What does this look like? Live generously for others; take that risk and in faith do it. If you spend too much time figuring out if all the conditions are right, you will probably keep back love, friendship and sharing your life. God gave us life and love, our hands, our work, and our lot in life. We don’t know all that will befall us, but we are called to live it in the fear of God. Waiting for the time when everything will be predictable, risk-free and affordable before we give and serve others means we want to be God. However, only God is sovereign and we don’t know how He will work. But, Christian, still take the risk, sow the seed, and serve others. Go to work for your family, have children and spend time with them, sit down to talk with someone who is sad, adopt children, and love your spouse. Remember Jesus’ life of faith. He said, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Suggestion for prayer Pray for humility and to have the mind of Christ. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 16 – A godly principle: take the risk of serving the Lord

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” - Romans 12:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1 Having introduced chapter 11 yesterday, we begin explaining it in detail today. Solomon first states a principle in verse 1 and then applies it in three ways. Today we will learn the principle stated in verse 1. Notice the imagery. Casting your bread on the water seems a risky thing to do. Throw it out there and it will get waterlogged; you’ll never see it again. Yet, Scripture says, “You will find it after many days.” Not that you get it back literally, he is not talking about literal bread, rather it’s a call to be bold, to take risks. Verses 3 &4 give an illustration. When it rains, the rain falls on the earth, a tree lies where it falls, and the wind comes the way it comes because they follow God’s purpose. We can do nothing about when it rains, how a tree falls, or when the winds blow. The point is simple: because we don’t control nature, in life you have to take risks. Notice the call to take risks in verses 5-6. This time it is in light of God Almighty. Solomon is pointing out that God is in control, so we have to go forward by faith. He is sovereign and we don’t know how He will work, but we are still to boldly step out. What risk are we to boldly take? The passage makes it plain. (see v.2a; “sow” v.4a; v.6). Take the risk of serving God and giving to others. God will use you in people’s lives! Suggestion for prayer Pray the Holy Spirit will grant you boldness to serve the Lord today. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 15 – Jesus gave abundantly; let’s do the same

“Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” - 2 Corinthians 8:9 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Recall that we are in the last section of Ecclesiastes (ch.9-12). Ch. 1-8 tells us of the awesome sovereign ways of God. God is in control of life, therefore we fear God and trust him. Ch.9-12 give us, “this-is-what-it-is-to-live-by-faith” points. In chapter 9, we read that life is better than death because the living can live by faith in God, have hope and comfort from God, and enjoy God. In ch.10, we discover that wisdom is superior to foolishness, but no one is perfectly wise all the time so Christians must keep living by faith. Today, we start uncovering chapter 11:1-6. To help us grasp its main message, recollect the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. She was a risk-taking, entrepreneurial person. She saw possibilities in property, crops, in her husband, her children and she didn’t let the fear of winter or too many children stop her from giving generously. She gave because she feared the Lord! She lived by faith in the awe of God, and this caused her to see possibilities. She cast her bread on the water and was a blessing. Our text teaches God’s children to go ahead, cast your bread on the water, taking the risk to live by faith in God and giving generously to people around you. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and being boldly generous and copiously good to our neighbors is a basic part of living by faith in Jesus! Yes, it’s risky to follow Jesus, forgive and love people, but it is Christ-like. The forever-cautious, the forever-burying-gold-coins-in-the-ground so as not to lose anything are anxious, selfish people. Jesus Christ was not selfish. He left heaven and gave generously so we could be saved. Suggestion for prayer Help me Lord to count the cost of serving You and help me to be willing to give all for You. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 10 – Our miscalculations spoil many good things

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

Daily devotional

March 9 – Foolish leaders spoil many good things

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.” - Matthew 23:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 In this chapter, God is saying we do foolish things which can tear down the wise things we’ve done. The writer proves this point with four practical examples. The example today is in verses 5-7. Not all people in authority are wise! We might think prime ministers, presidents, conference speakers, or pastors with their PhDs are wise, able to teach, lead, and organize for the good of others. Sadly though, halls of power are often upside down. Ignoble people ride noble horses, while noble people walk the ground. People with great influence can often have selfish ambition in their hearts” (James 3:14), consequently spoiling countries, families and churches. How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? By trusting people who are not trustworthy because we want what they have. For example, we go to a particular seminar or conference to learn the key to the Christian life, or how to be a better homeschooler. We trust so and so’s book; after all they are leaders. Yet, in the end, they didn’t bring the peace of Christ to us. They brought us to legalism or antinomianism, or we became self-righteous, or we gave our money to this candidate believing in him, only to hear he was a womanizer. Many times Christians have followed a “movement” only to find disappointment in the end. Christian, don’t follow any movement or man other than Jesus and His movement. Jesus and His truth never disappoint. Suggestion for prayer Pray for your pastor, elders, and deacons. Pray selfish ambition would not spoil them. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 8 – Rage spoils many good things

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” - Ephesians 4:26 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1-4 Yesterday we read of the blessing of wisdom, but in our fallenness, none of us is perfectly wise or appreciates wisdom all the time! We should imagine that the wisdom we might have gained in life, would make us powerful and protect us from all mistakes and slip-ups! In chapter 10, God tells us to turn away from the false, self-righteous idea that a wise person will have a trouble-free, perfect life. Even wise people do dumb things which bring trouble into life. Our Father warns us of this in verse 1! We can do foolish things which can tear down the wise things we’ve done. No matter how wise we might be, we still slip up; we can still be foolish, so we need God! The writer proves this point with four practical examples. Let’s look at the first one in verses 1-4 Being calm and self-controlled in volatile situations, especially before authorities is wise. Fools are inclined to pride and think hot-blooded protest will work. But wisdom says in verse 4, don’t be angry before authority, be calm and self-controlled. How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? By being a hot-head. Politicians, parents, or pastors in their anger can blow their top. Lack of self-control is the fly in the perfume that makes the perfume stink. As Christians, we know this, yet we often fall. All of us always need the forgiving and sanctifying grace of Jesus. Suggestion for prayer Forgive me, Jesus, when I blow up before others. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 7 – The treasure of wisdom

“Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” - Proverbs 8:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:16-17; 10:2, 10, 12 This Sunday, let’s remember that wisdom is better than might and the words of the wise are better than the shoutings of an unwise ruler. Why is this true? Because scripture tells us. The wise have knowledge about what kind of words to say and when to say them. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). Wisdom enables people to get things done. The man in v.13-15 got things done. Wisdom can help a person in a tight spot and enables a person to get along with others. Foolish people always seem to live a life of drama because they don’t know how to listen and get at the real issue, whereas wisdom inclines a person to truth (10;2a), helps one to succeed (10:10b), and makes a man’s words winsome (10:12). Wisdom is helpful because it also admits that life is complex; that there is black and white, as well as grey, and that which is good, better, and best of all. Well, biblical wisdom helps us discern the best way through the complexity of life. Simply living wisely is living in the Spirit; being enabled to get things done, love people, use your God-given skills, enjoy the gifts of God properly…and to fear God, asking in every situation, “Will this glorify God?” Suggestion for prayer Ask God for wisdom in faith believing (James 1:5-8). Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 1 – Introducing our study of Ecclesiastes 9-12

Earlier, my devotionals explored God’s message from Ecclesiastes chapters 1-7. The devotional meditations for March 2021 will continue our readings in Ecclesiastes, particularly Ecclesiastes chapters 9-12. Before we begin let’s remind ourselves of the author of Ecclesiastes, its overarching themes, and the general outline of the book. Solomon, by the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote this book. He is the son of David, king in Jerusalem (1:1, 16). The title means “the Preacher” or “one who assembles.” Solomon was an assembler of the people (12:9-11). Near the end of his life (around 930 BC), he assembled the people together to hear Ecclesiastes! Wisdom, joy, the fear of God, the sovereignty of God, and repentance are the overarching themes. Therefore, Ecclesiastes preaches Jesus to us. After all, Jesus is the wisdom and joy of God who sovereignly rules, and is the reason why people repent of sin to live life with meaning. Welcome back to Ecclesiastes “...but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” – 1 Peter 2:25b Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6; 12:9-14; 1 Peter 2:21-25 Ecclesiastes can be divided into four distinct sections. 1 – Chapters 1-2 Life without God is vanity. However, life lived in Christ brings meaning and joy. In God, wisdom, pleasure, knowledge, and possessions are gifts to enjoy for God’s glory. 2 – Chapters 3-5 The overarching theme is: God is sovereign over our lives. Our lot in life is His will for us (3:11a, 17b, 22; 5:2b, 18-19). 3 – Chapters 6-8 Life brings us face to face with tragedies. Solomon speaks about evil and the wicked (6:1,2, 7:15, 17, 25; 8:3,5, 8, 10-11, 13-14). However, God is sovereign over all and we do not always know why he allows what happens to us. (7:14, 25-29; 8:17). The conclusion to which God drives us is in chapter 8:10-17 – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. 4 – Chapters 9-12 This is the section we will study this month. Notice chapter 9:1. “But all this I laid to heart, examining it all.” “All this,” means all the breadth and depth of human life. All the awesome sovereign ways of God spoken of in chapter 1-8, he has lain to heart. Now he gives some concluding, “this-is-what-it-is-to-live-by-faith” points. These come from what he has said and drive us to confess the life of faith described in chapter 12:13-14. The conclusion is: live by faith in God, and though life is not always explainable, God can be trusted through it all…Christ is our One Shepherd to guide us so rejoice and live by his Word. Suggestions for prayer Pray we would examine life and understand we must live it by faith. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 28 – The consummation of God’s mission for His glory

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away - Revelation 21:1 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:8-13 Today is again a Sunday. Earlier we saw that every Sabbath day was meant to remind Israel that the reason for her existence was that she was called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. We also saw that the Sabbath was a guarantee that God would one day reach this goal. One day, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is now hidden in the glory of the Father, will suddenly appear in glory and usher in the eternal Sabbath rest in the kingdom of God where humanity and creation will be transfigured by being glorified into the likeness of the resurrected and glorified Christ. Before this, God will first come in judgment with a cosmic fire that completely destroys the old heavens and the earth with all its unrighteous works. Once the heavens and earth are completely destroyed, God will usher in a new heaven and earth, according to His promise, where righteousness will dwell. Thus, the continuity between the old creation and the new creation lies in God’s faithfulness to His mission for His glory to make all things new. God’s mission for His glory, which began with the creation of the world and humanity, will then continue for all eternity as a new humanity participates in this mission for God’s glory by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven, visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His faithfulness to His mission. Thank Him that every Sunday is a guarantee that His mission for His glory will reach its goal in a new heaven and new earth where He will be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 27 – Christ living in us and God’s mission

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20 Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 When God fulfills the promise of the new covenant by circumcising our hearts and filling us with the Holy Spirit, it is no longer we who live, but Christ Who lives in us. Just like a vine reproduces its own life in its branches, so Christ reproduces His life of glorifying the Father in our lives when we, through faith, clothe ourselves with Him, through the Holy Spirit. Participating in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible through having Christ live in us with His Spirit will lead to a cruciform or cross-shaped life. This involves denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus. In losing our life and following Jesus, we will find it in His death and resurrection. However, this will lead to a participation in the sufferings and death of Christ. Participating in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through having Christ Jesus live in us with His Spirit, will also lead to a resurrectional life that bears witness to the resurrection of God’s new creation. This resurrection life of God’s new creation is a manifestation of the wholeness of a life of love for God and one’s neighbour. However, like leading a cruciform life of daily putting off the old self in Adam, leading a resurrectional life of daily putting our new self in Christ will involve participating in the sufferings of Christ. Yet, these sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the blessing that Christ now lives in us with His Spirit when we put Him on through faith. Ask your heavenly Father to help you consider it a joy to suffer together with Christ. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 21 – Christ’s sacrifice of His life and God’s mission

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

Daily devotional

February 20 – Baptized with the Spirit and God’s mission (2)

...And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased… - Luke 3:22 Scripture reading: Luke 3:21-22 Jesus was not only baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to be empowered for His mission as Israel’s true prophet, priest, and king. He was also baptized with the Holy Spirit because He would baptize all flesh with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. In His baptism with the Spirit, He permanently possessed the Spirit. As such, He is God’s beloved Son with Whom the Father is well pleased. Having a family of sons and daughters, who are permanently filled with the Holy Spirit, who participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth, is what God always wanted. This is why He created Adam and Eve in His image. This is why He commanded them to participate in His mission for His glory by commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. They were to have dominion over creation, ruling together with Him as kings and taking care of creation together with Him as priests. In doing so, they would spread the life of Eden over the whole earth. This is why He embarked on a redemptive mission for His glory by promising to defeat sin, death and the devil and make all things new (Genesis 3:15). This is why He chose Abraham and Israel to participate in His mission for His glory as His treasured possession and make Him visible to the nations by being His kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is why He chose you. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He adopted you in Christ to one day be fully filled with the Holy Spirit so that you can make Him visible on a new earth. Thank Him that He has given you the first instalment of the Spirit so you can begin to make Him visible to those around you. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.  ...

Daily devotional

February 19 – Baptized with the Spirit and God’s mission (1)

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. - Matthew 3:16 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:13-17 Having been conceived and born by the Spirit, Jesus grew and became strong in the Spirit. Moreover, He was baptized by John in the Jordan. Because Israel had failed to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth, John calls them to repent and be baptized with a baptism of repentance or else face the fire of God’s coming judgment. Christ, however, identifies with Israel and is baptized just like Israel in order to fulfill all righteousness, even though He, as the true Israel, does not need a baptism of repentance. In doing so, as God’s beloved Son, He publicly and officially becomes Israel’s substitute and representative so that Israel can be freed from the curse of the law and can finally fulfill its role of bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations, by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Having identified with Israel as their substitute and representative, Jesus was also baptized or anointed with the Spirit when He rose from the water of His baptism. Whereas being anointed with oil in the Old Testament symbolized being publicly consecrated for being a prophet, priest, or king and being empowered for these tasks by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is publicly consecrated and empowered for His task as Israel’s prophet, priest, and king directly by the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, Jesus will fulfill His mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that, because you share in the anointing of Christ, you participate in His ministry of prophet, priest, and king, and in doing so, you participate in God’s mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 13 – God’s mission and the failure of his covenant with Israel 

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. - 1 Samuel 8:7 Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 8 As God predicted, the failure to keep His covenant, soon became a reality in the Promised Land. Not only did Israel fail to drive out all the Canaanites, their life soon resembled the life of the Canaanites. Repeatedly, we read, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, Who brought them out of Egypt. They went after and bowed down to other gods, from among the gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:11-12). By the end of the book of Judges, Israel became like the nations and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. We see the same failure when Israel demands a king like all the nations. Although when God made His second covenant with Abraham, he promised that kings would come forth from His descendants (Genesis 17:6, 16), Israel demands a king. They reject God as their king. When God grants Saul as Israel’s first king, Saul also rejects God as his king. Because he rejects God as king, God rejects him as king. This constant failure to keep God’s covenant leads to the bankruptcy or failure of God’s covenants with Israel. This, in turn, leads to the uncertainty of whether God can still use Israel in His mission for His glory by bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations and making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you whether you are serving any other gods in your life. If you are, ask Him for forgiveness and renewal of life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 12 – God’s law and God’s mission

Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life… - Ezekiel 20:25 Scripture reading: Psalm 19:7-14 Yesterday, we saw that God predicted that Israel would fail to keep His third covenant with them because their hearts were not circumcised. Today, we see that Israel would also not be able to keep this third covenant because the commandments He gave them were not good, nor could they give life. Elsewhere in Scripture, we read that God’s commandments are good. For instance, the psalmist writes that the law of God is perfect, pure, and true. He also writes that the law of God revives the soul, makes wise the simple, enlightens the eyes. Consequently, God’s law is to be desired more than gold and is sweeter than honey. God’s law is all of this and more because it shows Israel how to participate in God’s mission for His glory, by bearing witness to the glory of God’s perfect life through living a life of love: love for God and love for one’s neighbour. However, the law does not give the power to keep God’s commandments. In this sense, they are not good and do not give life. Accordingly, Israel’s failure to keep God’s law placed them under the condemnation of the law. Suffering the consequences of their disobedience, clearly laid out in the law, Israel, in exile in Ezekial’s time, reflected on God’s judgement in their lives. This reinforces why God needs to circumcise the people’s hearts so that they can experience the goodness of His law through the obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Praise God about the goodness of His law. Thank Him that Christ has delivered you from the condemnation of the law and that the Holy Spirit enables you to fulfil the requirement of the law as you abide in Christ. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 11 – Circumcision of the heart and God’s mission

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. - Deuteronomy 30:6 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-10 Yesterday, we saw that God made His third covenant with Israel, a new generation committed to participate in God’s mission for His glory. This was to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. However, this new generation is no better because their hearts were just as uncircumcised as those of the previous generation. To participate in God’s mission for His glory, our hearts need to be circumcised. This means that just as physical circumcision removes a piece of flesh from a male’s foreskin, so spiritual circumcision removes the ways of the flesh from our hearts. Because the first generation of Israelites had not done this, most of them were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. When God made His third covenant with Israel, He predicted that they would be just like the first generation. Accordingly, they would not be able to walk in His ways, keep His commandments, and obey His voice and experience the blessings of living in covenant with God. As a result, they would experience the curses of the covenant as well as the ultimate curse of exile from the Promised Land. Yet, precisely because God is faithful to the drama of His mission for His glory, He offers His people hope by promising to come to the rescue of His mission for His glory and one day bring His people Israel to repentance by circumcising their hearts and restoring them to the Promised Land. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father what you may need to be circumcised in your heart if it is hindering you from walking in His ways, keeping His commandments, listening to His voice and thus participating in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” - Exodus 24:8 Scripture reading: Exodus 24:1-8 Keeping God’s covenant as His treasured possession that functions as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, will involve Israel keeping God’s commandments and statutes (Exodus 20-23). To impress upon the people His holiness and the required holiness of living in His presence, God manifests Himself to them in a powerful display of His majesty and holiness (Exodus 19:16-25). When Israel keeps God’s covenant in this way, she will not only increasingly learn what participating in God’s mission for His glory entails, she would also concretely bear witness to the surrounding nations what that involves.  Essentially, it involves a life of love, living for others as God lives for others (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s covenant with Israel is formally ratified in Exodus 24. After telling them all of God’s commandments and statutes, the people agreed to keep them. Having offered sacrifices to God, Moses threw some of the blood of the sacrifices on the altar, symbolizing God’s presence, and some of the people, symbolizing their willingness to participate in God’s mission for His glory. The people again repeat their commitment to be God’s treasured possession by being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation through keeping God’s covenant. In doing so, they formally agree to be God’s means to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by being a people and a place where heaven and earth meet because they bear witness to the glory of God’s perfect life by living a life of love, i.e. Living for the other. Suggestions for prayer When you publicly professed your faith, you publicly promised to participate in God’s mission for His glory. Ask your heavenly Father to help you keep your commitment. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 4 – The theatre of God’s mission for His glory

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. - Exodus 19:5-6 Scripture reading: Genesis 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:9-10 God called Abraham and Sarah to make a complete break with their past, leaving behind everything dear to them, and go to the land that He would show them. He wanted to use them to deal with the problem of sin in the world caused by Adam and Eve, by having them bear witness to the glory of His loving presence to one another and to the world around them, by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! God’s two covenants with Abraham were demonstrations of His faithfulness to this purpose. Before God makes His covenant with Israel as a nation, He explains what kind of a nation Israel will be if they keep His covenant. They will have the status of being His treasured possession among all people, meaning they will be a people with whom He has a valued and special relationship for the sake of the other people in the world. As a treasured possession, they will function as a kingdom of priests, who will mediate the presence of God to the nations by making Him visible through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. As a treasured possession, they will also function as a holy nation, that is a nation set apart from the other nations and consecrated to God as the theatre of God’s mission for His glory. In doing so, God wants to use them to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the privilege of belonging to His treasured possession, meant to be the theatre of His mission for His glory by bearing witness to His perfect life by living in His presence. Ask God to show you where you may need to make some changes in your life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 3 – God comes to the rescue of His mission

....And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, – Exodus 3:8 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-12 When God made His covenant with Abraham, He said, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:13-14). After 400 years, God appears to Moses and tells him that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Implied in this revelation is that He remembers His covenant with Abraham. He shares with Moses that He is going to rescue His people from Egypt and bring them back into Canaan. After ten displays of His majesty and power in Egypt, and a display of this same power in leading His people through the Red Sea, God brings them to Mount Sinai where He makes His first covenant with them. God’s covenants with His people are not independent and unrelated to each other, but update previous covenants to new situations. God’s first covenant with Israel updates His covenants with Noah and Abraham to the new situation of Abraham’s descendants becoming a nation. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for His faithfulness to His mission for His glory that He will one day rescue us from this broken world and bring us into the new creation of a new earth. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 29 – God’s name is Jehovah

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

Daily devotional

January 28 – God is unchangeable

For I am the LORD, I do not change: therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. - Mal 3:6 Scripture reading: Mal 3:1-7a God does not change, that is God in His being is never increasing or decreasing. His being, attributes and will are unchanging. Coming closer to the end of this month, we are confronted with ongoing change. What a comfort to know that everything about God never changes! God is completely dependable; He is stable like a Rock, while we are more like the ever-changing waters of the ocean. A.W. Pink shows how comforting this really is, "However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not." If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But all praise to His glorious name. He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will is stable and His word is sure." And what is even more comforting, is that when we are in Christ by faith, our salvation doesn't change either! Malachi shows that despite the fickleness and fraud of God's people, God is faithfully and patiently inviting their repentance; that's why they are not consumed. James, in 1:17, shows that every truly good gift comes from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning. We all know shadows are turning all the time as our planet keeps moving, but God never changes.  Through Christ alone, THE greatest Gift of all, God provides true stability for our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His unchanging character and wonderful dependability. Pray that knowing Him as such would translate in great and unwavering trust and stability in our lives. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 27 – God is glorious

...so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. - 2 Chronicles 5:14 Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 5:2-6:2 The word glory in the Old Testament is a word that means weightiness. In the New Testament, it has more the idea of brilliance and splendour. So, when we say that God is glorious, we mean His splendour and beautiful brilliance shines from His whole being, including His honourable reputation. In our text, the glory of God fills Solomon's temple. This was not the first time that God appeared to His people in His Shekinah glory cloud. Every time God appeared, it was a weighty and serious matter as the priests did not even dare to enter the temple, because He is so majestically glorious! In the New Testament, knowing God and being in His presence was weighty and serious (Hebrews 12:28-29). However, now we experience God's presence and glory through Jesus Christ. Paul shows that the glory of God shines in our dark hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). That's how our bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit in which God is worshipped and glorified (1 Corinthians 6:19). Contrary to our expectation, being filled with God's glory is often accompanied by personal weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) or suffering for Christ's name (1 Peter 4:14)! That makes living for God's glory still weighty and serious! Nonetheless, our comfort and hope are that the Lord of hosts will be like a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to all believers, one glorious day! (Isaiah 28:5). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's glory and presence with us will be our greatest concern and comfort in life and that we don't think mistakenly that His glory is not with us when we are weak or suffering. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 26 – God is beautiful

One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. - Psalm 27:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 27 Although the fact that God is beautiful might be strictly speaking more of an experiential reality than an attribute of God, it still shows us something of Who God is. We could say that God's beauty is an offshoot of God's goodness and/or holiness. For not only did God create our physical universe in such a way that everything sparkles with unique beauty, but especially in worship we are expected to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. The deep longing of David is to be close to God, for he knows that when we are intimate with God we experience the loveliness and comfort of His glorious character. We can study God's character factually, but this verse calls us to know Him with our whole being, both mind and heart experiencing His favour, His closeness and relishing in His loveliness. How important for us to know this experiential reality! So, let's ask ourselves today, "Do I know this experiential reality in which God is lovely, desirable, and beautiful to me?" If not, is it perhaps because we are not seeking Him with singleness of heart and focus? Ask Him to be close today! If we do, then let's praise God and let's treasure His beauty! God promised one day believers will see the King (our precious Lord Jesus) in His beauty with our very eyes (Isaiah 33:17). Now we see Him only by faith, but then we will see Him face to face treasuring Him in His temple forever (1 John 3:2). Suggestions for prayer Moses asked the Lord to show His glory. Let us ask today for God to show His beauty to our hearts. Thank God for the hope of the Gospel for all believers, who will one day see Jesus, the King in His beauty, face to face. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 21 – God is righteous

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

Daily devotional

January 20 – God is merciful

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. – Micah 7:18 Scripture reading: Micah 7:14-20 Micah the prophet, was called to expose the sins of the people. As a good lawyer, Micah thoroughly prosecuted the people of God on the Lord's behalf. He confronted their despicable sins: fraud, hypocrisy, greed, injustice, extortion and lying. But as is often the case, God's people did not want to budge. He tells them judgment will come if they persist! Yet, Micah does not leave God's people hopeless. In the last verses of his prophecy, he focuses their attention on God. He reminds the people by asking a rhetorical question, "Who is a God like You?!" If you come and confess your sin and humble yourselves before the Lord, know there is no God like ours! He pardons iniquity. He passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage. To those who truly know Him through faith and ongoing repentance, He does not retain His anger forever! He forgives like no one and nothing else! Completely and comprehensively! Why? Because our God delights in mercy! He is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. He keeps His side of the covenant, even when His people break their side of the covenant, by their wicked sins! They may return, trusting that He is not stingy, nor reluctant but happy, delighting to forgive their sins. Why? Because of what Jesus did on the cross. It pleased God to bruise Him, and delight in mercy towards repentant sinners. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He, for Christ's sake, delights in mercy. And let's be humbly grateful that God found pleasure in bruising His precious Son, in order to show us how expensive mercy really is to Him. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 19 – God is patient

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:3-13 God is patient! The fact that this world still exists in spite of all the wickedness that takes place, shows God's patience. Our smallest sin is infinitely despicable in God's eyes. This shows God's patience because our sins are committed against the infinitely high and holy Lord God. The fact that the Lord forgives His children even when at times we still fall into sin, failing to honour Him, shows God is patient. This world will one day end with judgement. Glory is awaiting all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ. A world on which righteousness dwells is promised to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Mockers, on the one hand, say, "Why didn't God fulfil His promise yet." Believers, on the other hand, stand in awe, "How can God tolerate so much sin?" Peter reminds us that the Lord is not slow to fulfil His promises. Peter writes, But the Lord is patient! He is not willing that any should perish. God is still bringing in the lost. He will continue to bring sinners to gracious repentance until the end, because He is patient! He assures us that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked! If you think God is ready to give up on you, remember His patience! If you think you are beyond hope and your sin too great, remember God shows His patience so that you come to Him in repentance. Remember, God is slow to anger! Suggestions for prayer Pray for awe for such patience with yourself and our dark world. Pray that we would not lose sight of God's amazing patience, but that many would come to repentance. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 18 – God is good

So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God." - Luke 18:19 Scripture reading: Luke 18:18-30 Jesus challenged the rich young ruler because it looked as if this man wanted to be commended by Him. If I call Him good Teacher, he thought, Jesus might call me good too. This man knew nothing about Jesus' perfections because he was puffed up about his own. He felt he was doing surprisingly well. This happens when we are blind to the spiritual nature and inflexible standard of God's law. The law is good, because God is good. And the law reflects God's character. "Everything that can be genuinely defined as good, is in some way, a reflection of God's character" Brad Hambrick wrote. When Jesus asks, "Why do you call me good?" He is not asserting that He is not good, but is testing to see if this man has any idea how good He really is and whether this man understands Who He really is. Jesus says, "No one is good but One, that is God!" We all know Jesus is God and therefore He is good! He alone kept the law perfectly. When Jesus confronts the rich young ruler with real goodness, gaining true riches in heaven instead of treasures on earth, this man went away sorrowful because he did not understand his covetous heart. Would you have stayed and followed Jesus? Or does all the goodness of this world eclipse the true goodness of God in your life? If so then you are no different from the rich young ruler. Oh, that you would have eyes to see God's goodness today! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's goodness in our lives would not be eclipsed in any way by our inflated view of our own goodness. Instead pray that we would know God's goodness, through Christ our perfect law keeper. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 13 – God is wise

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. – Daniel 2:20b Scripture reading: Daniel 2:14-23 Yesterday, we considered that God knows all things perfectly. But there is more to God's knowledge.  He uses His perfect knowledge of everything for the very best purposes, with the very best means possible, for His greatest glory and our greatest good! That is His wisdom! 100% trustworthy! The Lord makes His knowledge and wisdom available to us. He did so with Daniel so that lives would be spared and the king's dream could be explained. It brought Daniel to humble adoration, for the Lord is the Source of all wisdom! God's wisdom is not only seen in how He governs the world and upholds creation, but especially in how He designed His marvellous plan of salvation! Who could ever have thought about a world like ours? But even more so, who could ever have thought about a plan of salvation in which both justice and mercy are fully satisfied, and wretched sinners are saved to the uttermost? What unfathomable wisdom it is that the cross, (which is considered foolishness by many, and a stumbling block to others), is the place where God shows His wisdom, by crucifying Christ, God's Wisdom, in order to save fools! Truly, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the wisest person on earth! (1 Corinthians 1:20-31). Let us, like Daniel, adore God's breath-taking wisdom wherever we see it in His creation, in His providence and most of all in His wonderful salvation! Let us trust His wisdom, even when we don't understand it. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His wisdom, especially for the wisdom shown in the Gospel. Also, pray for the grace to trust His Wisdom especially in times when you don't understand what He is doing in your life. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 12 – God is all-knowing

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! - Psalm 139:17 Scripture reading: Psalm 139:11-24 We finite creatures never stop learning, unless we are too proud to learn anything new. But think about it, "There is no limit to what God knows, and there is nothing He needs to learn!" The Psalmist shows us that dark and light do not make a difference to God. Nothing escapes His knowledge. For Him, the night shines as the day! He does not only know the universe in its endless complexity, the greatest marvel is that He knows us! When you and I were created and formed, nothing escaped His attention. He knew us in the most perfect way. When His Almighty power shaped our unformed substance, there was nothing that escaped His attention. Indeed, How great is the sum of God's thoughts! God's knowledge of us, should make us honest and repentant before God, like the Psalmist, who says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart… and see if there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting." Let's never forget, He knows what you do at school, at your job, whether doors are open or closed, whether you are behind your screen, or behind another machine. He even knows your and my thoughts, anxieties and sins. He knows us, sees us, even when we might think nobody sees us. This is only comforting to us when we know and trust Christ's saving power and Christ's knowledge of us. Then we say, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!" Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His thoughts toward you, that He knows you. Pray you may learn more of His thoughts toward you in Christ, and that His thoughts might become ever more marvelous and precious to you. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 11 – God is every-where present

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? – Psalm 139:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 139:1-10 The Puritan Stephen Charnock, wrote, "Innumerable worlds cannot be a sufficient place to contain God; He can only be a sufficient place to Himself." That's the reality of God being everywhere present! He is in constant touch with the universe He created. He is present on our planet, in the sky, in space, in heaven and in hell. But still, God is greater; He is beyond everything created. We realize that God is not present everywhere in the same way. In hell, for instance, He is present with His judging power and in creation with His upholding power. Yet, there is nothing better than His special and favourable presence with us when His hand leads us and His powerful right-hand holds us. In the Old Testament, God was present through His Shekinah glory cloud filling the tabernacle. But in the New Testament, that glory cloud hovered over His Son, as He came to be graciously and truthfully present with us when He pitched His tabernacle among us (John 1:14). After Pentecost, His glory cloud still fills His temple, God's people. Through His Spirit, we can daily enjoy His favourable presence. God's Spiritual presence is so rich. He visits us when we are lonely, showing us our comforts in Christ. How we need a greater sense of His presence! Not just for our comfort, but especially in moments of temptation, so that we would say with Joseph, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Suggestions for prayer Thank God for Jesus, Who is God with us! Pray that you may be reminded of and comforted more by the presence of God's Holy Spirit and that His presence would guard you against sin and temptation, today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 10 – God is sovereign

For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us. - Isaiah 33:22   Scripture reading: Isaiah 33:13-24 Our government has a division of powers. Generally, a person is not a judge, lawmaker and prime minister or president all at once. Sinners who have all these three tasks, generally end up dictators. Not so with God! When we say God is sovereign, we mean He has all authority. He is our righteous Judge, Who decides, based on His tailor-made laws, how everything should be ordered in His Kingdom, for His glory and for our good. None can resist His will; none can do anything He has not ordained. Our problem, since our Fall in Paradise, is that we are law-breakers by trade; we have rebelled against His rule in our lives and He must judge us for our sins! Our Lord as Judge, Lawgiver and King will never make mistakes. He will be perfectly righteous and just. Abraham was certain, when he said, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). The short answer is, "He will!" Yet, our King, Lawgiver and Judge is also perfectly merciful! Our text shows He will save us! Salvation is through Christ, Who had God's law perfectly written on His heart. He is able to save lawbreakers! Jesus Himself, Who has all authority in heaven and earth, died on the cross and rose again and can therefore pardon rebels like us. Jesus will judge! Because He was treated as the criminal and traded places with Barabases (cf. Luke 23:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21), He liberates us through His glorious Kingship! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His sovereign justice and mercy! Thank God for Christ and the Gospel. Pray that you will enter His glorious Kingdom by faith and that He will write His law upon your heart today (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 10:16), ruling you by His Holy Spirit, until you see Jesus as your Savior and Judge. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 5 – God is transcendent

The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high? – Psalm 113:4-5 Scripture reading: Psalm 113 God is transcendent. You might wonder what that means. It means that God exists above and independent from anything and everything in our universe. In our text, it says, "He is above the nation; and the heavens; there is no God like Him, who dwells on High!" God is transcendent, that means He is exalted above everything. When we learn that God is transcendent, we realize that God should be worshipped with reverence and godly fear! We should not worship Him flippantly, but rather with great respect for Him, because He is so far beyond us and anything created which we see around us. God is transcendent, and yet we marvel that God is not unconcerned about His creatures and His creation!  He is also immanent, being very close to and caring for His creatures, especially for His own. Psalm 113 shows this very clearly. On the one hand, God is high, exalted, above and beyond anything and everything. Think about it: God even has to humble Himself to see the things that are taking place on this earth! And yet, as He humbles Himself, He looks in compassion on His creatures, raising the poor from the dust, lifting the needy out of the ash heap and granting motherhood to the barren. This is our God! Gloriously transcendent, yet preciously immanent, because of our Savior Jesus, Who came close to us when He dwelt among us. Praise the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is above everything and anything else, yet, that He is so gracious to humble Himself to see our need. Thank Him especially for sending His Son to show that He is near.  Pray for His nearness to you today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 4 – God is triune

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen. – 2 Corinthians 13:14 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:13-17 The fact that God is Triune, is strictly speaking not an attribute. However, we cannot know God properly when we don't understand that God is Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet truly One God. Our minds again are stretched when we think about God as Three and yet One. We often distinguish His blessed Persons, for instance, when we say that the Father chose His people from eternity, the Son came and redeemed sinners like us by living, dying and rising from the dead, and that the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us, changing and transforming us. And yet, these three Persons are One God! Salvation is of the One, Only True and Triune God! When we think about and pray to, or meditate about God, it is easier to do so One Person at a time. But an important question to ponder is, "How should we understand God's Tri-unity?" Jonathan Edwards, a great Puritan theologian, probably understood this best. This is what he believed about the Trinity: God the Father is God in an absolute manner, while the Son is generated by God's self-understanding or idea about Himself, and the Holy Spirit is His infinite love that freely flows to Himself. How glorious God is! He knows Himself perfectly in His Son, and He loves Himself perfectly in the Holy Spirit! And this is the God Who has been pleased to love and know us through His Son, in the powerful love of the Holy Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being Triune, relational in Himself, knowing and loving Himself. Pray that you may know Him better and love Him more, as your loving Father, blessed Savior, in the satisfying fellowship of His Holy Spirit. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 3 – God is Spirit

God is Spirit: and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. - John 4:24 Scripture reading: John 4:15-26 We all have both a body and a spirit. There is something invisible in each one of us. We see that most strikingly when a loved one dies. The body is still there, but the spirit is not. How tragic and devastating is the result of sin. So, death, among other things, teaches us for a fact that we all have a spirit. In our text, God says that He Himself is Spirit. He is pure Spirit. He doesn't have a body. Yet, He shows Himself to us. How is that possible? Through His Word, we read about glorious appearances to both sinners and saints. When still in Paradise, God's Spirit spoke directly to Adam's spirit. This glorious, intimate and spiritual connection was ruined by our Fall into sin. As a result, by nature, we are all spiritually like a dead, lifeless body. But God came to restore our lost relationship! How? At Christmas, God, Who is eternal and a pure Spirit, took upon Himself a body, taking the place of guilty and spiritually dead sinners, ultimately by experiencing forsakenness of God. That's how we can have an intimate relationship with God again. Now, He speaks to us through His Word, by His Spirit and we pray to Him again. But most amazing is that, in salvation, our glorious God dwells with His Spirit in every believer! That's the only reason why you and I can worship Him, in spirit and truth. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for being a Spirit, who through Christ and His Holy Spirit is able to communicate to our spirit. Pray that the Lord will nourish your spiritual relationship with Him today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 2 – God is simple

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." - Exodus 34:6-7 Scripture reading: Exodus 33:17-23 & 34:5-7 Perhaps you have never heard about the fact that God is simple. However, in order to know God, it is important to understand what this means. It doesn't mean that God is unintelligent or foolish, of course, nor does it mean that it is easy to understand God. So, when we say that God is simple, we mean that He is not the compound of all His attributes. In our text, God is not partly merciful, partly gracious, partly longsuffering, partly good and that all these different attributes partly make up God. God is not merely good, instead, He is goodness Himself. He defines goodness, grace and mercy by His perfect and undivided Being! He is entirely loving, entirely merciful, entirely just, and so forth. Therefore, we can legitimately say that His goodness is His love, His love is His mercy, His grace is His justice and His love is His holy jealousy. God's grace and mercy in forgiving our iniquity are not in opposition to, or of lesser importance than the fact that He visits sinners and does not clear their guilt when they continue in sin. Knowing this will minister either comfort or conviction to our soul, depending on our relationship with God. It's difficult to wrap our minds around this concept. This is His glory! His justice, righteousness and holiness are in no way opposites to His mercy, grace and love! God is one simple or united, perfect Being, full of blessedness! Suggestions for prayer Worship the Lord for His undivided Being and pray for an undivided heart to serve Him. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 28 – The time has come

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

Daily devotional

December 27 – Christmas decoration

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

Daily devotional

December 26 – Jesus, our Emmanuel

... and they shall call his name Emmanuel (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23b Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 When babies are born they need to be given a name. Some parents choose a family name, a Bible name, or just some name they happen to like. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was different. Joseph already knew the name the Child was to receive. That name was “Jesus,” which means saviour. Yet, this holy Child received another name too, Emmanuel, according to the prophecy that God had given to Isaiah centuries before. It is a name which means “God with us.” Yesterday, we celebrated the birth of our Emmanuel. He entered this world as God come down to us. The Saviour joined himself to His creatures, who needed Him. This is the miracle we celebrate at Christmas. With joy, we acknowledge that we have a divine Saviour Who knows us and sympathizes with us because He shared life with us. He shared fully in our human existence. All this is true not just for the years long ago when Christ walked this earth. It is true today. The fact has not changed. Our Lord and Saviour is “God with us.” He is with us, with you and me, to forgive us, to encourage us, to listen to our prayers, to care for us, and to comfort us. The Gospel tells us that the baby born in Bethlehem, the son of Mary and the Son of God, is God with us. He came to bless us and save us. May that be for you the lasting message of Christmas, a treasure in your heart. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that you and those around you will know by faith the great, lasting comfort we have in believing that Jesus is our Emmanuel. Pray that others will come to know Him too. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 25 – Joyful at Christmas

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-14 On Christmas Day our hearts should be ready to receive a full, overflowing experience of JOY. That was the angels' message. God sent His Son to save His people. What could be more joyful news than that? May this news of hope, of God's plan of salvation, bring joy to your heart today and in all the days to come! It is news for all the people. You can share that joy. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, all those who come to the Lord in humble faith are welcome to share this joy, because according to the plan of God, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ has gone out and is going out to all the peoples of the world. Humbly respond to the Spirit's call to faith and you also will share in the blessed joy which fills the hearts of God's people today. The angels' message declares, "Fear not!" In a world filled with perils, terrorist violence, disease, pain and death, how is it possible to live without fear? We Christians can live with joy in our hearts, with confidence in God's care because we have heard and believed the Good News. True, lasting joy comes, not with a pile of presents, not with decorations, not with big dinners, but the real joy of Christmas was revealed by the angels, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Let the good news of the Saviour's birth fill your heart with lasting joy. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the glad tidings of Christmas will fill your heart with joy. Ask the Lord to help you share that joy with others around you. Pray for the cause of missions, so that the message of salvation will go out to all the peoples. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 20 – Jesus, the Man of Heaven

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

Daily devotional

December 19 – Christ’s suffering

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

Daily devotional

December 18 – Christ, our King

...there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 Scripture reading: Daniel 7:1-14 The child, so humbly born in Bethlehem, is our king! The wise men recognized this and Herod feared this. Christians rejoice in this. Though this world is in rebellion against Christ and the powers of this world rage against the Lord, His kingdom and His people, nevertheless, in fulfillment of this prophecy given to Daniel, the Lord Jesus, having accomplished His ministry, now reigns in heaven. He rules His church and the day shall come when every knee will bow to Him in heaven and on earth. For God's Old Testament people, in Babylonian exile, the future kingdom of the Son of Man was a shining beacon giving hope to Daniel and all those who looked ahead to the coming of the Messiah. By faith, Daniel's hope was in his kingly Saviour. In these often violent and difficult days in which we live, may our hope be in Christ, our King, Who sits on heaven's throne at the right hand of God the Father. He will return, as He promised, and bring in the glorious fullness of His Kingdom. Jesus was born to be our King. To Him belong dominion, glory and an eternal kingdom. What joy this truth brings to our hearts! When by God's election we are called to be servants of the King, we gain a wonderful confidence. Jesus rules. Jesus leads. May our hearts be filled with hope. Trust the prophetic promise. The child who came into this world in Bethlehem's stall will return with power and glory to usher in His everlasting kingdom! Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus be the king of your heart and life. Ask the Lord to show you ways in which even now you can do your part as His servant in building up His kingdom on earth, the church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 17 – Christ, our priest

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned- every one- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 According to the command of God, Old Testament priests offered sacrifices, symbols of the need to atone for sin that so offended the Lord. All fallen humanity has sinned; now something must be given to cleanse us before we appear at the judgment throne of God. A priest, an intercessor, is needed to offer such a sacrifice. Who is that priest? What is the sacrifice that God accepts? The animal sacrifices of Old Testament times, offered up by Aaron and his descendants, could not atone for sin. They were symbols of what was needed. The Christmas account marks the start of God's great work, sending His Son into this world to be our great High Priest, our Intercessor, and the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). God Himself provided the priest and the sacrifice, His beloved Son. If the world around us gives a thought to Jesus at Christmas, it is one of cloying sentimentality. All it sees is a cute baby, as pictured on so many Christmas cards. Christians, however, know that Jesus was born to be our great High Priest. His task was to offer to God the Father the perfect, atoning sacrifice, His body and blood upon the cross. We need no earthly priest like the Israelites of old. We need no further sacrifices, because Jesus paid it all at the cross. God grant us faith to lovingly appreciate the redeeming work of Jesus, since through His sacrifice we are saved. Suggestions for prayer Seek the Lord's pardon with a prayer of confession and of trust in the cleansing power of Jesus' sacrifice. Pray for the conversion of those who think earthly priests can still intercede for them. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 12 – The Christmas witness

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

Daily devotional

December 11 – The Christmas light

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

Daily devotional

December 10 – Happy Hanukkah

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. – John 10:22,23 Scripture reading: John 10:22-39 Today, our Jewish neighbours begin their celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights. We read in John 10 that Jesus was in the temple at Hanukkah. This Feast was a yearly reminder to the Jews that after the Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the temple, the Jews, in 165 BC, were able to recapture Jerusalem and rededicate the temple. To relight the candlestick they needed consecrated oil, but that would take eight days to process. The Jews said that by a miracle the candlestick burned for eight days with only enough oil for one day. That is why light is the symbol of this feast. What has all this to do with us? John was inspired to include the fact that Jesus was in the temple at the Feast of Dedication. This should call to our minds and hearts that God sent His Son, Jesus, Who came to the temple and declared, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). This should remind us of God's faithfulness in providing the light of life in a world made dark by sin. It should remind us to hold fast to God's covenant promises as He fulfills them completely. Through them, we find spiritual strength to confront the darkness of Satan and the world. Through faith in Christ, the Light of the world, we find saving strength. May the perfect light of the Saviour shine upon us forever. Suggestions for prayer Make it your petition that God will prosper the work of Christian missions among the Jewish people. Pray that the Gospel light will shine brightly in your heart and home. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 9 – Christ’s sacrifice

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – Galatians 4:4,5 Scripture reading: Galatians 3:23-4:7 Christmas marks the occasion when the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary and took on human flesh. As such, He experienced temptations, physical weakness and pain. His birth is the start of His life of suffering and obedience to the Father's will. The heart of that obedience was that Christ was born to be our sacrifice for sin. Such a sacrifice is essential for us because our sins alienate us from God and His love, and it is needed to satisfy God's righteous justice. In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son. Because our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to live under God's Law in perfect obedience and because He willingly offered Himself on Calvary's cross, when we come to Him through the Spirit's gift of faith, He forgives our sin. As forgiven sinners, God receives us for the sake of His Son. This is possible because God sent His Son to be our perfect sacrifice. Those who truly celebrate Christmas acknowledge this fact and rejoice in it. While so many around us indulge themselves in a merely sentimental, secular Christmas, for Christians it is different. As one who once was condemned by your breaking of God's Law, prepare your heart for a true celebration of Christmas by knowing you need salvation and every day you need a sacrifice for sin. Prepare for Christmas by depending on Christ alone to satisfy your need and to make you, through Christ's sacrifice, a child of God by a gracious adoption! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a humble heart that acknowledges your spiritual need. Thank God for His marvellous love in sending His Son to meet your needs. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 4 – A light for the nations

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

Daily devotional

December 3 – Joseph’s obedience

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife. – Matthew 1:24 Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 In our modern celebration of Christmas, Joseph seems to have disappeared. He is in the Gospel story and in many manger scenes, but his place in the blessed event seems overlooked or forgotten. Why? Satan has filled our modern world with the sin of rebellion. When we read the Christmas story, Joseph appears as a man of obedience, the opposite of rebellion. The Lord called Joseph to his part and Joseph obeyed. It seemed that all the forces of the world conspired against Joseph to impel him to disobey the bidding of the Lord's angel. Why should he give up his legal right to divorce Mary? Why should he go through all the emotional turmoil of dealing with this unexpected turn of events? Yet, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took Mary home and protected her. He established a family and home into which the Son of God was welcomed. Such an example of wholehearted obedience is not popular in our sinful, rebellious age. Through His Word in Matthew 1, the Lord is calling us to respond as people of faith, who hear the Gospel message and respond with faith, but also with obedience. How do you plan on celebrating Christmas? God calls each of us to be a witness to our own family and to a watching world. Your obedience to the Lord, when others see you actually do what the Lord commands, is a powerful witness. May that witness shine brightly this Christmas season and always! Suggestions for prayer Pray for inner spiritual strength for yourself and your loved ones that your witness will be strong and bright this Christmastide through practical acts of obedience to the Lord's will. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 2 – Preparing the way

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways. – Luke 1:76 Scripture reading: Luke 1:67-80 Big events require preparation and Christmas is no exception. The first Christmas was no afterthought of God. He had His divine preparations. As part of that, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Zachariah, the priest. In the temple, where Zachariah was performing his priestly duties, Gabriel gave him a message. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a son, John, whose task would be to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. John's message was a call to repentance. The heart that is prepared for Jesus is a repentant heart. None other will do. John's message was gracious, true to his name which means “the Lord is gracious.” He was preparing the people to receive God's gracious gift, His Son, Who would earn forgiveness for His people through His death and establish forgiveness in the power of His resurrection. John did his work. He preached about sin, repentance and forgiveness. The way was prepared for Jesus by His cousin, John the Baptist. Today we are called to prepare a way for the Lord. How? We must be prepared to show those around us, by word and deed, that Christmas is a remembrance of God's great gift of His Son. God also calls us to prepare personally by receiving into our hearts, by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only a person who truly trusts by faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour is really prepared to rejoice in the glad celebration of Christmas. May you, by grace through faith, be well prepared. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and those around you will prepare for your Christmas celebrations with a focus on our need to repent and on the power of Christ Jesus to forgive. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to December’s devotionals

As one might expect, the focus of our attention in this month of December is the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. There is no end to the blessing of reflecting upon the great gift of God the Father, namely, His beloved Son, Whom He gave to us for our salvation. Most of us live in places where, sadly, those around us celebrate a merely secular Christmas. We must confess that all too often we can get caught up in the hectic, almost frantic, pace of such celebrations, which are the sole object of attention for our neighbours, co-workers and friends. How important it is, then, to make sure that on a daily basis our attention is fixed on the true meaning of Christmas, the holy birth of Jesus, our Saviour. It is my hope and intention that by delving into the Scriptures day by day throughout this month of December, we can lift up our hearts heavenward and nourish our souls by reflecting upon the true meaning of Christmas. May this daily devotional, together with personal prayer and public worship, help us to praise and thank God for sending us His Son. Have a blessed Christmas! Rejecting Christmas He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. – John 1:11 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 The Christmas rush is already in full swing. All around us, people are frantically busy purchasing presents, planning parties and decorating their homes as they prepare to celebrate a secular Christmas. Santa, not Jesus, is the main character for them. Parties, not worship, are their priority. As Christians, we view this with sadness and we might quickly say that such folks are rejecting the true meaning of Christmas. Our Scripture reading speaks of a rejecting of Christmas, but not by the secular multitudes. Our text says, "He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him." As we begin our month of devotions, I urge you to reflect on this. Remember that at the first coming of our Lord, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and the leadership of God's Old Testament people rejected the Saviour with devastating consequences. The shepherds and the wise men rejoiced in Jesus' birth, but the vast majority of people did not, even though they claimed to be awaiting the Messiah. We, many of us, know the promises of God. We share in the life of the church. What a shame it would be if we rejected the very truth of Christmas by failing to crown the Prince of Peace as Lord of our lives. It can happen. Years ago, at the actual event, Jesus came, and His own people did not receive Him. Today, let us receive Him by faith as He truly is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour! Rejoice, for the Messiah has come! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your heart and the hearts of those around you and that as the Christmas season begins, your focus of attention will be on the gift of God, Jesus, Whom you are to receive humbly by grace through faith. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 26 – The (He)art of celebration

“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:32 Scripture reading: Luke 15:32; Psalm 107:1-9 Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. It is a day to celebrate our Father’s lavish gifts to us in creation and redemption. In Luke 15, each parable ends with a celebration of redemption. Let’s think about the heart and the art of celebration. Let’s use the story-line of redemption – guilt, grace, gratitude – to fuel celebration. Imagine Little Brother at the party. Humble awe overwhelms him as he considers past guilt. He does not deserve such lavish love and celebration! He had turned his back on his father. He had said, “I want your stuff, not you.” He had squandered one-third of the estate. At Christian celebrations, big brothers and little brothers remember together that they are unworthy of their place at the Father’s table. Memories of past guilt intensify Little Brother’s marvel at his father’s grace. His father had not only received him back as his son, he had done so with lavish joy and generosity. Against the dark backdrop of our guilt, our Father’s amazing grace for us in Christ shines still more. At Christian celebrations, big brothers and little brothers bask in God’s grace together. The wonder of such grace in the face of such guilt floods Little Brother with gratitude. When wonder fills you for all God has done for you in Christ, it overflows in thanksgiving and praise. Big brothers and little brothers declare, “Let me tell you what the Lord has done for me!” Their lives, also, become offerings of gratitude (Romans 12:1-2). Suggestions for prayer Acknowledge out loud what the Lord has done for you. Ask Him to fill your heart with gratitude today. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 25 – A cliff-hanger

“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:32 Scripture reading: Luke 15:31-32; Jonah 4:1-11 The father has said to Big Brother, “My son, I love you and want you at the party. I don’t want you to miss out on this celebration of amazing grace. The lavish grace I’ve poured out on Little Brother is for you too. Will you receive it?” “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad,” his father says, “for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). Does your heart rejoice at the miracle of amazing grace?  Do you love to see the spiritually dead come to life? Does it thrill you when the lost are found? Does it, even when it means sharing a pew with people who don’t know how to behave in church? Does it, even when it makes church life complicated and messy? This story is a cliff-hanger. It ends with Little Brother inside and Big Brother outside. It ends with one who had turned from God and the church, now filled with the joy of the Lord in worship. It ends with the established church member far from his Father, trapped in self-righteousness, resentment, pride and insecurity. The story ends with Big Brother at a fork in the road. It ends with Jesus’ listeners at the same fork in the road. Like the prophet Jonah, they must decide, “Will we join the party? Will we embrace the purpose for which our Father redeemed us – partnership in His mission to rescue the lost?” Will you? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His amazing grace. Ask Him to help you join the party and embrace your purpose in His family. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 24 – The Gospel for big brother(s)

And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” – Luke 15:31 Scripture reading: Luke 15:31-32; Ephesians 1:3-14 The father’s answer reveals His heart for Big Brother too. “Son, you are always with me and all that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31). First, he calls him “Son” even though Big Brother rudely refused to call Him “Father”. This points us right back to the gospel of Christ that big brothers need to internalize. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Big brothers tend to believe and behave like servants rather than sons in the family of God. Whatever their official doctrine, they aim to earn God’s approval and blessings. This leads to pride, insecurity and resentment in our relationship with God and others. We need to remember that, through faith in Christ, we are God’s children! In Christ, our Father not only offers us a covenant relationship. He also lavishes on us His covenant resources. “All that is mine is yours,” our Father says (Luke 15:31b). Big Brother had groused, “These many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29b). But that young goat, and everything else on the estate, was already his, by grace! Augustus M. Toplady summarized it well in How Vast the Benefits Divine. “How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess! We are redeemed from sin and shame and called to holiness.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the “benefits divine which we in Christ possess.” Ask Him to reassure you of your identity as His child. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 23 – Big brother today

“You never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came… you killed the fattened calf for him.” – Luke 15:29c-30 Scripture reading: Luke 15:28b-30; Jeremiah 17:5-8 Who is Big Brother today? He is the church member who says, “I’ve served and sacrificed, but you haven’t _________.” She is the church member who resents a little brother’s joy in the Lord. He is the church member who looks down on the person beside him in the pew and says, “Thank God I don’t have his issues!” (Luke 18:9-12). She is the church member who feels resentment slowly replacing her joy as she serves. She feels unloved and unappreciated by God and others. She needs to step back awhile to find her identity and worth in her Father’s love, not in her performance. He is the critic quick to point out what is wrong with the church but cannot see or celebrate the wonderful things God is doing in people’s lives. She is the member who resents the pastor for spending too much time with little brothers. He rewards himself with pornography because he sacrifices so much to serve God and others. Big Brother is the church that does not share our Father’s heart for little brothers. Do you see yourself above? Our greatest need is to know the gospel of Jesus deeply in our hearts! The more we see ourselves as great sinners, the more humility replaces our pride. The more we see Jesus as our Great Savior, the more confidence replaces our insecurity. The more we rest in our Father’s radical love for us, the greater is our freedom to love, enjoy and serve God and others. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for revealing to you Christ in the gospel. Pray that the gospel might take deep root and bear fruit in your life. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 18 – Introducing big brother

Now his older son was in the field… – Luke 15:25a Scripture reading: Luke 15:25a; Psalm 139:23-24 The spotlight shifts from the younger son to the older son. This is Big Brother. Ah, Big Brother, the responsible first-born! He is exactly where we would expect to meet him, out in the field, working hard. When his little brother took off, Big Brother stuck around to take care of business. You can count on him. He is the one you call on when you need a thing done and you need it done right. Can you relate to Big Brother? Every year, they look to you to plan the family reunion. It goes without saying. You are always on a committee at church and often the chair. You have served multiple terms as elder or deacon in your church. When something goes wrong, you get the text or call. You are known as that person at home, church and work. Thank God for the big brothers among us! We appreciate who you are and all you do. God is using you in your spheres of service. Big brothers are like reliable cars that keep chugging. They require minimal maintenance and never break down. However, even reliable cars – and big brothers – need a look under the hood now and then. We need to check our hearts before God. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our Father sometimes uses little brothers to surface sin and idols lurking in the hearts of big brothers. Stay tuned. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the opportunities He has given you to serve Him. Ask Him for grace to examine your heart before Him. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 17 – Party time!

And they began to celebrate. – Luke 15:24b Scripture reading: Luke 15:22-24; Isaiah 25:6-9 Redemption calls for celebration! The Bible is full of parties, complete with lavish feasts to celebrate the mighty acts of God in redemption. For Israel, God prescribed three annual feasts to celebrate His mighty acts of redemption and restored fellowship with His people (Leviticus 23:4-8,15-22,33-43). The Bible describes the restored kingdom of heaven as a great feast (Isaiah 25:6-9; Matthew 22:1-10; Revelation 19:6-9). Jesus said, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Jesus knew how to party. He once noted, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matthew 11:19a). Does our gratitude and joy for God’s grace in Christ spill over into celebration? Do we experience the Lord’s Supper as a joy-filled feast in fellowship with our Triune God? Do we share our Father’s heart, a heart that celebrates the salvation of lost people? Our world is a dark, despairing place. People attempt to escape through destructive, degrading parties. We need to befriend them and invite them into our feasting and fun. Let them know we are Christians by the way we party. May our parties point them to Jesus, our Reason we can celebrate. Many find themselves cut off from their former friends and party scene when they come to Christ. We need to include them in our sanctified celebrations. Let’s show them how to party for real. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for one or two blessings you are grateful for today. Ask Him to fill you with contagious joy. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 16 – Restoration

“Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.” – Luke 15:22b-23 Scripture reading: Luke 15:22-24; Revelation 7:9-17 Now we reach the third “but” of our story. Little Brother has just begun his prepared speech (see Luke 15:18b-19). “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He is about to add, “Treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:19b), but the father cuts him off. The father’s exuberant, extravagant reaction makes clear that he has no intention of demoting his son to servant. He restores him to sonship. He replaces Little Brother’s rags with an impressive robe. He now stands cleansed and clothed before his father, forgiven and accepted. Our Father cleanses repentant sinners in the blood of Christ. He then clothes us in Christ and His righteousness. This was already our Father’s heart for His lost children in Genesis. “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). He puts a signet ring on his finger. This gave Little Brother signing authority over the estate. It restored his decision-making power in the family. Little Brother had just blown one-third of that estate. Yet his father trusts him to manage the estate again! Our Father, too, restores us to our kingdom calling in His family. Finally, there is great rejoicing! The mother of all parties erupts in celebration of the lost son’s return. “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Suggestions for prayer Thank our Father for lavish grace that restores us in His family. Pray that you might experience the liberating power of the gospel in your own life. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 15 – Humility

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ – Luke 15:21 Scripture reading: Luke 15:21; James 4:8-10 Stunned by his father’s welcome, the son speaks. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” This is humility. To humble yourself is to lower yourself whereas our default is to raise ourselves. We put ourselves on the throne in place of God. We say, “I am Number One. What I want is Number One.” We need to lower ourselves before God. “But I struggle with low self-image, even self-hatred,” you say. “I already feel low.” True enough. May God deliver you! But when we feel badly about ourselves, we tend to be self-absorbed. We focus on ourselves and our happiness over God and others. Even in self-hatred, we are on the throne. We humble ourselves when we lower ourselves from our thrones to bow before God. We humble ourselves when we turn our focus from self to Him. We humble ourselves when we admit that our self-exaltation makes us unworthy of His grace. We humble ourselves when we marvel at His undeserved forgiveness. Then we rejoice in our exalted position as children, loved and valued by our Father. How does humility respond to the gospel? Elizabeth Clephane states it beautifully in Beneath the Cross of Jesus: “And from my smitten heart with tears, two wonders I confess: The wonders of His glorious love and my unworthiness.” “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). Suggestions for prayer Praise God for “the wonders of His glorious love.” Pray for humility. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 10 – The end of the road (Part 2)

And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. – Luke 15:14 Scripture reading: Luke 15:14-16; Proverbs 3:11-12 In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis says that pain is God’s megaphone. Sometimes pain is God’s severe mercy to get our attention, bring us to our knees in repentance and faith, and draw us back to Him. It was God’s mercy that landed Little Brother in the pigpen, knee deep in manure. What if his money had never run out and no famine had struck? He might have lived for his own pleasure the rest of his life and landed in hell. What if the prophet Jonah had succeeded in running away from the LORD? It was the LORD’s mercy that landed him in the smelly belly of a fish. The psalmist says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word… It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:67,71). Have you experienced pain as God’s megaphone? Maybe your pain was the bitter fruit of your sinful choices. Maybe your suffering was not caused by your own sin. Either way, God used it to draw you to Him or to deepen your fellowship with Him. Maybe you know others pursuing “the” good life apart from God. It seems to be working for them. It looks like they are thriving apart from God. Pray for them. If possible, maintain relationships with them. One day, pain will cast a shadow over their lives. You will want to be present and available to point them to Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the way He uses pain redemptively as His megaphone. Ask Him for opportunities to point lost people in your life to Christ when they are in pain. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 9 – The end of the road (Part 1)

And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. – Luke 15:14 Scripture reading: Luke 15:14-16; Psalm 130:1-8 Little Brother blew through his fortune. One day his bank account bottomed out. To make matters worse, famine struck and jobs were scarce. He hit rock bottom. He landed a job with a local farmer, feeding his pigs. Pig farming is an honourable vocation today but Little Brother grew up in a first-century Jewish home under the Law of Moses. Pigs were not kosher; they were unclean. Distinctions between clean and unclean in the Law of Moses had a purpose. They reminded God’s people that He had set them apart from the world and its sinful beliefs and practices. He had set them apart for His redemptive purposes. But Little Brother had plunged into uncleanness long before he was knee deep in manure. Proximity to pigs drove that point home. Worse yet, he didn’t make a living wage. The pigs ate better than he did. Today, too, people hit rock bottom. In desperation, they do things they wouldn’t have dreamed of before: binge drink, settle for abusive relationships, steal from loved ones, or isolate from everyone. They spiral into shame and despair. Maybe this is your story. Corrie ten Boom said that no pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. Jonah ran from God and hit rock bottom – the sea bottom. Yet God heard his cry and rescued him (Jonah 2:1-10). Jesus died for us in the deepest of pits to rescue us from ours! Cry out to Him to forgive and rescue you. He will. Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for suffering in the deepest of pits to rescue us from ours. Pray for someone who has hit rock bottom or is about to hit rock bottom. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 8 – Reckless, restless living

Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. – Luke 15:13 Scripture reading: Luke 15:13; Jeremiah 2:11-13 Today is the Lord’s Day. Jesus calls us to set this day aside to rest and be refreshed in fellowship with Him and one another. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We need all the help we can get! Our hearts quickly turn from our true Source of rest to find rest in other things and people. This leaves us restless. We all chase rest apart from God. Little brothers just do so in more obvious, dramatic ways. They usually leave the covenant community to do so. The younger son “took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13b). Who is Little Brother today? She is the estranged sister who did not show up for mom’s funeral. He is the church member behind bars for molesting a child. She is the sister who comes out as gay, then marries her lover. He is the son who moves in with his girlfriend. She is the young woman who has an abortion, then slides into addiction. He is the child who returns from college ‘woke’, but wandering. She is your friend who is bitter toward the church. He is your friend, Mark, who became Mallory. As you read the previous paragraph, what surfaced in your heart? Compassion? Something else? In our Father’s eyes, we are all little brothers who need Jesus, our big brother, to bring us home. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His offer of rest in Christ. Ask the Lord to help you rest, be refreshed and rejoice in His presence today. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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