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Daily devotional

April 21 – What is a sinner to do?

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” – Acts 2:38

Scripture reading: Acts 2:22-36

Peter is tending the flock. The lost sheep of Israel are gathered and, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, Peter is explaining to them that Jesus, Whom they crucified, is their only hope for salvation.

Now what? It might feel to the crowd as if they missed the only bus. After all, Jesus was rejected and crucified. The crowd knows their sin, so they cry out, “What shall we do?” The answer Peter gives is a summary of the Christian life. This is what Peter, a sinner, learned to do and now he speaks as one sinner to another, explaining the only way to be saved.

Repent. That is, we must deny ourselves. We must flee from the idols of this world and devote ourselves wholly to God. This takes trust. We must trust that if we confess our sins, God will forgive them. This takes faith. We must have faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that if we turn from our sins, God will give us what we need to live a new life to His glory. We receive these from Christ in the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the Holy Spirit we are assured of God’s grace and given a new life wherein we can glorify God. Peter knew this gift and now he spreads the news so other sinners can know forgiveness and a new life. Do you know what it means to be forgiven and have the Holy Spirit? How can you share this good news in order that others may also know?

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you will never cease to be amazed at God’s grace to you. Ask the Lord to help you point others to the only way of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

Daily devotional

April 16 – Confidence in Peter?

“He said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” – John 21:17b  Scripture reading: Matt 16:13-23  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”. Jesus once praised Peter’s confession of Who He was and promised Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But Peter, in turn, denied Jesus; Satan came and Peter gave in. How can the church be built on the ministry of one who falters so easily? Peter is not a rock; he is crumbling sandstone. Perhaps you have wondered how you can be useful to the Lord when you have failed in the past and continue to fail. It is no small matter to feed the precious sheep of Christ. Peter is going to be looked up to. If the shepherd does wrong, the sheep suffer. We are tempted to say that Peter cannot be trusted. And we might suspect the same of ourselves, thinking we should not try to be a blessing to others or are not fit to lead our family because we have failed in the past. But Jesus knows how to build His church; it is not built on man’s power, but on God’s grace. Remember what Jesus said to Peter before? “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Peter will lead the way in calling sinners to believe in the Lord Jesus. Peter knows what grace is, and Peter knows how a wretch can be saved. Salvation is not by man’s doing, but by the grace of God. Do you rest in this grace? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His grace given to you. Ask God to keep you humble and firm in your faith so that you may be a blessing to those around you. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 15 – A trusting Peter

“He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’” – John 21:16a  Scripture reading: Psalm 116  Jesus asks again, “Do you love me?” How do we respond to that? How can we say, “I love you” to God? Especially when we, like Peter, know how weak and pale our love is compared to God’s pure and perfect love for us. Peter does not dare to claim perfect love. The word Peter uses to say, I love you is not the same as the word Jesus uses; he uses a lesser word for love. Why? Because talk is cheap. We see it today. People claim to love their spouses, but go on to forsake them. Hypocrites will boast how much they love God, acknowledging Him with their lips, but in their hearts loving other things more. Peter was there. Now there is no boasting with words. “Lord you know my heart, you know I am frail and my love is not perfect, but you know that I love you.” So is that the answer to how we say “I love” you to God? Is the key to just use humble language? No, talk is still cheap. We need to show our love. Peter had a heart that was willing to be rebuked and to serve or to go wherever the Lord would lead him. Peter’s life will show his love. That is the key. Do you love the Lord? Recognize every good thing we have is only by the grace of God who is loving toward us and call on His name in trust, in praise and in thanksgiving. Show your love with your life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will keep your relationship with Him honest, that we will not lie when we sing and confess our love to God, but that we will be keenly aware of His great mercy toward us. Pray that God will help you show your love with a life devoted to Him. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 14 – A humble Peter

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’” – John 21:15  Scripture reading: John 21:1-19 Peter once boasted, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Peter dared to brag that he loved Jesus more than everyone else did. So when Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him more than the disciples, Peter appeals to the knowledge of God and says, “Lord, you know.” Jesus knew where the fish were and knew Peter would deny him. There is no sense bragging before God because Jesus knows the heart. Peter confesses, You know that I love you.  Are you ever tempted to brag before God? Do you ever try to make yourself appear to be a better follower of Jesus than the next person? It is inevitable; our actions will have the last word. If we love other things more, or focus more on our desires, it will show. Let us not brag; instead, trust the Lord. He knows our love is not what it should be; our love for Him is nothing to boast about. But Christ also knows when we have a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Peter knew his sin and weakness, but he still loved the Lord Jesus and would serve Him if the Lord would have him. And the Lord will. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. When we recognize our weakness and throw ourselves before God, trusting His strength and mercy, then we have become the very ones the Lord loves to use to further His kingdom and bring glory to His Name.   Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for knowing and examining our hearts. Ask God to forgive our pride and arrogance and help us to offer Him heartfelt and sincere love.  Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 13 – Futile faith?

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:14 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Jesus is alive. And that changes everything for us in this life. It means that anything Jesus ever said is trustworthy and true. This means that everything Jesus did is real and accomplishes everything for us and our salvation. It means the message of the Bible is good. If Jesus is your Lord and Saviour, your sins are truly and completely forgiven and you are given eternal life – to live with the Lord God forever. This good news must lift our hearts every day. Through all of the bad days, stress, tears and sorrow, the knowledge that Jesus died, rose again and ascended into heaven gives us peace and hope. All the sorrows of this life, the losses of this life, are temporary. Imagine you are at war. You are on the battlefield, exhausted, basically out of ammo, and wounded, but you look up and see the enemy base engulfed in flames. Bullets are still flying, but you know that the kingdom of darkness has fallen and the kingdom of light has been established. Well, then you can hang in there. The injuries and wounds don’t hurt so much when you are celebrating victory. Is that your hope? Can you see and believe that our Lord is risen? Do you see what this means for this life and for eternity? Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have hope. May we carry it and show it as we live certain of what we have not seen. Our Lord Jesus lives and reigns in heaven. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God not only sent His Son to bring forgiveness but also raised Him up so we may know that the mission has been accomplished. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

April 8 – Prayer and temptation

“And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’” – Luke 22:40  Scripture reading: Luke 22:31-46  Yesterday we saw the great blessing and comfort in the fact that Jesus prays for His people. Now Jesus commands His disciples to pray for themselves. This is not just offering a quick prayer, but to be praying. We all need to be praying so we can face the temptations and hardships that lie before us. Even Jesus needed to pray. He went off on His own, where in agony, He laid His prayers before the Father. While Jesus pleads for mercy, the disciples fall asleep. I see myself there. Do you ever have it when you know you need to look to the Lord and lay your needs before Him, but you feel even that is too hard? Or does it happen that you know God has given you a task, but you can only focus on your own desires and you forget about what you are called to do? It is ironic how we think prayer is so hard when what Jesus did is infinitely more difficult. Jesus was going to the cross. Jesus would drink the cup of God’s wrath right down to the dregs. Jesus would suffer and die for the sins of many. And Jesus stayed up all night, praying and trusting, and then would go to the cross. Let this be a wakeup call for us. We are often spiritually asleep and vulnerable. We need to be living in prayer, laying our burdens before God in prayer, and looking to the Lord in trust. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will teach you and help you to pray. Turn to Psalm 62 and make that your prayer to God. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

April 7 – Prayer and protection

“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  – Luke 22:32  Scripture reading: Luke 22:31-34, John 17:6-13  Jesus is the High Priest Who had just given the disciples the Passover. Now as High Priest, He prays for them. Jesus prays specifically for Simon Peter, knowing the trial he will face, and He prays for all the disciples as well as all His followers today. And we need this. We saw last time how weak we are; apart from the Lord intervening and praying on our behalf, there is no hope. And it really is amazing that Jesus prays, asking the Father to have mercy on us. Is anyone worthy of God’s care and protection? Is there anyone who has not slandered God when they grumble, who has not insulted God in the way they boast in themselves? No one. Peter will deny Jesus, leaving Jesus without any companions. And yet, Jesus says He will pray for Peter. Jesus’ prayer is a great strength for Peter. By Jesus’ prayer, Peter does not lose faith. Though he trips, he will stand in faith again. Like Peter, we too have Jesus praying on our behalf; when we face temptations, when we have trouble in our home, in our life, with our relationships, Jesus is praying that our faith may not fail. Take courage and look to the Lord to uphold you by His love in the difficult times. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you realize His grace and love. Pray for specific situations where you need the Lord to help and protect you. Thank the Lord for His patient prayer for you. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

April 6 – Through the thresher

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” – Luke 22:31 Scripture reading: Luke 22:31-34, Job 1:6-12 These are words of serious warning from Jesus. As He approaches the cross, Jesus warns one of His closest disciples that Satan has him in his rifle scope. As wheat is picked up tossed in the wind, Satan wants to pick Peter apart, toss him around so he cannot keep himself together. Satan aims for Peter’s ruin. Satan tried this with Job and Satan is still doing this today. Satan’s attacks are not always the same; his tactic may change, but expect it. When you are given a responsibility, when you face a hardship, or when there is something about following God that you do not understand, be ready. Satan’s mission is to get you to deny Jesus and give up the Christian faith. On hearing this, Simon Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and death.” Peter made the mistake of counting on his own strength. Peter did not think his faith would ever fail. We do this when we underestimate the devil and overestimate ourselves. In those moments we need to hear 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall.” If we were swimming and were told there was a shark circling us, we would not turn and put up our fists; instead, we would climb into the boat. There we are safe. Against the enemy, Satan, we need to turn to Jesus. Pray for His help, His strength, that He will give us faith to withstand the attacks of Satan. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God gives you a keen awareness of both your own weakness and frailty and also of God’s strength and power. Ask God to protect you and to preserve you to hold fast to Him in faith all your days.  Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

April 5 – Seeking greatness

“For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” – Luke 22:27 Scripture reading: Luke 19:37-40, Luke 22:23-30 On Palm Sunday Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. Being on a donkey makes a statement. The donkey is not like a Rolls Royce or even a Cadillac. No, it is more like an old Hyundai –a modest mode of transport. But that did not deter the crowds; they saw their king. In Jesus they saw the One Who could lead them to the deliverance of which the Passover spoke. Like Moses to Israel, they thought Jesus would rescue them from Rome, give them Rome’s gold and establish them as a glorious nation. You see, when Jesus rode in, they thought more of themselves than of God and God’s will. And we do the same when we want God’s blessings more than we want God’s will. But Jesus came to serve. And this is what we need. We don’t need more money, more earthly freedoms or land, but we need to be cleansed of our sin. Only Christ can give this cleansing, and He did. Jesus came as a servant and brought salvation by letting Himself be nailed to the cross where He would die a humiliating death. Phil 2:8 says, “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Rejoice and praise God! Christ, who died on the cross, is our greatest treasure! Go to church today and serve and worship your God Who provided a way of reconciliation. Rejoice as you believe the good news! Christ came and lay down His life for you. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help us show our love and thankfulness. Pray for God to help you be humble and faithful in times of trials, and to be quick to serve, considering others more highly than ourselves.  Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

March 31 – The Lord Jesus Christ and God’s goal of creation

“So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide;’ as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’” – Genesis 22:14 Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 3:1 God guarantees Abraham that He will bless the nations through the church when it lives in His presence in the Spirit through faith by being receptive to His voice, open to His provision and available to the leading of the Spirit. This guarantee was not fulfilled in the Old Testament because Abraham’s descendants wanted to be like the nations. Israel failed to be a blessing for the world, but God sent His Son to do what Israel failed to do. With the sacrifice of His life and the sacrifice of His death, the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly reflected the glorious presence of His heavenly Father and lived for the other by being a person where heaven and earth meet. In Him, all the families of the earth are blessed when they are joined to Him by faith because the Holy Spirit enables them to live for the other by becoming people where heaven and earth meet and God’s mission for His glory is worked out in and through them. II Chronicles 3 links the place where Abraham sacrificed a ram instead of Isaac to Mount Zion where later the temple was built. This links the ram that was sacrificed as a substitute for Isaac to the Lord Jesus Christ as our substitute. This gives a deep meaning to the name Abraham gave to this place: the LORD will provide. The ram pointed to Him because in Him God provided the church with the One Who would enable it to succeed in reaching the goal of His creation. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to daily live in His presence by living in Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 30 – God’s guarantees to bless the nations through Abraham and his descendants

“And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” – Genesis 22:13b Scripture reading: Genesis 22:15-19 Because Abraham lived in the Spirit through faith God intervened and called off the sacrifice of Isaac. Because God providentially led a ram that had its horns caught in a thicket to where Abraham was, Abraham sacrifices the ram instead of Isaac. Moreover, God rewards Abraham’s living in the Spirit through faith with the promise He would bless him so that he could be a blessing to the nations around Canaan. He does so by using language He had already used in Genesis 12, 15, and 17 to indicate this. God would bless him, multiply his offspring like the stars of heaven and the sand of the seashore, his offspring would possess the gate of their enemies and in him would all the nations of the earth be blessed. God guarantees His promise with an oath (v. 15). Now oaths always contain not only a blessing, but also a curse. The oath swearer calls a curse down upon himself if he does not fulfill the blessing. The curse can be either verbal or ritual, such as cutting animals in half as had occurred in Genesis 15. Because God’s oath does not contain a verbal curse, there must be a ritual curse. I believe we find this ritual curse in the sacrifice of the ram as a burnt offering. God is saying: “May I be sacrificed like that ram if I do not fulfill my oath of blessing the nations through Abraham’s descendants when they wholeheartedly live in the Spirit through faith and obey my voice.” Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He has guaranteed to bless the world through the church, Abraham’s offspring, when it lives in the Spirit through faith and is obedient to His voice. Ask Him to enable you to live in the Spirit through faith. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 29 – Wholeheartedly living in the Spirit through faith and the goal of God’s creation

“He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” – Genesis 22:2 Scripture reading: Genesis 22:1-14 God wants to use Abraham and Sarah as a second Adam and Eve and deal with the problem that their fall into sin caused and have them live for the other by being people and places where heaven and earth meet that reflect the glorious life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence of God. In order for Abraham and Sarah to be able to do this, they have to live in the Spirit through faith and not in the flesh of the world and the flesh of their sinful hearts. Circumcision as a sign and seal of their membership of God’s covenant community served as a reminder of their identity as well as their calling. In our Scripture reading, God tests Abraham’s wholehearted commitment to be His redemptive representative in this world for the sake of the world by commanding him to take the son he had waited for 25 years to be born and sacrifice him as a burnt offering, much like Canaanites sacrificed their children. Because Abraham did indeed live in the Spirit through faith by being receptive to the voice of his God, open to His provision and available to the Spirit’s leading, he passed God’s test. You see this in his immediate departure from his home, his telling the servants that he and Isaac would return, his belief that God would provide a sacrifice, his raising of the knife to sacrifice his son and in his belief that God would raise Isaac from the dead if he sacrificed him (Hebrews 11:19). Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you where you may need to make changes in your life to be more wholehearted in fulfilling your calling to be God’s redemptive representative in this world by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

March 28 – Baptism as a sign of the goal of God’s creation

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism.” – Colossians 2:11-12a    Scripture reading: Exodus 28:6-21 In the Old Testament, the high priest was the substitute and representative of Israel, symbolized by the stones on his shoulder and the stones in the breast piece of judgment. Wherever he went, Israel went with him and whatever he did, Israel did with him. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament high priest. In whatever He did, He functioned as the substitute and representative of New Testament Israel, the church, His body. Thus, when He died, the members of His body died with Him. Baptism is a sign and seal of our having died and been buried with Christ. Because circumcision in the Old Testament, made with hands, was an identity marker that members of the church had been cut off from the life of the flesh in the world and the flesh in their hearts – the old order of life – and had been placed in the church – the new order of life – Paul calls our having been buried with Christ in baptism the circumcision of Christ, one made without hands. It is a sign and seal that in Christ we have died to the life of the flesh in the world and the flesh that lives in our hearts. Thus, as circumcision was a reminder of what being a member of God’s covenant community entailed, so baptism reminds us of the same. If we are to be a blessing for the world, we need to daily die to the ways of the flesh of the world and the flesh of our hearts. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you where you need to die to the flesh so that you can be a blessing 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....

Daily devotional

March 23 – The blood of the Covenant

“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…” – Matthew 26:28 Scripture reading: Matthew 26:26-29 On Saturday, we saw that God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walked between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. When the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, He picked up on the image of the blood of the animals that were used to cut a covenant (cf. also Exodus 24:8). He told his disciples that when they drink from the cup during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him, this cup with wine symbolizes His blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. This shows us that when God swore an oath that if He did not fulfill His promise of giving Abram and his descendants the land of Canaan which foreshadowed the new heaven and new earth, He would cut Himself in half, He meant what He said. For while God did not need to cut Himself in half in order to fulfill his promise of the possession of the land of Canaan, because of our sin, He did need to cut Himself in half in order to fulfill the promise of what this land foreshadowed: the fullness of the eternal kingdom of God. In the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God cut Himself in half in order to remove the obstacle of sin that hindered us from inheriting the new heaven and new earth. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the blood of the covenant that removed the obstacle of your sin so you can receive your reward of faith and enter the coming kingdom of heaven. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 22 – The land of Canaan and the New Heaven and the New Earth

“For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” – Hebrews 11:10 Scripture reading: Hebrews 11:8-16 God is on a mission for His glory to make all things new in a world where His people and His world will once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. This means that the Christian life is a journey to this glorious life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence of God, also known as the fullness of God’s eternal Sabbath rest. From our Scripture reading, it would seem that Abraham understood this. We are told that he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Moreover, it tells us that he acknowledged that he was a stranger and exile on earth who desired a far better country than the one he had just left, namely, a heavenly country, a city prepared for him by God. This means that the land of Canaan, in addition to being a real land, also functions as a type or foreshadowing of the new heaven and the new earth. And just as God dealt with the problem of uncertainty in Abraham’s life with regard to the possession of the land of Canaan by making a covenant with him that guaranteed His commitment to this promise, so God also deals with any uncertainty we may have that His commitment to His mission for His glory, resulting in a new heaven and a new earth, will be fulfilled with this same covenant. May He be cut in half if He does not fulfill this promise for us. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to hang on loosely to this world and the things of this world as you travel the journey to the new heaven and new earth as a stranger and sojourner on this 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....

Daily devotional

March 21 – God’s first covenant with Abram and the goal of creation

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram...” – Genesis 15:18 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21 I trust you have not forgotten what I wrote about biblical covenants between God and His people. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem in this relationship that causes uncertainty. Against this background of the function of covenants in God’s relationship with His people, it should not surprise us that we once again read about a covenant, for there is a problem in Abram’s relationship with his God that causes uncertainty. God has just promised to give Abram and his descendants the gift of the land of Canaan, but Abram is not sure whether this will indeed happen, for he says to God, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Abram wants God to guarantee His commitment of giving him and his descendants the land of Canaan, possibly still in the light of the fact that he does not have a biological heir and that his wife is barren, even though he had believed that God would give him descendants as countless as the stars in the heavens. So, God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walk between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. Except, in this covenant, only God walks between the bloody carcasses of the animals. In doing so, He is swearing an oath: “May I be cut in half if I do not fulfill my promise of giving you the land of Canaan”. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to the deep significance of His covenant commitment to you (and your children). 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....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Faith and its reward

“And he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.’” – Genesis 15:7 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21 Yesterday, we saw that Abram believed God and God counted this posture of faith to him as righteousness. If we want to do justice to our relationship with God, we need to consider His promises to be trustworthy and entrust ourselves to this promising God. That is the way to live in a right relationship with God. Today, we see that God rewards this posture of faith with the gift of land. In Genesis 15:1, God had said to Abram that his reward would be very great. Today, we read that this reward is the gift of the land of Canaan. The land was a sort of second Garden of Eden where the nations would be drawn into the glorious presence of God and begin to reflect this life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence to one another as well by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. God had promised the land when Abram first arrived in Canaan. He had repeated the promise when Abram and Lot had separated. Now God makes the promise again as a reward for his posture of faith. New this time is that the geographical markers of the land are included as well as the fact that Abram’s descendants would first be sojourners in the land of Egypt before they would possess the land because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. This latter fact shows us God’s patience towards sinners. Not all sin warrants immediate destruction; only the full measure of sin. Suggestions for prayer Since faith in God’s promises and entrusting ourselves to this promising God is the means God uses to receive us into His eternal kingdom, ask your heavenly Father daily to strengthen your faith. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 15 – Called to be a blessing for the world

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.’" – Genesis 12:1 Scripture reading: Genesis 11:27-32 How are you a blessing to those outside the church as an individual and as a Christian congregation, living for the other by being a person and a place where heaven and earth meet? God had also called Noah and his family to be a blessing for the world by living for the other and by subduing the chaos and disorder in the world by increasingly entering into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest and urging others to do the same. But the chaos and disorder were not subdued because the intention of the human heart was still evil. And so the chaos and disorder only got worse. However, because God had promised not to destroy humanity and creation with a flood, He confused their language and dispersed them over the face of the earth. So, what does God do? Does He give up? No, He does not! He cannot give up because He is on a mission for His glory to make all things new in a world where His people and His world will once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. And He had demonstrated His commitment to advance this goal of His creation with a covenant with Noah and a second covenant with him and all of creation. And so, God makes a new beginning. He calls Abram to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by becoming a people and place where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

March 14 – The rainbow as a sign of the goal of God’s Creation

“I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:13 Scripture reading: Genesis 9:12-17  We have seen that in the Old Testament the Sabbath was a sign of the goal of God’s creation. For Israel, the Sabbath was the weekly reminder to enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by being people where heaven and earth meet. It is as well a promise that one day this fullness, where God will be all in all, would descend from heaven on a new earth. For New Testament believers, Sunday is a weekly reminder that they are a new creation in Christ, called to bear witness to this new creation by being people where heaven and earth meet. It is as well, a promise that they will bear witness to the fullness of this new creation when Christ returns. Today, we see that God gives another sign of the goal of His new creation: the rainbow. But signs only function in our life of faith to the extent that we remember them. We need to remember them and allow them to become constructive forces in our consciousness that shape the way we think and behave. However, the interesting thing in our Scripture reading is that God says that when the rainbow is seen in the clouds, He will remember His covenant with Noah and creation. This means that He will act upon His covenant commitment and bring the goal of His creation to fruition in a glorious new heaven and earth where a new humanity and creation will live in His loving presence and participate in His life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to help you cultivate the spiritual discipline of remembering the signs of the goal of His creation. 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....

Daily devotional

March 13 – God’s covenant with Noah and Creation

“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you....” – Genesis 9:9-10a Scripture reading: Genesis 8:20-22; 9:9-11 Covenants between God and His people regulate the relationship He has with them and are often meant to deal with a problem that causes uncertainty in the relationship. We read how God did that with Noah before He came with the waters of the flood. After the flood, God makes a new covenant with Noah and his family as well as with all of creation. This shows us another aspect of biblical covenants between God and His people. A new covenant often updates an earlier covenant to the new situation that it is dealing with. You can see this, for instance, with an engagement covenant and a marriage covenant. The marriage covenant simply regulates and updates the engagement covenant to the new situation of the marriage. The new situation of God’s second covenant with Noah, now also including creation, is the new situation of continuing to live in a world that has once been destroyed by a flood. The problem that causes uncertainty in this new situation is the fact that the human heart was not cleansed with the water of the flood. The intention of man's heart is still evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). But whereas before the flood, humanity’s depravity was the ground for God’s judgment, now this depravity becomes the ground for God’s mercy. God promises to never destroy the earth with a flood again. In doing so, He guarantees His commitment to the goal of His creation. He seals this commitment and guarantees it by establishing His covenant with Noah and creation. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that His commitment to a glorious new heaven and new earth is firm and sure. 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....

Daily devotional

March 12 – The recreation of Creation

“And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” – Genesis 8:1b  Scripture reading: Genesis 8:1-9:7 After 150 days, God made a wind blow over the earth so that the waters began to recede. The Hebrew word for ‘wind’ is the same word that is used for ‘Spirit’. This reminds us of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters in Genesis one. This is an indication that as God began with His work of creation in Genesis one, so now He will begin with His work of recreation in Genesis eight. This is confirmed when we compare God’s work of recreation with His work of creation described in Genesis one. After God made a wind blow over the earth so that the waters began to recede, He had the living creatures in the ark leave it and begin to repopulate the earth, reminding us of the way God populated the sky and the earth with living creatures during days five and six of creation. In Genesis eight, we read about God re-establishing the days and seasons, reminding us of day four of creation when He put the light-bearers in the sky to mark the seasons, days and years. In Genesis nine we read about Noah and his sons being blessed and commanded to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and have dominion over it. In Genesis one we read about this same command being given to Adam and Eve. In Genesis nine we read about God providing food for Noah and his family. In Genesis one He did the same for Adam and Eve. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the work of His Spirit in the renewal of creation (Ps. 104:30). Thank Him especially for the spiritual renewal that His Spirit works in 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....

Daily devotional

March 7 – Finding rest in the Lord Jesus Christ

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:7-19; 4:11  Wednesday, we noticed that God commanded Adam and Eve to enter the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by extending the borders of the Garden of Eden over the whole earth through having an extended family that would spread the glorious presence of God. Moreover, they were to do this by subduing the earth and having dominion over it. Yesterday, we noticed that Adam and Eve failed in fulfilling this task through their lack of obedience. What happened to Adam and Eve, happened time and again throughout history. For instance, the people of Israel were also called to be people and places where heaven and earth meet, reflecting God’s glorious presence to one another and the nations around them. However, they also failed to fulfill their task. Accordingly, many of the desert generation did not enter into the rest of the Promised Land and those who did enter, did not enter into the fullness of God’s promised rest that this land foreshadowed. The Hebrew Christians were running the risk of making the same mistake. Accordingly, they are urged to strive to enter into the fullness of this rest. They and we do this by coming to Jesus and being yoked or joined to Him through faith. When we do, He will not only reproduce His own Sabbath rest in our lives, enabling us to be people where heaven and earth meet, but He also safely leads us to the fullness of this Sabbath rest on the new earth. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to daily enable you to go to the Lord Jesus Christ through faith and experience the rest He gives. 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....

Daily devotional

March 6 – The Sunday as a sign of the goal of God’s creation

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17  Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-11 Even though God had blessed Adam and Eve for their task of extending the glorious presence of God over the whole earth, Adam and Eve failed in fulfilling this task. As a result, the chaos and disorder that God had subdued with His six days of creation, slowly but surely, began to return in God’s good and harmonious creation. We know this chaos as sin, death and the devil. In order for God to fulfill the goal of His creation, He has to deal with this threefold problem of sin, death and the devil. He does so by sending into this broken world, His Son, Who paid the penalty of sin, broke the power of sin, cleansed the pollution of sin, destroyed the partition caused by sin, and defeated death and the devil. When the Lord Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, He demonstrated that He had successfully dealt with the problem of sin, death and the devil by ushering in the new creation that had always been the goal of God’s first creation. When we are united to Christ through faith, we experience the first fruits of this glorious new creation through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Sunday, the first day of the week, is a weekly sign or reminder of our being a new creation in Christ and a promise that one day we will enter into the fullness of the rest of this new creation.  Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you in how you can bear witness to those around you that you are a new creation 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....

Daily devotional

March 5 – The Sabbath day as a sign of the goal of God’s Creation

“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” – Exodus 31:17   Scripture reading: Exodus 31:12-17 Before God commanded Adam and Eve to extend the glorious presence of God over the whole earth, God blessed them for this task. When God blesses people for a certain task, this blessing is meant to make them fruitful for their task. After God had created for six days, He rested on the seventh day. In addition, He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. If in Genesis 1, blessing people for their task means making them fruitful in fulfilling their task, then blessing a day in Genesis 2, would mean making this day fruitful for the fulfilling of its task. Thus, it should not surprise us that God made the seventh day holy, i.e. He set it apart and made it a special day for the fulfillment of the purpose for which He had blessed it. From what we have seen so far, we can conclude that right from the beginning the seventh day was a reminder for Adam and Eve and their posterity of the goal of creation: to increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by extending the glorious presence of God throughout the whole earth through being people where heaven and earth meet. Accordingly, it should not surprise us that when God enters into a covenant with Israel, the seventh day officially becomes a sign of this goal of creation; a weekly reminder to enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest as well as a promise that one day this fullness will descend from heaven on a new earth. Suggestions for prayer Read the second part of Answer 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism and pray this back to your heavenly Father. 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....

Daily devotional

March 4 – Entering God’s rest

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:26-28  Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26-28  So far we have seen that God created for His glory. This not only means that human beings and creation were to praise God, but also that they would reflect the life-giving, light-giving and loving presence of God. We further saw that there is a relationship between God creating for His glory and God resting on the seventh day. Because the seventh day was meant to last forever, this day is the goal of God’s creation. In other words, having humanity and creation praise God and reflect His glorious presence involves increasingly entering into the fullness of God’s rest, enjoying God’s beautiful and harmonious creation, and celebrating the rest and peace that God’s creation radiates. Genesis one shows us what this would look like for Adam and Eve. God made them in His image, i.e. as His representatives who would reflect and embody His presence as they cultivated and maintained the Garden of Eden. Moreover, God blessed them, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. This meant that Adam and Eve were to extend the borders of the Garden of Eden over the whole earth by having children and grandchildren and a whole extended family that would spread the glorious presence of God. In doing so, humanity and creation would increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest, reaching God’s goal of creation through their faithful living in God’s loving presence and reflecting this loving presence through their obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to spread the life of heaven by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

February 28 – Sin and shin (2): Shalom!

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” – Psalm 119:165 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:161-168 There isn’t just one well-known word in this stanza (seven). There are two! The other is one of the most famous words of all in Hebrew – a word that has basically become an English word too. This is the word shalom. Peace. At this point in his acrostic song about God’s law, how could the psalmist not come up with this household word? To love the law of God and to obey His commandments brings great peace in our lives. Understand this is not an outward peace or a prosperity gospel, even though it is true that obedience to God’s law in all of life does lead to much blessing, security and peace amongst family, friends and neighbors. Who doesn’t enjoy being in the presence of a person who is content, peaceful, certain, confident, positive and happy? People who love God and love His law are generally people like that. But no, shalom is most of all an inner peace, an inner confidence and contentment, in all circumstances, including times of stress, suffering, sickness and persecution. This same peace filled the followers of Jesus Christ who were facing the enemy in the Roman amphitheater about to die by wild animals, or who were being burned at the stake for defending the faith, or who were losing their property because of their faith. Nothing could make them stumble. Nothing could rob them of their peace. Jesus Christ is our Peace. He, Himself, is the pioneer of peaceful faith and obedience. He willingly subjected Himself to the terror of the cross in order to obey perfectly His heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your heavenly Father will give you this peace in your heart. Pray for the true and living faith which means nothing can rob you of that peace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 27 – Sin and shin (1): Perfection

“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” – Psalm 119:164 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:161-168 One of the very well-known and well-used words of the Bible is found in this section. It is the number “seven” (shavveh). It’s a number that means completion, fullness or totality. It’s also a word that indicates rest, for the word for rest (sabbath) is also derived from the number seven in Hebrew. The psalmist’s devotion to God, his love for the law and his zeal to obey his covenant God, is cloaked in the superlative. His service to God is not just good, it’s not only better, but it’s the best he can give. Seven times a day he praises God for His law. Seven times is not to be taken literally, so that we set aside certain times of the day which we rigidly and religiously follow (and then, not even seven, but five, or three, or less!) Rather, it indicates that the psalmist’s life is filled with and bound up in praise to his heavenly Father. Since his day is filled with serving God and praising Him, the psalmist experiences true rest. By the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in him, he rests from his evil works and begins in this life the eternal Sabbath. This is the complete life for the believer. This is the restful life: to fill life with praise to God and to be busy obey His law and willingly serving in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you live a full life of service and praise to Him, thereby experiencing true and complete rest. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 26 – Resh: Look, consider, and act

“Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!” – Psalm 119:153, 154 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:153-160 The Psalmist requests God to look upon him and to see his affliction. He pleads with the LORD to observe his desire to live according to God’s will as well as to obey His law. He asks his heavenly Father to consider how he stands up for His holy Name. There is more to such asking. We do not only ask God to look on us and see what we are doing, to see what is transpiring in our lives. We also ask God to look because our desire, our goal, is that God will also respond and act. “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to Your promise!” (154). God will see that we are afflicted, God will observe that we trust in Him, God will take note of our faith and desire to live for Him and hear us! He will respond! God having looked upon mankind has resulted in our redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. God saw that man had sinned. God saw the effects of that fall upon His chosen ones. Therefore, God sent a Saviour to us. How comforting it is to know that God looks upon us in love and compassion! (156). Will you, in turn, look to God for His help and care? When you do, be assured, He will look upon you according to His grace and steadfast love and provide you with what you need! Suggestions for prayer Pray to God that He looks upon you in all your circumstances and considers your needs and acts upon them. Just as He has acted in sending His Son, ask Him also to act today by fill you with His Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 25 – Qoph: Reliance

“Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.” – Psalm 119:149 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:145-152 With his enemies attacking, the psalmist cries out to God to answer him (145), to save him (146) and to grant him help (148). In return for deliverance, he promises obedience to God’s law. He doesn’t believe God will deliver him because of what he will do. Rather, he describes what has already been central in his life – a devotion to God, a love for His law and a desire to serve. In thankful covenant response, he has been continually meditating on God’s Word. Every day, he is deep in God’s Word well before dawn: “I rise before the dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (148,149). He is and always will be up and at it before the sun rises. Thus, the psalmist expresses confidence that the LORD will answer his cries willingly. First, he relies on God’s love and justice. “Hear my voice, according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life” (149). According to His mercy and having sworn an oath by Himself, because there is nothing greater by which to swear, God will keep His word. Second, the psalmist relies on God’s nearness (150,151). Even when deep in enemy territory, even when the enemy taunts, “Where is your God, now?”, the psalmist depends on the truth that God is always near. Third, he relies on the LORD’s faithfulness (152). Enemies, powers, civilizations, come and go, rise and fall. But God is as dependable as the sun rising every morning. God’s covenant promises are absolutely reliable. Suggestions for prayer Call upon the Lord, on the basis of His promises, for the sake of Jesus Christ, to help you in your needs. Plead on His faithfulness and nearness, to grant you forgiveness of your sins and to guide you by the Holy Spirit in the renewal of your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 20 – Samekh (2): Justice

“You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies.” – Psalm 119:118-119  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:113-120 God is not only merciful; He is also just. He is also holy and righteous. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30,31). Sin against God and His law, therefore, provokes God’s holy and righteous wrath. It is because of His wrath against sin that God promised and sent a Saviour. He sent His only Son to deal with His righteous wrath against sin, by placing it on Jesus in our place. Therefore, to live in God’s sight while not depending on His mercy is to invoke and invite His wrath. God “will spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain” (118). “All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross” (119). All evildoers will “depart” (115) from God and His holiness and His holy people. There is no place for disobedience in God’s sight. This is also true for the hypocrite, the actor, the play-Christian. In line with Psalm 139, the psalmist expresses his hatred for those whom God also hates. “I hate the double-minded” (113). God is holy. The appropriate response to God’s majesty and holiness is holy fear. “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments” (120). When that holy fear of God is combined with respectful obedience and living thankfulness, there you have a living Christian. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God gives you a balanced understanding of His mercy and wrath, so that you live each day in humble thankfulness, holy fear and respectful obedience. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 19 – Samekh (1): Mercy

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word...Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!” – Psalm 119:114, 117 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:113-120 From this stanza is it clear that there are two sides to God. On the one hand, He is just. “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes…All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross” (118,119). On the other hand, He is merciful, “You are my hiding place and my shield” (114). It’s also clear on which side of God the psalmist wants to be – the side of His mercy! That God shows mercy means He is our hiding place and shield. He is our strong shelter in the storms of life. He protects us from the attacks of the evil one. In this way, the law reveals God’s mercy. By it, we are guarded from evil. By it, we may live (116). God will hold us up and make us safe (117). The picture is that of a loving Father Who holds us in His arms. It’s a picture of trusting children who turn to the Lord for comfort, encouragement and safety. This is wonderful covenantal language. God’s Word promises us life and assures us of His care. God is loving, gracious, and merciful. God made a promise to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when they had fallen into sin and were in a state of sin and corruption. He promised a seed, a child, one who will be born of a woman, in order to save mankind from its state of fallenness. He promised and He delivered, sending His One and Only Son to be our Saviour. Don’t we love that side of God? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we always know and are assured that we are children of God through Christ. Let us through faith turn to Him and find help, grace and mercy in our time of need. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve

“I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” – Psalm 119:112  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:105-112 The psalmist is “severely afflicted…the wicked have laid a snare for ” (107,110). Nevertheless, he is resolved to overcome such challenges or afflictions and serve his God. How will he outface such challenges? By learning to live according to the will of God and involving his whole being in that pursuit. He expresses a deep confidence in the power of God’s Word, and therefore he can go forward with resolve. So, he confirms his oath to keep God’s Word (106). He acknowledges his devotion by referencing his worship and sacrifices (108). He highlights his determination, “I do not forget your law…I do not stray from your precepts…your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (109-111). He has his heart set on obedience, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end” (112). The psalmist shows that his resolve to serve God involves his whole being: he offers his feet (105), his mouth (106,108), his hand (109) and his heart (111,112). He is fully and wholly committed to serving his God. It’s a picture of what God’s true Servant will do perfectly and faithfully to the end, for us, in our place. Jesus Christ came down to be our righteousness before God. Therefore, He had His eyes resolutely set on Jerusalem, for there He would go to deliver us from our sins by dying on the accursed cross. May we in response to God’s faithfulness and Christ’s righteousness, be resolved to live thankfully with our whole lives to God’s glory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will give you a full resolve and a whole commitment to live for Him. Pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 17 – Nun (1): A lamp for my feet

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105  Scripture reading: Psalm 19 Today we live in an age of light. We enjoy the benefit of light in so many ways. Lights indicate our laptops are on and our phones are charging. Lights keep our homes safe from intruders and street lamps keep our roads safer. By means of our car’s headlights, our hand-held flashlights, our headlamps, etc., the ways in front of us are illuminated. This section of the psalmist’s prayer continues where the previous stanza left off. The psalmist continues to expound the blessing and benefit of the law, thus praising God and testifying of His love and faithfulness. The law is a lamp for his feet. It sheds light as he walks along the paths of life. The psalmist praises God for the many ways the law enlightens his life. The picture here is of an Israelite traveler walking along a darkened path. Walking along paths was treacherous at the best of times, even in daytime. Darkness only increased the dangers. The oil lamp the traveler holds keeps him from stumbling over rocks and roots, or into holes, or on snakes. It keeps him from slipping and falling or wandering off the path and becoming lost. So, the law of God directs the believer’s “feet” and keeps him from every evil “way”. Ultimately, the law reveals and points us to Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth, the life and the light Himself. Look to Christ, follow Christ, allow Christ to illumine your way. Let the gospel of Christ illumine your darkened community. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will enlighten your mind and heart, which are naturally darkened by sin. Ask that Jesus Christ will be revealed to you, so that you live and walk in His light. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 12 – Teth: God is good

“You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word…You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:65, 68 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:65-72 God is good, no matter what happens. God turns everything to my benefit. Working with the letter “teth” the psalmist has latched on to words in Hebrew like well, good, and better. These occur frequently in this section and emphasize that God is good and that His Word and law are good too. The key is to trust and obey the Lord in every circumstance. For example, it was affliction that helped the psalmist come into a better relationship with God. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (67). “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (71). Trouble and hardship have driven the believer to turn to God’s Word and promises and therefore trust in God even more! Ultimately, God’s revealed His goodness by handing over His only Son to the affliction that takes away our sins. Therefore, our response to negative events should be calm and peace. We learn to make good judgments and expound good knowledge. We open God’s Word daily and consider His will in every circumstance and seek to live by it. We rejoice always! “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (72). About God’s commandments David said, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10). We confess, “Father, You have dealt well with me. It is well with my soul.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God uses every circumstance in your life for good. Ask Him to open your eyes, so that you also see God’s goodness in your afflictions. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 11 – Heth: Permanence

“The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words…The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:57,64  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:57-64 Two great Old Testament words which begin with the Hebrew letter heth have the poet’s attention in this stanza. They are the words “portion” (57) and “steadfast love” (64). They set the theme here: the believer’s deep and secure relationship with the Lord. Portion describes the inheritance God gave to His people upon entering the promised land. The Israelites didn’t really own their land; it was apportioned to them by God, Who remained the owner, the Israelites serving as tenants. This was underlined when God didn’t give any land to the Levites. God was their share (Num 18:20). Today, in Christ, God graciously gives us all things (Rom 8:32). God is our portion. God is all we really want. It is God’s steadfast (unchangeable) love that brings about such a relationship and maintains it. A third word that begins with the letter heth, having a strategic place, is “statutes” (64). It’s one of the eight words for the law used regularly throughout this Psalm. Having this word for law at the end of the stanza, because of its first letter, is appropriate. However, it is equally appropriate to use this word in connection with our response to God’s grace and steadfast love. “The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes.” Also translated “decrees,” God’s law is permanent, as if carved in stone. According to God’s faithfulness, we are engraved into the palm of God’s hands and His Word is given to us as an everlasting witness. Therefore, in thankfulness, let us commit our lives to God and serve Him. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that we have a God Whose Word is steadfast. Pray that you experience in your life how your relationship with God through faith in secure and permanent. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 10 – Zayin: Living and active comfort

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” – Psalm 119:50  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:49-56 “Remember” (Hebrew zakar) is the first word the psalmist uses in three of the next eight verses. In verse 49, the Psalmist asks God to remember His Word and promise. In verses 52 and 55, the Psalmist, in turn, promises to remember God. In Scripture, remembering is less a matter of memory than it is of action. The believer asks God to act in accordance with His prior commitment and promises, and then dedicates himself to knowing and applying God’s demands for his life. That the Lord remembers His covenant promises, forms the basis for the psalmist’s hope. It gives him true comfort (50,52). The greatest promise is that God will no more remember His wrath against my sin, because He poured it out on His only Son. Jesus Christ paid the full penalty, so that God looks on us with love and mercy. The response is that we remember God. “When I think of (or, remember) your laws” (52), and “I remember your name…” (55). Like God, this is not just a matter of recalling to memory certain things about ourselves, or about God. When we remember God, then we are recalling our own confession as well as our own commitment to serve Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are acting on those thoughts! Reflecting on the gospel, we are filled with hope and comfort. God in His love remembers us, and we, in turn, commit ourselves to remembering God and His will for our lives. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God remembers His promise to you that He shows His love and grants His mercy. Ask God to help you remember God and His will for your lives. In this way, you will be comforted and be active in God’s kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 9 – Waw: Walking and talking

“And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find delight in your commandments, which I love.” – Psalm 119:45-47 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:41-48 In English, especially in writing and prose, we are not supposed to start a sentence with the word “and.” That rule does not apply in Hebrew, which is evident in this stanza. Every verse in this stanza begins with a special Hebrew prefix that means “and” or “for.” The effect is that the psalmist conveys excitement, listing off way after way how he wants to live obediently for God. He is so thankful, so alive and so bursting with desire to live his whole life for God. He is responding to God’s grace and covenant promises with a child-like faith. There is a close connection between what we believe and what we do and say. What is in the heart is also what comes out of the mouth and is clear from our actions. Love for and meditation on God’s law translates into obedience to and communication of God’s will. As we are filled with the truth of the gospel in Jesus Christ, we should be bubbling over with excitement to live for God and to tell of His wonderful goodness. At one time the Lord Jesus asked: can a good tree bear bad fruit? Can a good well bring forth brackish? The answer is, no! Love for God and our neighbor means walking the talk and talking the walk. Heart, hands, feet, voice, all in tune with the melody of God’s law! As you attend church today and hear the gospel, may you be filled with hope and eagerness to similarly devote your life to God again! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Father places on your heart the earnest desire to communicate His love, His grace and His covenant demands. Pray that God will give you the words to speak when the opportunity or requirement arises. Pray for those who are persecuted for their faith, that they will witness to those in authority. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 4 – Aleph (4): I will praise you

“I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!” – Psalm 119:7, 8 Scripture reading: Psalm 103 The Psalmist commits to praising God through word and deed. The idea here is to throw the hand out or point out with the hand. He will throw himself completely into learning and living God’s commandments. He will praise God with his whole body! His thanksgiving and praise will be in body and soul. This is the response of the true believer who understands God’s blessings, and yes, also the blessing of the law. The meaning is this: as God blesses us, we, in turn, bless Him! Do you see here the “back and forth” of covenant blessing going on? God blesses us with His love, His salvation and His indwelling Spirit. In turn, we through faith respond with thanksgiving, holiness and obedience. We praise God (bless God) with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are reminded of the psalmist’s conscious desire in Psalm 103:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” Today, let’s remember that God has forgiven us all our sins and granted us newness of life through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s not forget all His benefits. Let’s call to mind that His steadfast love “is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments” (Psalm 103:17,18). As He has blessed us in this way, let’s also bless His holy name! Today, in all we do, let’s throw ourselves completely into praising God! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you live responsibly, that is, responsively. Pray that your whole life is an act of covenant worship and praise to God. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 3 – Aleph (3): Blessed

“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.” – Psalm 119:2,3 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:1-6 Every verse in stanza 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is aleph. It basically corresponds to the first letter of the English alphabet. Even the very little children, who don’t know their alphabet yet, already know this first letter. What most people don’t know, however, is that the Hebrew word translated in our English text blessed begins with that first letter. That’s the very first thing we should consider and understand about Psalm 119. As we begin going through this great Psalm, let us realize that the law is foremost about blessing and especially about our covenant God blessing us! The word means “happy” or “fortunate.” When we, out of true faith, seek to live our lives according to God’s law, when we focus on making our ways blameless, keeping the Lord’s testimonies, seeking Him with our whole heart, aspiring to do no wrong, walking in His ways, there is abundant happiness! Then God will look upon us favorably! Let us remember that as we walk in the Lord’s ways, we are doing so out of thankfulness. We are following our Lord Jesus Christ, Who walked before us and is the pioneer of our salvation. Because Jesus was faithful and obedient to His heavenly Father, even obedient unto death on a cross, He has brought true happiness and blessing back into the world. As we begin our work week, let’s look to Jesus, thankfully follow in His footsteps, and experience real spiritual blessing. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the preaching yesterday, and your devotions today and going forward, will lead and direct you to thankfully walk in the Lord’s ways, so that you are truly blessed and happy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 2 – Aleph (2): Delighting in Torah

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” – Psalm 119:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 1 Oh, blessed day which God has given to us! On Sunday we may rest our bodies from our daily labors and rest our minds from our regular concerns. We can go to church and rest in the love and faithfulness of our heavenly Father. Our covenant God greets and welcomes us into His fellowship. He also speaks to us with His law. Listening intently, we reflect on the past week and realize we have fallen short again and again. It’s not pleasant to experience this purpose of the law; however, it is necessary and good to be reminded that we are sinners, unworthy to be in God’s presence and in need of salvation. But, that’s not the end of the law! The law also directs us to our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who has fulfilled the law in our place. God graciously sent Him to be our obedience and righteousness! Further, in faith and repentance, we receive the forgiveness of our sins and renewal of Christ’s Spirit. In blessed assurance, we are filled with thanksgiving. We are motivated by Christ’s Spirit to renewed living! It is a joy and delight to live according to the law of God in all good works. Yes, indeed, oh blessed day! The Torah is held up as the source of blessing. That blessing from God is the desire of this psalmist’s prayer and the reason for his delight in God and His law. Let us all on this day of rest delight in and dedicate ourselves to God’s law. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and all your brothers and sisters in the Lord will joyfully go to church today and delight in God’s law. Pray for the minister who brings to you God’s revelation, His gospel, His Word and law, and His will for your lives. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of February – Aleph (1): Torah

Psalm 119 is special in several ways. It is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses. How often we like to joke about its length! All joking aside, we readily admit this chapter in the book of Psalms is a treasure trove in itself. It is a song in honor and praise of God’s Word, the law. Psalm 119 is also an acrostic. That means each section or stanza in this psalm starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Since there are 22 letters, there are 22 stanzas, each containing eight verses. Even more amazing, each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with that same letter! Psalm 119 is an alphabet of prayers and praise about God’s Word. It is made clear in our English translation when each section is headed by the next Hebrew letter spelled out: Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, etc. Believe it or not, the purpose for this acrostic was to aid memorization! Memorizing, in turn, allows a person to meditate on God’s Word. As there are 29 days in February this year, we hope to cover each section day by day, dividing some up to bring us to the total of 29 devotions. My prayer is that through this month we, as God’s covenant children, will all the more come to appreciate, value and love the wonderful truths of God’s law for our lives. ***** “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” – Psalm 119:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 19 Psalm 119 is about the Torah, which means “teaching” or “directing”. In verse 1 it is “the law.” The Bible is not merely given for our knowledge and interest, but also for our instruction and obedience. James 1:25 says, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” In the remaining 175 verses (except for five) we find the term torah or one of seven synonyms. In almost every stanza, each having eight verses, these eight different words for law are found. The acrostic form (see introduction) and the use of these eight torah words throughout the Psalm form the framework for an elaborate prayer. The chief aim of the psalmist is to ask God to fill his heart with a love for His law, to fill his mind with the truth of its instruction and to help him so he delightfully obeys it to the glory of God his Saviour. One tradition states that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet. If true, that was very clever of Dad! For then father David could also teach his son the alphabet of spiritual life! His son could learn the abc’s of daily prayer too, living for, and obedience of his heavenly Father. His son could come to know the God Who saves and delivers His people from the slavery of sin so that they may freely live for Him! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to fill your heart with a love for His law, to fill your mind with the truth of its instruction and to help you so that you delightfully obey God Who has saved you from your sins. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

January 27 – Proverbs on mockers

“A proud and haughty man —"Scoffer" is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.” – Proverbs 21:24 Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:6-9 If you believe in abstinence until marriage, or you take your children out of public schools, or you believe in the biblical grounds for divorce, you are seen, at the very least, as a prude, if not weird. Movie stars, politicians and judges loudly proclaim this. Christians are mocked and viewed as hindrances to progress. This is not abnormal. Christians have often been seen this way in history. What happens to mockers? Proverbs 19:29 tells us “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.” How are you to react when you are mocked? Don’t take mocking personally. It is God whom they are mocking. Avoid the scoffer. Proverbs 22:10 says: “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease.” Chase him away because he is not interested in learning. Proverbs 15:12 adds: “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise.” As tough as it may be to do, leave him. Go far away. Proverbs 9:7-8 instructs: "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.” What makes you able to react this way? Your time belongs to the Lord (Psalm 90) and He wants you to use your time wisely. If an activity will not lead to the salvation or sanctification of the soul, it is not worthwhile. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will not take mocking of your faith personally and that you will persist in faithful obedience to the Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 26 – Proverbs on honesty

“Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and dishonest scales are not good.” – Proverbs 20:23 Scripture reading: Proverbs 20:5-10 It is not uncommon to buy something that did not live up to expectations. Maybe it was not well-made. Maybe the knife did not cut the tomato like it did on television. Maybe that non-stick coating on that frying pan was not really as strong as advertised. People aren’t always honest. While that is bad, you can expect that from people who don’t feel they have to give an account to God. Solomon knew the blessing and necessity of honesty for an orderly society – “Honest weights and scales are the LORD’S; all the weights in the bag are His work” (Prov. 16:11) – which ultimately was necessary for the spread of God’s kingdom. In fact, he knew that honesty was necessary because it reflected God. Solomon knew of the danger of dishonesty. As Proverbs 11:1 teaches “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” He describes God as hating dishonesty. And when God hates something, you can expect His judgment on it. Proverbs 20:17 explains “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” That sure is not a pretty picture. And surely no one would trust a dishonest man. Proverbs 25:19 teaches us: “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.” Don’t be a bad tooth. Be honest. God is your reward. You are rich through Jesus Christ. Why rob for trinkets when you have gold? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be satisfied with your possessions and position and that you will be known as a truthful man and bring honor to Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 25 – Proverbs on the duty of the mothers

“My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” – Proverbs 6:20 Scripture reading: Proverbs 31:21-28 Many people think mothers were given by God to make sandwiches, wash our shirts and put on Band-Aids. Solomon advised us mothers are much more. What are the duties of mothers? Giving birth is one of the smaller duties of a mother. A mother cares for, teaches and disciplines her children from birth to adulthood. It doesn’t matter if it is snowing, she will take them to the doctor. It doesn’t matter if she is tired, she will stay up with them when they are sick. It doesn’t matter if she has work to do, she will work to mend their broken hearts. It doesn’t matter if she is busy, she will take time to reinforce the truth of God’s Word. She is a cook, a wiper, a mender, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a caterer, a comforter and personal shopper. She will do these things because she wants her children to mature and continue the work of establishing Christ’s kingdom. What are the results of good mothering? Children won’t forget her birthday! But that is one of the small results of a mother’s work. Children will become independent (and leave) and be godly. They will know how to work. Proverbs 23:25 says: “Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.” What are the consequences of bad mothering? Children will remain dependent and ungodly. As we read in Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will see how important a mother’s duties are and that you will always remember to pray for your mother. As a mother, ask God to enable you to fulfill these great duties. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 24 – Proverbs on justice

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” – Proverbs 21:3 Scripture reading: Proverbs 24:23-26  Having grown up in a corrupt third world country, I know justice is often determined by how much money you have and the ones you know. But that is not what God intended. Solomon, the wisest king to have ever lived, knew the necessity of justice and he knew how to do it well. Everyone knows how he displayed his wisdom when he pretended to order the cutting of the baby in two to handle two disputing mothers. Justice must always be based on God’s law and must be fair. That means there must be no partiality to the rich or to the poor (Proverbs 18:5). Justice takes time and investigation. It is not determined by the first to give testimony. As Proverbs 18:17 says: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Those who are oppressed should not be denied justice (Proverbs 22:22-23). This includes the abused widows, orphans and foreigners. So speak up for the oppressed (including babies sentenced to die by abortions). Cry out for justice for those who are persecuted for their faith. Why would you do this? Do this because Jesus took God’s justice for you and you want to advocate for Him. Do this because working for justice will cause men and women to praise God. Yes, only those who know Jesus can do this. As Proverbs 28:5 tells us, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand all.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn of injustice and fight to remove it in the home, church, and nation, and that you will thank the Lord for taking God’s justice for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 19 – Proverbs on dealing with fools

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7  Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:7-9 Is it reasonable to call someone a fool who carelessly drives into your lane and causes an accident? Maybe! But biblically speaking, the greatest fool is the one who does not believe in God or one who rejects God. The fool has contempt for true knowledge and wisdom. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9). The fool loves his own ideas more than anyone else’s (Proverbs 14:16). In Prov. 17:16 Solomon said the fool has no heart for wisdom (Wisdom is a picture of Jesus). Proverbs 28:26 tells us “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool…” A foolish son is one who rejects his father’s instruction. And Proverbs 15:5 teaches: “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” A fool loves his own opinion (Proverbs 10:10). The fool brings trouble on his own head. “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools” (Proverbs 19:29). The fool even brings eternal judgment on himself (Proverbs 1:32). And he brings destruction on others who follow him (Proverbs 13:20). Fools also bring grief to their parents (Proverbs 17:25). You respond to fools by avoiding close relations with them. They will lead you astray. Proverbs 17:12 warns: “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.” You must call fools to faith and repentance and tell them how to get them (Proverbs 8:5-6). Fools need faith! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn to recognize and deal with foolish people in a way that honors the Lord and pray that your children will not be foolish, but fear God instead. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 18 – Proverbs on women

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30  Scripture reading: Proverbs 31:10-23 Men are incomplete without women. God said so. He is perfectly wise. Women show the wisdom of our heavenly Father. A woman perfectly fits the needs that man has and a man perfectly fits the needs of a woman. Praise God for that! But when that relationship is corrupted, as Solomon found out, there is much hardship in the family, church and state. How can this happen? If a woman insists on independence, which is taking a rival position to the place where God put her, the family breaks down. If a woman insists on leadership (or control of) over a man, which is taking a rival position to the place where God put her, anarchy sets in. As the Chinese saying goes, “You can’t have two tigers in one mountain.” One will likely kill the other. A woman’s duty is to submit to her husband and be a helper to him, even advising him. (Advising is helping!) Proverbs 31 outlines some of those duties. A woman must, therefore, be humble so she can serve her husband, even if he is not always as loving as he is called to be. She serves because of Christ, not because of her husband. This is the kind of woman a man should want as a wife. She is good for him and she is good for the kingdom of the Lord. Fathers, train your daughter to be this virtuous woman. As Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will help you as a woman to be submissive and that God will help you as a man to love your wife so much that it would be easy for her to submit to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 17 – Proverbs on work

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” – Proverbs 22:29  Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:1-4 The generation after WWII was known for overworking as they tried to rebuild western society. Because of overworking, their lives became unbalanced. Wives, children, church and society suffered in other ways, even while economic success rose. Many of the present generation have moved in the other direction – to laziness. Some now are advocating for a three-and-a-half-day work week, with some companies in Europe already having a four-day work week. The lazy often then demand that others supply their needs. An example is Ontario, which recently tried a program to give “guaranteed income” whether one worked or not. But the lazy one has no purpose in life and becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. Consider some warnings from Solomon who worked too much and ignored his own soul and his children. First, you are commanded to work, work hard enough that you have enough for yourself and extra to share with the poor. But don’t work so much so that you don’t have time for your wife, children, church and society. Second, guard your hearts against laziness. You are not entitled to other people’s labors. Both overworking and laziness are dangerous to the individual, the family, church and state. To be balanced in life, let Christ govern your entire life. Work hard and honestly. As Proverbs 20:13 teaches us: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” Then share with others. And don’t be lazy. Remember, “Six days you shall labor.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will get and keep a good job and that you will share what God has given to you. Also that you will teach by words and example the blessings of good work and the dangers of overwork. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 16 – Proverbs on wicked people

“The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will come through trouble.” – Proverbs 12:13 Scripture reading: Proverbs 6:16-19 There are extremely wicked people around you. These wicked people are sinister and savage. They don’t care what they do; they abuse their bodies and live however they want. They cheer each other on in their sin. An example of this is the government of Canada which rewarded Dr. Morgentaler, who aborted thousands of babies, with national honors. Consider two things Solomon taught regarding wicked people. First, don’t be close to them as they will pull your heart away from God. Don’t marry them. (Wicked women led Solomon away from worshipping God.) They don’t really care about you even if they pretend to. They will hurt anyone who gets in their way and they might use you as a stepping stone to get what they want. Further, if you are close to them you will start acting like they act. They will hinder you from progressing in your Christian walk (Proverbs 28:28). Keep your children away from them. Second, know the real danger in which wicked people are. They have rejected God’s authority and care nothing about God’s law. Proverbs 3:33 tells us, “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked…” With no faith and obedience, the wicked are heading to the tortures of hell. Knowing the danger they are in, don’t close your eyes. Get the Gospel to them. Yes, being very close to them will hurt your sanctification, but you have to be close enough to share the Gospel they need for their salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will guard yourself from being close to wicked people, but be close enough to share the Gospel with them to save them from hell. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 11 – Proverbs on love

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” – Proverbs 10:12 Scripture reading: Proverbs 17:9-14 Love is not the excited feeling you sometimes get around a girlfriend or wife. That may be a response to love, but it isn’t love. Solomon described love quite differently. Love is not a feeling. Love is an act. Love is shown and seen. You are commanded to love all men, but your love must be stronger for those who are closer to you. So love your wife more than you love your neighbor. Never allow your children to doubt your love. Love them by exercising discipline, as we read in Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Love will make you confront sin in the lives of others as it says in Proverbs 27:5-6: “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Love even your enemies, as we we are taught in Proverbs 25:21: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…” Remember, love is not a popularity contest (done to be loved back). Love is work! You are only able to love the way God commands after you experience God’s love in Jesus Christ. So only the Christian can truly love. That’s the truth! Be warned then not to intermarry with non-believers because they can’t truly love. They don’t know true love. Are there benefits in love? God promises to bless those who love. Also, others may love you back and you will find contentment. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will grow in your sanctification by learning how to love and that you will die to selfishness and reflect more on God’s Love Letter. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 10 – Proverbs on giving and receiving honor

“By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” – Proverbs 22:4  Scripture reading: Proverbs 26:1-8 It is strange that in our society we often give movie stars and sports personalities more honor than we give policemen. If you watch reality TV shows about policemen, you’ll find there is an increasing lack of respect for them and you’ll even see violent attacks against them. And they serve us and protect us. But God commands you to show honor! Start with the fifth commandment and honor those on whom God places honor: parents, elders, teachers, employees, etc. (Proverbs 3:35). Respect them and treat them well. You are able to humble yourself and honor others when you remember what you were before and what the Lord Jesus has made of you. You were the pauper running madly to hell. He rescued you and gave you a new heart, a new record and a new life. You were brought into His kingdom, protected and fed. He then commands you to honor those over you. Then make it easy for people to honor you by living well. Don’t praise yourself; wait for honor. As Proverbs 27:2 says: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Or as we read in Proverbs 12:9: “Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.” Gain honor by fearing the Lord (Proverbs 15:33). Don’t be proud. Pride will destroy you (Proverbs 18:12). Or as it says in Proverbs 25:27, “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will worship and honor God in humility and that you will not boast about what you are or have accomplished and that you will honor those God has placed over you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 9 – Proverbs on friends and neighbors

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17  Scripture reading: Proverbs 19:1-6 It is very sad when a person has few or no friends. It is wonderful when you have friends – friends you are able to support and friends who support you back. You can pour out your hearts to each other. You can laugh, be sad and grow together. Those who like being alone rob themselves of one of the greatest blessings God gave to His children and they are robbing God of the praises that come to Him through friendships. But here are some warnings the wise man wanted to pass on regarding friendship and neighbors. Choose your friends carefully. Consider what you can give to a friendship, not just what you can get. Don’t choose friends because they are rich or have influence. Choose friends who won’t abandon you in difficult times. (Do you remember David and Jonathan’s faithfulness to each other?) Don’t be a fairweather friend either. A true friend will speak the truth to you, even if it hurts. A good friend will challenge your sinful actions. A good friend will challenge you to grow in your faith. You must also consider there may be friends you have to give up because they don’t build you up. That is a small price to pay. Christ died for you and brought you into His family with many wonderful brothers and sisters. Moreover, He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Enjoy Christian company and work together for Christ’s glorious kingdom. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be unselfish in your friendships and that you will work together with friends and neighbors for Christ’s kingdom and that you will always speak the truth. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 8 – Proverbs on discipline of children

“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.” – Proverbs 19:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 13:22-24 I heard someone say, “My children are my friends; I don’t hit friends.” But that is wrong on two fronts. First, your children may be friendly with you, but they are not your friends. They are your children! You don’t make friends eat vegetables or go to church. Second, you don’t “hit” your children; you spank them. Hitting is to satisfy your anger. God commands discipline. As Proverbs 13:24 says “… But he who loves his son disciplines him promptly.” So to not discipline your children is to hate them. That same verse begins: “He who spares his rod hates his son…” You must discipline from love. And you are to start discipline when they are young. And of course, spanking is not the only form of discipline. As children get older, the type of discipline changes. Children need discipline. In Proverbs 19:18 we read: “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction…” You can’t bend a branch when it is old. It is hard to do a worse thing to your children than not disciplining them. There are blessings to discipline (especially when it is combined with instruction). Discipline teaches a child to be humble. Discipline restores the child to the right path. In fact, Solomon said that if you spank your child you will save his soul from hell (Proverbs 23:13-14). So to not discipline your child is to desire for his death! And don’t forget the shame a bad child brings to parents. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be able to discipline from love not from anger and that you will have patience with your children, knowing God’s patience with you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 3 –  Proverbs on anger

“A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” – Proverbs 15:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 22:24-25 Good anger is a God-given emotion that every Christian must use properly. So be angry when your God is blasphemed and when His people are attacked. Be angry when babies are killed by abortions, when the family is attacked by the state and when covenant youths sin against the Lord. Then respond in the right way, knowing that even good anger can become sinful if your response is improper. For instance, if you are angry, but do nothing when you see Christian young people doing wrong, breaking the Sabbath, for instance, your anger becomes sinful. But there is also anger that is sinful. Sinful anger has resulted in wives being abused, people being killed in motor vehicle accidents, divorces, broken friendships and destroyed congregations. Men and women can become like volcanoes and blow up, even as Moses, who struck the rock instead of speaking to it for water for Israel. Other people bottle things up until their anger finally explodes. So when you are properly angry, react properly. Pray, speak and act if you can. When you are sinfully angry, ask God for the cure for sinful anger. Ask Him to make you patient with others in their weaknesses. If you ask anything in Christ’s name, He will give it to you. God has obligated Himself to do so. So stop saying you can’t control your anger. Sin is not able to reign in your body unless you let it. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might learn to control your anger and be patient and kind with others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 2 - Proverbs on fear

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." – Proverbs 29:25  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:24-26 Everyone is afraid of something. But not all fear is bad. You may fear standing at the edge of a cliff, touching a hot stove or hearing the rattle of a rattlesnake. Those are good fears. So use these fears. They will save your life. What about bad fears? First, there are irrational fears, like the fear of house spiders or the fear of enclosed spaces. There is no real danger, but some are afraid of these things. Second, some fear things that are outside of their control, like the future.  And this type of fear is based on a distrust of God, or at least it is based on a weak trust in God. Fear makes people prisoners. They don’t do what they should because they are afraid they can't control their circumstances. They don’t drive because they think they could have an accident and hurt someone. They won’t evangelize because they are afraid of rejection. They lack trust in God’s providence. They don’t think that God is willing and able to help. They may isolate themselves and not fulfill their responsibilities. How can you cure bad fears? The fear of God is the cure for sinful fears. Proverbs 9:10 tells us "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” The “fear of God” means you know and trust Him. You know and trust Him through Jesus. You experience love. Perfect love casts out fear. Love conquers fears. The more you love, the less you fear. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will see how fear cripples you from doing God’s work and ask the Lord to remove fears so you can live for Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON.  He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of January

We do not preach a lot of sermons from Proverbs, but it is not Solomon’s fault.  He was inspired by God to write these proverbs and God preserved them for us.  Since all Scriptures speak of Christ (how He saved us and how He sanctifies us for His glory) then we must find Christ in them.  It is our fault therefore that we do not preach more from Proverbs. One of the reasons we likely have not heard more preaching from Proverbs is that the book is seen as a list of morals. And since we insist on historical, redemptive preaching, Proverbs doesn’t seem to fit well into that way of preaching.  Well, maybe it is hard to preach Proverbs, but we must be bold.  We must dig into Proverbs and learn of our salvation and sanctification through Jesus Christ. This is what we will do this month. I hope after this month you will take more time to dig into this book regularly and see the rich doctrines it contains and illustrates. Let God’s Word bless you. Proverbs on pride  “By pride comes nothing but strife…” – Proverbs 13:10a  Scripture reading: Proverbs 21:1-5 Do you enjoy being around a humble person, someone with a gentle spirit?  You feel safe around him.  But it is most difficult to be around a show-off or egomaniac. He only talks about himself and you can’t wait to get away from him. What does pride look like? Proverbs 21:24 says: “A proud and haughty man —'Scoffer' is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.” A man may think he is superior by virtue of his education, money, position, ability or influence. What happens when one has pride?  The proud man with elevated feelings crushes others or takes advantage of them. Because of pride, Solomon enslaved his fellow Jews!  Pride caused slavery. Pride caused the destruction of the Jews in the holocaust by Hitler, the slaughter of the Armenians by the Muslims, and the murder of the Chinese and Koreans by the Japanese. Today we see pride when men abuse their wives, belittle different races and display impatience. God may destroy you if you are proud or destroy the thing in which you show your pride: car, wealth, job, education or health!  Remember Herod and the worms! Remember Adam. How do you cure pride? Know that God hates the proud.  Proverbs 8:13 tells us: “…Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate." God brings them down to destruction. You must, therefore, remember you are not your own but belong to your Saviour Who died for you. You are His servant. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will follow wisdom (another name for Jesus) and abandon pride, that you will humbly serve and worship the Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON.  He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

December 31 – The return of the King: Enjoying paradise forever!

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” – Isaiah 65:17 Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-5, 22-27; 22:1-5 The story of the Bible ends where it began: in the Paradise of a newly created world. The first Paradise was ruined by sin and cursed by God. Pain and punishment, sickness and sadness, disease and death resulted. But the story of the Bible has a “happily ever after” ending for all who trust in Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes again, the heavens and earth will be cleansed by fire (2 Peter 3:7,10-13). This is Good News. It will be a purifying fire that destroys all evil and purifies all that is good. It will be step one in God's work of “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Notice God does not say He will make “all new things” but that He will make “all things new.” While the absence of sin and its consequences will make the new creation feel very different from this fallen one, it will also feel very familiar: we will build houses and dwell in them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit, long enjoy the work of our hands; animals will populate the earth, living in peace without preying on each other; we will feast on the best of meats and finest of wines at the Bridegroom's banquet (Isaiah 65:21-25; 25:6-8). There will be no more curse. We won't even remember that sickness, sadness, sin and death once existed. We will dwell with God and each other in perfect harmony forever and ever. We cannot even imagine how amazing it will be (1 Corinthians 2:9). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you, in keeping with God's promise, would live each day looking forward to the new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness, which God has prepared for those who love Him (2 Peter 3:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 26 – Celebrating the Savior’s coming (2) with gentile Wise Men

 “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:10-11 Scripture reading: Matthew 2:1-12 On the night Jesus was born, an angelic choir announced His birth to Jewish shepherds who then hurried off to worship Him. Some time later, a special star announced to Gentile astrologers from the east that a Jewish king had been born. Guided by a special star, they arrived in the Jewish capital of Jerusalem. Guided the rest of the way by Micah's prophecy, they headed ten kilometers south to Bethlehem. There they found the King and worshiped Him. Notice that Jesus certainly is King of the Jews, but He is not King of only the Jews. The angel had told the Jewish shepherds that the birth of the Saviour was good news for all people. Now Gentile astrologers from the east travel from afar to worship King Jesus and pay homage with lavish gifts to celebrate this joyous event in a festal way. Just being a member of a church, having Christian parents, or setting up a Christmas tree doesn't mean you worship King Jesus. The Jews of Jesus' day had their church membership, Jewish parents, and customary clothes and religious rituals. But Herod, the religious leaders, and many common folk, wanted nothing to do with Jesus. In contrast, these wise Gentile men did! Though they worshiped Him with the limited knowledge they had, they worshiped Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords. In so doing, they foreshadow the worship that is now and ever will be offered to Jesus by Gentiles from all nations, tribes and tongues. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He redeems the rich and poor, shepherds and sages, Jews and Gentiles, and is building a Church that consists of people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 25 – Celebrating the Savior’s coming (1) with Jewish Shepherds

“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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.'” – Luke 2:10-11   Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-20 After not just hundreds, but thousands of years, the long-awaited Saviour was born. Although we don't know what day Jesus was actually born, it is certainly fitting that we set aside a day to remember His birth because His birth is the most important event in the history of the world. God certainly thought so. Look how He announced the birth of His Son. Suddenly, and without warning, the stillness of the dark night was broken. It was as if God switched on a set of bright spotlights, instantly transforming the field in which Jewish shepherds were sitting into an outdoor theatre where a spectacular sound-and-light show unfolded. First one angel pierced through the darkness with glorious, heavenly light while heralding good news of great joy: “Today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you.” Then a whole host of heavenly heralds appeared, bursting forth in praise, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” After the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem. Finding everything to be just as the heavenly heralds had said it would be, they returned home with hearts filled with uncontainable joy. Acting as the first evangelists, they imitated the angels by announcing the Good News of the Saviour's birth to those around them. Will you, like the shepherds, praise God for the gift of His Son and tell others that He is what Christmas is all about? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for fulfilling His promise to send the Saviour, and pray for an opportunity to share the meaning of Christmas with someone who might not know Who it's really all about. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 24 – A frequently forgotten advent figure: John the Baptist

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” – John1:29 “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” – Matthew 3:2,8 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:1-12 Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Pictures of peace and tranquility likely come to mind — perhaps that of a silent and holy night where all is calm and all is bright. So why consider John the Baptist? Didn't he wear clothes made of camel's hair, eat locusts and wild honey, and preach rather unsettling sermons? Yes, indeed. But despite his unusual personality and unpopular message, he is a very important Advent figure. John was born as little as six months before Jesus. As the last Old Testament prophet, he announced Christ's arrival with a declaration that contained a Passover connection: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But John suddenly switches his focus to Jesus' second coming. The fire John speaks about is not the warm glow of Christmas candlelight. The axe is not used for chopping down Christmas trees. John is speaking about the eternal fires of hell and the axe God will use to cut down the wicked. Then, like a parent who says, “I'm sick of hearing you say you're sorry. Show me you are sorry,” John calls us to bear fruit that shows our repentance and faith is genuine. We ought not to forget John the Baptist during the Advent season. By reminding us of the wrath of God that will be revealed at Jesus' second coming, John enables us to properly appreciate what Jesus came to do in His first coming: He bore God's wrath on the cross to give us peace with God. Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins, include your half-hearted 'sorries', to God. Ask for assurance that through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, this forgiveness has indeed been granted, God's wrath has been removed, and you have peace with God. Also, thank Jesus for His promise that all who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 23 – Prophets promise Christ’s coming (2): A backwater birthplace

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” – Micah 5:2 Scripture reading: Micah 5:2   The Israelites had returned from exile, rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, and re-instituted the temple. But the nation of Israel never returned to her former state of strength and glory. Not even close. Although the people of God were again living in their homeland, they never again enjoyed full independence as a nation. The Israelites were mere tenants who rented the land by paying tributary taxes to a succession of Persian, Greek and finally Roman rulers. As for the reconstructed temple, it was nowhere near its former size and splendor. And by Jesus' day, the throne in Jerusalem was occupied not by a righteous descendant of David, but by the ruthless, wicked Herod the Great. He stole his brother's wife. And to protect his position and power, he murdered not only the baby boys in Bethlehem, but many of his family members. With the palace occupied by a succession of corrupt, non-Davidic kings, how would the promised Ruler of David's line be born and come to reign? Micah's prophecy gives God's people a clue. Don't look to Jerusalem and its thoroughly corrupt corridors of power. Look to the backwater town of Bethlehem. This humble town would be the birthplace of Jesus, the Saviour. His lineage goes back not only to King David, who was born in this same town of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:12). This Ruler's lineage goes even further back into eternity past, He is not only the son of David, but the eternal Son of God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that though Jerusalem was occupied by evil rulers appointed by Rome, God's ancient promise still stood. Thank Jesus for being a King Who gives His life so we might gain ours. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 18 – Picture #4: A snake

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:14-15 Scripture reading: Numbers 21:1-9 By blessing the Israelites with bread and water every day, God made it good and clear that He could and would keep His people alive in the barren wilderness. And He did! After bringing them safely to the border of the Promised Land, twelve men went in and explored. They returned with a glowing report about the land, but a grim report about the people living there: “We can't attack those people. They are far bigger and stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:23-27, 31-33). What unbelievable unbelief! God got them out of Egypt. Surely He could get them into the Promised Land? Yes, He could! But their unbelief earned them forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Fast-forward forty years. Had their behavior improved? Not really. They were again complaining about the lack of water and moaning about the monotonous manna. So God sent venomous snakes to inflict death-inducing bites. Many died. Had God's grace run out? No! When His children confessed their sin, He gave yet another picture of Jesus: a snake on a pole. By looking in faith at the serpent, the poisoned person was cured. Shocking, isn't it? Serpents are cursed symbols of sin and Satan. How could this be a picture of Jesus? While suspended on the cross, God laid on Jesus all our sin and rebellion, making Him a symbol of all that is heinous and evil. And there, Jesus redeemed us from the curse of eternal death by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). Suggestions for prayer Thank God that just as the Israelites who looked to the bronze serpent were saved from physical death, so all who look to Jesus as the sin-bearer are saved from eternal death. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 17 – Picture #3: Bread

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” – John 6:51  Scripture reading: Exodus 16:1-5, 15-18, 31-35; John 6:48-51  God got His grumbling people through the first two weeks in the wilderness by giving them water on multiple occasions. Then, when the supply of food they had taken from Egypt ran out, they were confronted with another crisis: starvation! Instead of turning to God in prayer, they turned against Him in protest: “You have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death. If only we had died in Egypt!” (16:3). What unbelievable unbelief! What would you do if you were God? Better question: What did God do? With an impulse of grace, He declared, “I will rain down bread from heaven” (16:4). When they woke up the next morning, the desert floor was covered with thin frost-like flakes called manna. The flakes were white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. What amazing grace! Grace for grumblers and gripers in the form of daily bread from heaven. But this manna was more than just physical food. It was a picture of Jesus. After miraculously multiplying five small barley loaves to sufficiently feed a crowd of five thousand people, Jesus pointed to Himself, saying, “Here is the bread that comes down from heaven.... Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:50-51). Suggestions for prayer We eat physical food on a daily basis to nourish our body. Ask God to help you feed on Jesus, the Living Bread, on a daily basis, to nourish your soul. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 16 – Picture #2: Water

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14 Scripture reading: Exodus 15:22-27 The Israelites escaped from Egypt and safely crossed the Red Sea. But they were not in the Promised Land yet. A vast wilderness now stood before them. Sand, sand and more sand. Scorching heat. Some poisonous snakes too. But no food. Rarely any water. This would be no picnic! But God was with them. They traveled for three full days without finding any water. Then, when they finally did find water, they found it was too bitter to drink. Since the desert is a drink-or-die environment, this was a state of emergency. Knowing that God graciously brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you would think they would believe God would continue to take care of them throughout their wilderness journey. But no! They doubted, disbelieved and grumbled. Yet God responded with grace. He told Moses to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water and suddenly it became sweet. Grace for grumblers. What a God! The next stop was at the oasis of Elim. The twelve springs and seventy palm trees symbolize the fullness of God's provision. Twelve springs, one for each tribe; seventy palm trees, one for each of Israel's elders. Full provision for the full number of God's people. This life-giving water in the wilderness was a picture of Jesus. He says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.... The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 7:37; 4:14b). Suggestions for prayer Thank God that the waters of His sin-cleansing, eternal life-giving grace flow in an unending stream and are available free of charge through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 15 – Picture daily #1: The Last Supper, the first Passover

“Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” – 1 Corinthians 5:7b  Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-7, 12-13, 21-30 It would be another 1,400 years before Jesus was born. But God kept placing the promise of Christ's coming before His people by giving them pictures of Jesus. Not full-color photos of the man named Jesus, but simple pictures called shadows (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). A shadow might not seem like much of a picture. But it is a picture of sorts. It shows the general shape of something. The first picture of Jesus that God gives appears in the last supper the Israelites ate prior to leaving Egypt. The first nine plagues were directed only against Egypt. But the tenth plague would affect Egyptians and Israelites alike. The destroying angel would kill the firstborn in every single home because this plague symbolized God's universal judgment upon sin, and Egyptians and Israelites alike were sinners. Thank God, there was a way to escape this deadly judgment. By sacrificing a Passover lamb and painting its blood on the door frame of a home, people were ensured that the angel of death would pass over their home. The Passover lamb was God's gift. It was a substitute that died instead of the sinner. More importantly, the Passover lamb was a simple, shadow-like picture of Jesus. Consider the shadow's shape: the lamb had to be a male; in its prime (one-year-old); without defect (Exodus 12:5). That's the same shape as Jesus! He was a man, without sin, and in His prime of life, He sacrificed Himself on the cross as our Passover Lamb. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for sending Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 10 – Noah: Cleansing of creation through watery judgment

“Behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth....Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.” – Genesis 6:17-18 Scripture reading: Genesis 6 Support for Satan's side surged during the days of Enoch's great-grandson Noah. The sexual sin that began with Lamech's bigamy soon reached unprecedented levels of perversion. Violence and corruption filled the earth and subdued it. Every inclination of the thoughts of peoples' hearts were only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). The whole human race, except for Noah and his family, had sided with Satan. Was there anything to look forward to? Yes! Noah looked forward to the restoration of creation. But restoration began with the catastrophic waters of a cleansing judgment. Most people did not believe such a judgment would come. But it did. And it cleansed the earth of evil by burying all evildoers in a watery grave. Only Noah and his family were saved. They trusted God's word about the coming judgment and obeyed God's command to build an ark. This lifeboat saved them. And they stepped out safely onto the green grass of a cleansed and renewed creation. The watery judgment of Noah's day pictures the fiery judgment that will fall when Jesus returns. It will be a cosmic, cleansing judgment that burns away all evil and purifies all good (2 Peter 3:6-7,10). It hasn't happened yet, but it will. Maybe this sounds more like something to fear than something to look forward to. But evil must be removed before creation can be renewed. Enter by faith into Jesus. He is your ark. He will protect you from the fiery judgment and place you safely on the green grass of God's new creation. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that just as He provided an ark to save Noah from the watery cleansing judgment, so He provides Jesus to save us from the fiery cleansing judgment that is yet to come. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 9 – Enoch & Lamech: where loyalty leads

“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, 'and was not found, because God had taken him'; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – Hebrews 11:5 Scripture reading: Genesis 4:13–5:6,18-24 The spiritual fault-line established in Genesis 3:15 divided humanity into two sides: Satan's side and the Saviour's side. Where does loyalty to Satan lead? Where does loyalty to the Saviour lead? Let's see by looking at the lives of two individuals who stand seven generations down the line on opposite sides of the fault-line. Why seven? Because the Bible uses the number seven not only to specify quantities, but also to symbolize fullness or the full extent of something. The life of the seventh man in Cain's line and the life of the seventh man in Seth's line shows us where our loyalties ultimately lead. Seven generations down Cain's line is Lamech (Genesis 5:18). Lamech defies God's norm for marriage by taking two wives. He kills a man who wounded him and memorializes the murder by composing a poem about it. Multiple wives. Murder. What a mess! That's where loyalty to Satan leads. Enoch is the head of the seventh generation in Seth's line (Gen.5:18). His life shows us where loyalty to the Saviour leads. Enoch walked with God, meaning he obeyed God's commands. As a result, he was ushered into the presence of God without experiencing physical death. Lamech and Enoch stood on opposite sides of the spiritual fault-line. As seventh in their respective lines, they symbolize the full extent of where one's loyalty leads. Loyalty to Satan leads to eternal death. Loyalty to the Saviour leads to eternal life. Where does your loyalty lie? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would give you a heart that deeply loves Jesus and is wholeheartedly devoted to Him, for He is a Master worthy of our deepest love and loyalty! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 8 – Cain & Abel: Two lines, two heads, the first quake

“Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, ‘For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.’”– Genesis 4:25  Scripture reading: Genesis 4:1-16, 25 Although Adam and Eve are no longer in Paradise, they still experience God's gracious goodness: they have God's promises, they are on God's side, and now they are the proud parents of two boys. Cain becomes a gardener; Abel a herdsman. Two different men. That's okay. Two different occupations. That's okay too. Not okay is that the two brothers stand on opposite sides of the spiritual fault-line because they are loyal to two different masters. The sacrifices show where their loyalties lie. God required their first and their best. Cain offered some of his produce. Not the first fruits, not the best fruits, just 'some.'  In contrast, Abel offered the firstborn from his flock and gave the fat portions, meaning the best portions, to God. Cain grew jealous and angry because God looked with favor upon Abel's sacrifice, but not on his. God warned Cain to master his sin lest sin masters him. But Cain didn't listen. Hatred quaked within his heart. His brother became the victim. And Eve, the mother of all living, became the mother of one dead. Her two sons stood on opposite sides of the spiritual fault-line. Cain represents those who are loyal to Satan. Abel represents those loyal to the Saviour. But Abel is now dead and Jesus was supposed to descend from Abel's line. Could God's people still look forward to the Advent of Christ?  Yes! God gave Eve another son, Seth, in place of Abel. From Seth's line, the Saviour would come (Luke 3:23, 38). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for keeping Advent hope alive when Satan sought to snuff it out. Ask God to reassure you that no matter how powerful Satan may be, God's plans will prevail and His kingdom will not fail. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 7 – One fault line, two lines of loyalty

“He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’”– Hebrews 12:26b  Scripture reading: Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 12:25-29  Geographical fault-lines are deep, lengthy cracks in the earth's crust. They run through countries and continents, forming crevices so deep and gaps so wide that they physically separate people onto opposite sides of an impassible divide. Spiritual fault lines are both similar and different. In Genesis 3:15, God established a spiritual fault-line which separates the entire human race into two sides: Satan's side and God's side. But it is not a physical or spatial separation; rather, it is a separation based on a person's loyalties. By obeying Satan, Adam and Eve showed allegiance to Satan and joined his side. But God quickly fractured that loyalty by placing enmity between them and their respective seed. This was a good kind of fracture! It broke apart a deadly allegiance, separating Adam and Eve from Satan by setting them on the Saviour's side. But fault-lines are also dangerous. Just as geographical fault-lines are places where two tectonic plates press against each other, causing deadly earthquakes, so spiritual fault-lines are places where extreme pressure between Satan and the Saviour and between those loyal to them, results in deadly fighting. Tomorrow we will see how pressure between these two sides quickly builds to a quaking point. Today we note that when Jesus returns, His mighty voice will shake the entire earth. The final separation will take place as the earth opens its mouth, swallowing all those on Satan's side, but leaving those on God's side to enjoy the green grass of God's new creation. Whose side do you stand on? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for Jesus Christ Who is the bridge that allows us to cross from Satan's side to the Saviour's side where there is eternal safety and security. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015. ...

Daily devotional

December 2 – Permission & prohibition

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”– Genesis 2:16-17  Scripture reading: Genesis 2:16-25 Picture-perfect. That's how the world really was when God first created it. And Adam and Eve could have lived in this perfect state forever if they obeyed God's command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Was God being miserly and restrictive by prohibiting this one tree? No! God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat from any and all of the multitude of trees in the garden. They had a buffet-sized selection of food to sustain and satisfy them. Only one was off-limits. This tells us something about God. He is not miserly nor stingy. Not at all! He is generous. He delights to bless His children with an abundance of good gifts. Consider how He lavishly provided Adam and Eve with a Paradise full of pleasures to enjoy: food, drink, fellowship, friendship, and the pleasures of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch, too! Would they delight in the abundance God had provided for them? Would they willingly obey His command? If so, they would continue to enjoy this state of peace, tranquility and harmony with God and with each other. Paradise would be theirs. Theirs forever! But if they disobeyed, Paradise would be lost. And they would surely die. God continues to bestow many blessings upon us each day. His mercies are new every morning. Will we accept the blessings He gives and find pleasure in them? Or will we look for pleasure in that which is forbidden? Suggestions for prayer Every good thing you have is ultimately a generous gift given to you by God (James 1:17). Name some of these gifts, thank God for them, and pray that you would delight in them. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 1 – “Looking forward to the coming of Christ” series

Looking Forward: My guess is that as you turned the page on your calendar from November to December, your first thought might have been, “Wow! Christmas is almost upon us again!” For children and adults alike, Christmas day is often the first thing that comes to mind as we transition into the last month of the year. Understandably so because the celebration of Christ's birth is something that we look forward to with a sense of excitement and eager anticipation. Christmas lights come out. Christmas trees are put up. Christmas music is turned on. Jesus' birth is certainly an event worth remembering. While our thinking turns to Jesus' birth once again, we do well to remind ourselves that God began thinking about Christ's coming into the world long before the world even began. And did you know that the first promise about Christ's coming was given by God in the Garden of Eden over six thousand years ago? Jump in with us this month to journey through the Bible with the theme “Looking forward to the coming of Christ” as our tour guide. Since the first few chapters of Genesis are so foundational we will spend the first few days camping in the Garden of Eden. Our pace will then pick up as we travel into Egypt (Exodus), through the wilderness (Numbers), into the Promised Land (Joshua), then to a foreign land, and back to the Promised Land again where the long-promised Saviour is born. We will end our journey by looking forward to Christ's second Advent. Let's begin our journey. Picture perfect paradise “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:1, 31a Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1, 31; 2:1-15 When God created the universe, everything was perfect. Pristinely perfect! Adam and Eve lived in God's beautiful garden and pleasures abounded. Flowers to see and smell, birds to hear, playful animals to watch, satisfying sensations from the sense of touch, tasty food to savor, refreshing water to drink, cascading waterfalls, lush valleys and magnificent mountain vistas to view. And to top it all off – the closest of companionship with God and with a spouse in which to enjoy all these blessings. What a joy! Adam and Eve also worked the garden, but it was pure pleasure to work in God's service. It's been said, “Get a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life.” That's the way it was for Adam and Eve in Paradise. In this state of supreme happiness and contentment, they did not have to look forward to a better state. They were living in a picture-perfect world. But it wasn't just a picture. It was real! Sadly, our experience of life falls so very far short of this perfect Paradise. It is hard for us to even imagine what life was like for Adam and Eve. But take heart! God will restore this world to its pristine and perfect state when Jesus returns. “Behold,” He promises in Isaiah 65:17, “I will create new heavens and a new earth.” You will be among those who enjoy life in this renewed creation if you trust in Jesus as your Saviour and the Lord of all creation. Suggestions for prayer As you worship today on this first Sunday of Advent, thank God for the promise of Jesus' second coming and the new creation He promises to usher in when He comes again. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

November 30 – A certain knowledge

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 Scripture reading: Romans 8 Faith is not some blind leap in the dark. Christian faith is first and foremost a certain knowledge. Faith knows certain facts. First, faith knows the truth of this world. Faith deals with reality, this sad age is our fault. The problem in the world is our problem. Faith never says, “I know I do bad things, but deep down inside I’m a good person.” No, faith is honest, it knows that deep down is the problem. Faith also knows that we have been delivered from this problem. Faith knows that we are not alone. Faith knows that the Holy Spirit works in this sad age to bless us. It also trusts God’s omnipotence. Faith knows that “all things” includes “the sufferings of this present time.” Job sums up the “all things” best when He confessed in great adversity, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” God makes the foulest clean. Faith knows that God is sovereign, which is a most comforting doctrine. The omnipotence of God is very practical. That’s right, I said doctrine is practical. Worried about your career? Your job is in His Almighty hands. Worried about your health? Your body is under His cosmic microscope. God’s providence undergirds and directs all of life. God’s power is not limited. Some ask, “if God is all-powerful, why pray?” We respond, “If He is not all-powerful, why pray?” Let me ask you, “Do you want a God in control of evil?” Before you answer, know that if He is not, then He cannot really ever help you. True faith rests in God’s omnipotent hands. Suggestions for prayer Pray that in church tomorrow your faith will be strengthened and pray that those without faith would find Christ as their only comfort in life and in death. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 29 – The Tree of Life

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1 Scripture reading: Romans 8 Romans 8 has been called the “tree of life in the midst of the Garden of Eden.” This chapter is a comprehensive study on how to live and die in the comfort of the Lord. It is the tree of life that sustains us in our earthly pilgrimage. Romans 8 concerns the blessings and privileges every believer has in Christ. These benefits result in Christianassuranceand assurance is the key to Christian living. Why? Because assurance comforts the weary soul, it relieves the wayward Christian of guilt, it provides confidence to those struggling with faith, it gives the peace that passes beyond this sad world, and takes us into the world to come. Romans 8 takes us into the Garden of Eden that we might continue to eat from the tree of life, that is to consume the Word in joyful service to the Glory of God and our enjoyment of Him forever. With evil close at hand, (Rom. 7:20) Paul says later in Romans, “who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” The answer? None! Why none? Because of two promises, Romans 8 promises: (1) no more condemnation; (2) no more separation. These promises are grounded in the gospel “for those in Christ Jesus.” What is the opposite of condemnation? Being in Christ Jesus. In Christ, we are the righteousness of God. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for His grace endures forever. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 24 – Devoted to grace

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” – Romans 6:15–16 Scripture reading: Romans 6 Amazing grace might tempt the flesh to think grace leads to freedom to sin (cf. Rom 6:1). The answer is obvious. While we cherish God’s mercy, we don’t cheapen it by thinking we should sin to get more. That would mean we sin because of grace. Just because grace guts the law of its power, does not mean we are free to do whatever we want. There is a greater purpose behind justification—justified to become slaves of righteousness. We don’t cheapen grace, no, we devote ourselves to it. Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart will follow. Well, there is no greater treasure on earth than grace. It is greater in every way. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, needy people often sold themselves into slavery as a way to avoid financial danger. These were voluntary submissions and often wise choices. Masters promised to provide all that the slaves needed if the slaves devoted themselves completely to their masters. The masters then devoted themselves to the slaves’ care. We are likewise bound either devoted to the master of death or to the Lord of life. You must serve someone and there is no third-party option. If you do your own thing, you are serving the master of death. You want to be slaves of righteousness because there is no hope without it. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and your church would be devoted to God’s grace that works in us together with a love for God and one another. May our love for one another show the watching world the greatness of grace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 23 – Baptism saves

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:3–4 Scripture reading: Romans 6 Christian living follows baptism. Baptism saves? Not the water, but the thing signified (“into Christ Jesus” and “into His death”). Baptism clothes us in Christ’s life and death. We are really united to Christ’s body so that His death brings forth fruit in our bodies. His flesh powers over our flesh that we might be changed. We are united to Christ not to increase in sin but to destroy it. Baptism is the means to the power of the Gospel Kingdom. Many hear this and think “baptismal immersion” as if this text speaks of submersion and emersion. Yet what does it say? Baptism is the means by which we were buried somewhere—where? In Christ! This text says nothing about the ritual of baptism or the application, but the event. Baptism is a burial event. It places us into Christ’s death. It is gospel, it is history—Christ’s death becomes our present reality. Here is its power to change—“It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me.” Baptism places us into the resurrection. Baptism is gospel, where the history of Christ’s resurrection becomes our present reality. What took place with Christ, what happened to His body and blood has taken place in us through baptism. In baptism, we are sacramentally judged with Christ, raised, gone into heaven, and are there hidden with Christ. We will also come again with Christ in glory. Here is the power to change. We are now in glory and sin’s power has forever been rendered powerless. Here is the power to change. The power is the gospel. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you never forget your baptism, but remember that you belong to Christ and therefore may grow and increase daily in the faith that is at work in every good deed. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 22 – The Gospel of the Kingdom of God

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1–2 Scripture reading: Romans 6 Over two thousand years have passed since Christ promised the Kingdom of God. Does it affect our lives today? According to Romans 6, the Kingdom of God has everything to do with the Christian life. In Romans 5, Paul explains how the gospel of the Kingdom has delivered us from the penalty of sin. Now in Romans 6, we learn how the gospel of the Kingdom saves us from sin’s power. In Adam, sin stormed into the world bringing with it destruction and death. Now, in Christ, grace has destroyed sin’s control. Christ has overcome this destruction and death with a grace greater than sin. The greatness of grace effects our justification and affects our sanctification. We live godly and quiet lives because we live in Christ. I’m not talking about perfection. Our lives are still messy. We are justified sinners. Evil still lies close at hand. How close? Too close, danger close, not beside, but in us, all around us, contacting and influencing our daily lives. We have carried into the Kingdom of God old baggage. We live with old habits that need to be broken – no, no, no, that need to be destroyed. Already sin is defeated, yet we must be killing sin or it will be killing us. We must put sin to death in our sanctification, not by our might or power but by the Spirit of the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray for continued victory over your sin and temptation. Here the Lord’s Prayer in helpful, “lead me not into temptation.” This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 21 – Total love

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” – Romans 5:10–11 Scripture reading: Romans 5 The power of God’s love is total: totally depraved we are now totally saved because Christ is a complete Savior. Paul has substituted the word “justified” for “reconciled.” Justification is forensic, legal language. It pictures the believer being declared innocent of all charges. Reconciliation language, on the other hand, comes from the world of personal relationships. “To reconcile” means to bring together or make peace between two hostile parties. The cross makes peace. It destroys sinners and makes us believers. It takes us from the kingdom of darkness and transfers us into the Kingdom of light. Who belongs to the Kingdom of God? Those who have been washed “by His blood,” that is, those who are presently clean “by the death of His Son” and whose final salvation is “by His life.” Salvation from beginning to end is all in, with, by, and through Christ. By His death, our sins forgiven, we have peace with God. By His life, our righteousness, we have access to God. Because Christ is a whole Savior, our salvation is secure now and forever. Christ is the assurance of faith. If Hewas only a half-Savior, then there would be cause for concern. Our half – have we met our half of the bargain? Have we done enough, loved enough, progressed enough? Our half would rob us of His love, yet because Heis our whole Savior, we have no fear of being cut off from His love in the middle of our Christian life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would see how much you have been forgiven that you might love more and hate sin more and turn from it. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 16 – A new standing

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1 Scripture reading: Romans 5 To be justified means to be declared righteous. Justified, we stand in righteousness. Now you might ask, “When do I start standing in righteousness? I would like that much indeed because I still sin and struggle with failure.” We feel the way of death all around us. Now this verb “have been justified” is past tense, from Paul’s perspective. Heand the saints in the church in Rome were justified in the past. Justification is a past act because it happens only once. The moment you first believed you were declared innocent of all charges brought against you who “sin and fall short of the glory of God.”Why? Because we have a King and a powerful One at that, Who loses no one. The moment you first believed, from then on, nothing can stand against you, nothing can separate you from His righteousness: not death (5:12–21), not sin (ch6), not the law (ch7),—nothing! (ch8). The result of justification is peace. We have a new life of peace. In the OT, the prophets spoke about this peace, the shalom that God would bring about in the last days. This is our day. By faith we scale the heavens to quietly enjoy its blessings now. By faith, Thy Kingdom comes on earth. By faith we have entered the peace of Paradise. Suggestions for prayer Pray for church tomorrow, that we sinners, unworthy in ourselves, would be partakers of the new life in Christ. Pray that God would further sanctify us by His Holy Spirit that we would stand in grace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 15 – The law of faith

“Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” – Romans 3:27–28 Scripture reading: Romans 3-4 Without faith there is no recovery of truth or life, no godliness, Christian discipline, good works, or pleasing God without it. Sound doctrine and good works emerge from faith itself. Thus sola fide is a hallmark of the Reformation, where we rediscovered how to be right with the God of the Bible. Other virtues make us like Christ, but faith alone makes us inChrist. You can love and follow Christ or you can believe and become one with the Savior. You can count the cost of redemption and try your best or by the hand of faith receive His merits and be justified. Faith is the sole means of salvation. Martin Luther said, “O it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith.” Faith is the sole means of salvation because, first, it excludes all works from justification. All works are excluded on two fronts. First, God has excluded them. The Greek verb excluded is passive and without an agent it is known by Greek grammarians as a divine passive. God is the agent of exclusion. How has Heexcluded boasting? By doing all the work of salvation, which has been Paul’s point all along. This is a defense of God’s righteousness. Not our doing, because we cannot do anything. All we do is unrighteousness. Grace then becomes the necessary cause of justification. Christ becomes the material cause of justification. Salvation is of the Lord. Justification is God’s justification, which eliminates any pride. God’s work has excluded any work we might offer. So, we believe instead. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would preserve our missionaries from every danger. Pray that their work would prosper through their words and deeds. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 14 – The life of faith

“…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:” – Romans 3:22 Scripture reading: Romans 3 We are the subjects of faith. In the Bible, Christ is always the object of faith. This is Protestantism 101. This is Biblical Christianity, justification sola fide. The ESV translates this passage perfectly, “faith in Jesus Christ.” Paul’s use of faith is always faith in, that is a certain knowledge “for all who believe.” If you know and trust in Christ’s finished work, then today you belong with Him in paradise. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Colossians 3:1–4 By faith, we have been raised with Christ. It is a new day. By faith, we belong to a heavenly age.  We belong to the age where righteousness dwells. It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me. We are citizens of a Kingdom not of this world. Christ has regained Paradise, the life we now live by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the continued salvation of your unbelieving friends and family. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 13 – But now

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it…” – Romans 3:21 Scripture reading: Romans 3 Romans 3:21 begins with two of the most important words in all the Bible – but now. But now, instead of wrath, there is pardon. In the place of fear, there is now hope. Instead of guilt, now there is the righteousness of God, which comes apart from the law. Wrath of God was being revealed against the unrighteous, but now we have another righteousness that turns away wrath. None is righteous, we are condemned, but now, I, who once was lost, now I’m found. I was dead in sin, but now I am alive. The old is gone, but now it is no longer I who live but Christ in me. I was condemned, but now there is no more condemnation. We were without hope and without God in the world(Eph. 2:12b). In a sense, without Christ you still have God, in His wrath. But now the gospel redeems us from the wrath of God. There is now hope with the gospel because Jesus endured the wrath for us. The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has changed everything for the better, to those who believe. Suggestions for prayer Don’t focus too long on your sin and misery, but focus on Christ Who has saved you from your sin and misery and thank God for the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 8 – The means of faith

“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” – Romans 1:9–12 Scripture reading: Romans 1 The word serve is also translated worship. The gospel is our worship. The gospel causes our worship. Worship then affects our service. The Reformed had this saying, “the way of worship is the way of life.” Worship, the means of grace, affects how we live. Proper devotion, through proper means, leads to true discipleship. The power of Paul’s service was found in the gospel, a gospel that empowered him to serve the church. Paul was gospeled through and through. It was the content of his service, it was the power behind his service. Prayer is not a means of grace, but a chief part of thankfulness for the means of grace. The means of grace is a gift from God that keeps on giving. That gift is faith. The word “gift” is the noun charisma. Paul longed to visit Rome that he might give them charisma. Did he want to make them Pentecostal? No, it was a gift that strengthened. Paul was called by God to dispense the means of strength. What kind of strength? The means of grace strengthens faith. Now we can better understand Paul’s “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” The means of grace is a spiritual gift that strengthens us spiritually. The all things is the strengthening of our faith and obedience. Suggestions for prayer Pray for strength and obedience to God’s Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 7 – A new tongue

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” – Romans 1:8–10 Scripture reading: Romans 1 Paul thanks God. He doesn’t thank the church for their faith. Rome was an active church; they had an active faith. They were a mission-oriented church. They were worldly in a good sense as a light to the world. Paul swears to God that He will serve this church, hopefully by coming to preach the gospel and in prayer. But isn’t swearing prohibited? Didn’t Jesus say that we cannot make oaths? If so, what are we to say about all the Old Testaments saints who swore? What about Jesus, Who often testified, “Truly, Truly, I say to you.” That is an oath formula. What about Paul who made several oaths in Acts and in his epistles? Jesus did not condemn oaths. He condemned the unlawful use of oaths. He condemned lying. In context, the Jews would swear by lesser things, other than Yahweh, by His throne or heaven. In their legalism they found a loophole to get out of oaths, “I don’t have to honor that agreement, because I didn’t swear by God’s name.” As it says in James 5, let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Jesus condemned lying. Oaths are proper and good. An oath is nothing else but an appeal to God that we are telling the truth, “So help me God.” That formula is important for it recognizes that vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Lord, “so tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for your tongue that it speaks truth, justice, and peace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 6 – A new love

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:7 Scripture reading: Romans 1 Here is the gospel of God – God simply loves us. The gospel of God is therefore free “grace to you.” Grace is God’s desire to love us. Grace is His longing to bless us. Grace gives us the greatest gift – the history of redemption. It gives us a Son. The result of this gospel of grace is peace. Peace is the best gift because this is not a peaceful life. Yet for us in Christ, in the midst of this sad world, in trouble, adversity, sickness, and health, we can draw on God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for strength. We can come to the gospel of our Almighty God, Who is able, and to our Father, Who is willing to enrich us with His gifts; and to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has purchased grace and peace for us. The gospel of God is only found in Christ Who finished redemption on the cross and has been raised from the dead, the only One anointed with grace and peace. What is the gospel of God? It's what our faithful Savior Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and what He continues to apply to us today through the preaching of the Word. The gospel of God is finished and it is finishing us more and more. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the calling of your minister this week, that He would work hard and good to preach Christ from all the Scriptures; that He would share the love of God to your family and all those in need. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 5 – A new belong

 “…including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…” – Romans 1:6 Scripture reading: Romans 1 Great leaders, like Paul, are called, but so too are the lowliest of us. All Christians are servants. There are not carnal Christians and victorious Christians. It is not that some Christians will never really show forth good works while others will. No, there is only one kind of Christian – servant of Christ Jesus, because there is one and the same application of the gospel. “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:7 Christ applies the same gift to all believers. All Christians are servants because all Christians are saints. Sainthood does not belong to a select few, a few victorious Christians. It's not as if some have achieved some high moral standard and thus become saints. Every Christian in Rome, who was set apart, called, regenerated, and believed was a saint. The word, “saint,” in Scripture is never used of an individual, like “St. Peter” or “St. Mary.” It is always plural. It is always used of believers. Christians are the holy ones, set apart because Christ accomplished the gospel of God and the Holy Spirit has applied it to us. Why did God send His Son to die on the cross? Why did Christ willingly die for sinners? One answer – “who are loved by God.” Why did God love us? Because we are saints? No, His love has made us saints. Does He love us because of our service? No, His love has made us servants. Why does God love us? He loves us because He loves us. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your calling, your vocation, that you would work hard and good for His glory. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

October 31 – Preserving grace

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. – Jude 1:20-21 Scripture reading: Jude You might have noticed in yesterday's reading that Jude bookends his short letter by reassurances that Christians are kept (Jude 1) and that God will keep Christians (Jude 24). That's God's preserving grace. But then in verse 21, Jude surprises us by pressing upon the believers the need to keep themselves in the love of God. What's Jude doing here? He's reminding them of what the Holy Spirit reminds Christians of everywhere in the Bible. Christians must persevere in the Christian life. God will finish the work He has begun, and Christians must complete the race they started to run. Christians must work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Or as we see in our reading today, God's power guards us through faith (1 Pet. 1:5). God has prepared an inheritance for His people. It will be revealed when Christ returns in glory. But will we be faithful to the end so as to receive what has been prepared? This is an especially poignant question in light of the various trials we face. The Bible answers that we must. The writer to the Hebrews warns us not to shrink back but to live by faith lest we throw away our confidence (Hebrews 10:37). The Bible also answers that we will be faithful. God enables us. God guards us, and He guards us through faith. Oh, how we must have Christ continually placarded before our eyes that we might always put our trust and confidence in Him Who is faithful. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that the light of the gospel was recaptured in the Reformation during the 1500s. Pray that God would enable us to be faithful with the deposit that we have been given and that we would continue to cling to Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and man. Ask God to enable your pastor to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 30 – Preserving grace

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. – John 10:27-29 Scripture reading: Jude You probably have fastened a picture to the wall with Scotch tape only to have gravity yank it down. You re-attach it, applying pressure until your thumb is paralyzed. You watch it for a while and it stays put. You think you've succeeded, only to have it flutter to the ground the moment you turn away in triumph. Do you think the Triune God has that frustration with those whom He saves? Are they safe one minute and lost the next? The glad and glorious answer is “No!”. Christians are Christians forever. The God Who calls them is the God Who keeps them. As Jesus said, no one will snatch them out of His hand or His Father's hand (John 10:28-29). That is not to say that some won't try. Satan as always attempting to undo the work of God. And he has his allies. The world without seeks to form us in its mould and the flesh within fights against the Spirit to divorce us from Christ. The Christian is the battleground between the forces of light and darkness. And at times the battle can be so intense that Christians can wonder if they will remain Christians. But we have no reason to fear. The hand that measures the waters in its palm keeps us. The hands that were pierced on Calvary and now rule the universe protect us. For Christ there are no lost causes. Christians are kept (Jude 1) and God keeps them (Jude 24). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that our salvation depends, from start to finish, on His sovereign grace and mercy. Ask the Lord to humble us so that we might not become either self-reliant or spiritually careless with our Christian walk. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 29 – Unstoppable grace

“...his dominion is an everlasting dominion. . . He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” – Daniel 4:35-36 Scripture reading: John 6:25-40 How can the Lord Jesus speak with such confidence when He says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me . . .”? How does He know they will come? What if they don't want to? Will they then be forced to come to Jesus? How can Jesus be so sure? Jesus’ confidence rests on a number of pillars. First, the Bible teaches that God's plans always come to pass and that no one can thwart His purpose. If God, the Almighty One, has purposed to save someone from eternal punishment, that will undoubtedly happen. Second, Christ knows what He is going to do. He knows that He is going to Calvary for the forgiveness of sins of those whom the Father designs to save. He also knows that His death will defeat Satan, the enemy of our souls. That means that Satan's grip on us will be broken and we can be delivered from the domain of darkness. Third, the Lord Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit upon completion of His work on earth. Christ knows that that Spirit, Who is the divine matchmaker, will bring the sinner and the Saviour together. The one chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son will receive new life by the Holy Spirit so that he willingly and freely comes to Christ as He is freely offered in the gospel. It will happen. Guaranteed. The Triune God’s grace is unstoppable. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that the Holy Spirit persisted in His work to bring us to the Saviour, conquering our natural resistance to God and to grace. Pray that many would come to the Saviour that they might have life and that we might be instruments to point them to Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 28 – Christ’s successful death

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:25-27 Scripture reading: John 10:1-18 If you have ever given blood, sweat, and tears to something you desperately wanted to succeed, only to see it collapse in failure, you will know the sense of dejection and frustration that arises. Many have experienced this. Our Lord Jesus, however, did not. He went to the cross to save His people from their sins and everyone for whom He died will undoubtedly be saved. Imagine bearing God's wrath and curse for someone who ends up bearing the same in hell. That would be unthinkable! Jesus’ death really accomplished what Jesus set out to do. The Father had given Him a flock of sinful, wandering sheep who are on the road to eternal punishment. For them, Christ had to intervene. For them, Christ had to bear the judgment of God. And for them, He did exactly that. As the Lord Jesus Himself said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). But didn’t the Lord Jesus make propitiation “for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2)? Not if you mean that he died for every man, woman, and child individually. If that were the case, all would be saved because Christ’s work can't be frustrated. We wouldn’t object to that if the Bible taught that. However, it does speak of outer darkness for some. But if by “world” you mean that He died for all sorts of people (not just one race) and for a great number that no one can count, then yes, we gladly declare that Jesus is “indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42) and, by grace, ours too. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that the death of Christ really cleanses from all sin and that we need to make no contribution to our salvation. Pray for missionaries, ministers, and evangelists that all those for whom Christ died will hear the voice of their Shepherd and be brought into the fold. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 23 – Our God is a consuming fire

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. – Psalm 2:10-12 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 1:9-18 Evidently, Ahaziah wasn't keen on the prognosis. But God's announcements of judgment are often conditional. If he had done what Nineveh would later do, that is, repent, we can be confident the Lord would have had mercy and healed him.But Ahaziah doesn't respond this way. With arrogance, he declares hostility against Elijah and his God and demands Elijah come down. The Lord doesn't take kindly to such defiance against His servants and twice sends down fire to consume the king's messengers. The third captain sees what a jealous God has unleashed against His comrades and falls on his knees begging Elijah for mercy. Expectedly, the Lord spares his life when the poor man called and saved him from his troubles (Psa. 34:6). Here is a model response for Ahaziah and us all. In wrath, God remembers mercy. In the New Testament (Luke 9:51-56) Jesus is traveling through an unwelcoming Samaritan town. James and John asked if He wanted them to call fire down to destroy them. Jesus rebuked them, in part, because now was a time of grace. If fire was going to fall anywhere, it was going to fall on Him on Calvary just like the fire fell on the altar on Carmel. The story in 2 Kings falls between Carmel and Calvary and reminds us that, if the fire doesn't fall on the God-appointed sacrifice, it will fall on the sinner, if not on Christ for us, then on us. Another hair clad prophet with a leather belt around his waist preaching repentance (Mark 1:4) reminds us of what we ought to do. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the grace of repentance that we might know the blessing of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Rejoice that Christ willingly became the sacrifice for sinners to reconcile us to God. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 22 – Living like an atheist

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:9-10 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 1:1-8 Like father, like son. Like mother, like son. Both adages are true with regard to Ahaziah, Ahab's son and successor. Ahaziah’s significant injury left him quite unwell. Concerned about his future, he sends messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the Philistine god of Ekron and to see if he would recover. Everyone who knows the history of Israel sees the folly in this. In the days before the kings reigned, the Philistine gods were helpless before the ark of the God of Israel (1 Sam. 5). The narrator highlights the folly by mockingly changing the name of the god from Baal-zebul (Glorious Baal) to Baal-zebub (Lord of a Fly). What Ahaziah has done is plain silly. It's alsoplain sinful and this is what Elijah confronts him with. “Ahaziah,” Elijah asserts, “you are living as if God does not exist.” Ahaziah has rejected the God of Israel. That's his sin and that's his folly. God's judgement is that Ahaziah will surely die. Two things I wish to point out for you to ponder. First, who we go to in our troubles is an indication of where our trust is. Why is God often the port of last resort for many troubled Christians? Second, it is a signal kindness of the Lord that intervenes through Elijah to head off Ahaziah’s folly and sin. Ignoring the Lord doesn't make the Lord go away. This isn’t always true; sometimes He leaves us to our sin. But what a mercy when He does arrest us. How will Ahaziah respond to such kindness? How do you? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would instinctively call on the Lord in times of trouble when we are convicted of sin, concerned about the future, or otherwise in distress. Ask that the Lord would give us sensitivity so that when the Spirit convicts us that we are going the wrong way, we would respond with repentance and gratitude. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 21 – Does the Lord not see?

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” – Jonah 4:1-2 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 21:25-29 We concur with God's announcement of judgment against Ahab. He deserves to die. And so we are wholly unprepared for what happens in vs. 27 to 29. Who would have thought that Ahab would show such humility after his arrogant accusation in v. 20? But what is even more surprising is the Lord's response. He relents. He postpones judgment. Is God gullible? Is He taken in by Ahab's repentance? It is clear from the next chapter that, like many unbelievers, Ahab's repentance is like the morning dew that quickly dries up. Many people show remorse for a time before life returns to normal. And yet God shows mercy to Ahab. How could He? We feel this even more intensely because of the description of Ahab in vs. 25 to 26. It certainly shows that the Lord loves to show mercy. Does that bother you about God, the fact that He is merciful? Jonah hated it. The Pharisees did too. The natural man tends to think that mercy comes to the deserving. God here demonstrates that it doesn't. Thank God it doesn't! It certainly is instructive that Paul describes himself in the same way Ahab was described. Paul complains, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). No wonder he laments his wretchedness and lauds Christ for His redemption (Rom. 7:24-25). That is the kind of God we have, one Who delights in steadfast love (Micah 7:18). Just listen to the crucified Lord Jesus asking the Father to forgive those who clamored for His death.  Who would have thought? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would humble us so that we would see and rejoice in the fact that our salvation is ‘mercy all, immense and free’. Pray that we might point all sinners to drink from the same fountain of grace that has refreshed our souls. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 20 – Does the Lord not see?

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering- since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels... – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 21:17-24 Surely God must have seen what had happened to Naboth. Why then doesn't He do something about it? Well, He does. He sends his servant Elijah to confront Ahab and announce judgment against him. The vineyard was stolen through Jezebel’s schemes, but Elijah assesses blame to Ahab.  Ahab killed a man and seized his property (v. 19). Ahab was wicked and weak. He should have led his household in righteousness and truth. Judgment will fall on Ahab and his descendants because he sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 20). Jezebel will be judged too and become dog food for her sin (Deu. 28:26). Though it might be tempting to pay back evil to those who mistreat us, remember the Lord’s declaration, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). The wicked will get what is coming to them. God will bring it about. But what about Naboth? Why didn't God intervene? Good questions. Here are some more. Why was Peter delivered from prison and James killed? Why are Syrian Christians crucified and we have freedom? Why does your friend have cancer while you have health? Good questions. We need to trust the wisdom of God Who makes no mistakes. And we need to be confident in His goodness. Naboth was treated unjustly but God, Who saw that, will also see to it that Naboth gets his reward. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). Suggestions for prayer Remember the persecuted Christians throughout the world as they worship on this Lord’s Day and ask God to encourage them and fortify them to be faithful to the end. Pray that the Lord will teach us to trust His wisdom and goodness in times of difficulty and confusion. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 15 – The Voice of grace and judgment

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” – Matthew 11:28-30 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 19:9-18 So what does God think of Elijah's accusations? He agrees. Israel deserves judgment. When Moses was on the mount (Exodus 34) God passed by him giving Moses a revelation of Himself. Here in the mount, God reveals Himself to Elijah with four different manifestations: wind, earthquake, fire, and a low whisper. Notice that the first three are destructive, the last one is calm. What does this mean? The three correspond to the three judgments that God will unleash on His people through Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha (verses 15-17). But judgement is not God's only Word. Seven thousand will be reserved as true worshippers. Nor is judgement God's preferred Word. I get this from the contrast between the three and the one. He was not in the three, but He was in the one. That is, though God will bring judgement, he delights to show mercy. Some years later we find Elijah on another mountain with Moses and Jesus (Luke 9:28-36) discussing Jesus’ departure, His coming death, which was God’s Word of judgement against Jesus. Weren’t there also rocks splitting and an earthquake at Jesus’ death? His death was for His people’s failure to keep covenant and to worship God faithfully. And then a cloud enveloped them and a voice spoke. Was it a low whisper? The voice said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him.” Jesus is the voice we must listen to. Today His voice speaks grace and invites us to come. One day it will speak judgement and will command us to depart. Listen to Him! Now. Suggestions for prayer Adore God that the Lord Jesus was willing to take our judgement so that we might hear His voice of grace. Pray that through our personal evangelism and the ministry of Christ’s Church many would come to Jesus instead of bowing knees to idols and kissing false gods. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 14 – Covenant prosecution

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. –2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 19:9-14 The first thing to notice is that Elijah is at Horeb/Sinai on covenant business. Horeb is where God met Moses to commission him to lead Israel out of Egypt in faithfulness to His covenant promises. Horeb/Sinai is where the covenant of God with Israel was given. Horeb/Sinai is where the covenant was broken when Israel worshipped the golden calf. Elijah is at covenant mountain, a place of both grace and judgement, to transact covenant business. When God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”, God the Judge is inviting Elijah to state his case against Israel. Elijah is the covenant prosecutor laying charges against his own people for their failure to keep covenant with the LORD. Elijah doesn’t mince words: “For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword.” You might think Elijah should speak for Israel rather than against them. Moses often did. But that's not what all the prophets do, nor are they only ministers of grace. Jeremiah accuses God's people of unfaithfulness and God forbids him to intercede for them (Jeremiah 7:16). Instead, he must announce God's rejection of them (Jeremiah 7:29). Elijah's return to Mount Sinai marks the end of one era, one characterized by Divine patience, and the beginning of another, one characterized by Divine purification. The temptation for covenant people is to think God's patience lasts forever. That is simply not true which means that today is always the optimal day to seek the grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God by His Spirit would protect us from receiving the grace of God in vain and that we would do the work of God which is to believe in Him Whom He has sent. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 13 – Discouraged

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope. – Matthew 12:18-21 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 19:1-8 The ESV says in verse 3 that Elijah was afraid. The NKJV translates the same word as ‘saw’ and I think it's correct. It is not that Elijah became unhinged and ran in terror. It's closer to reality to say that Elijah determined from Jezebel's obstinacy that there wasn't much hope for change amongst God's people. Despite the people's confession, Ahab's weakness and Jezebel's opposition led Elijah to conclude that there was no sense continuing his ministry in Israel. In a quest to understand what has happened, Elijah intends to go back to where it all began, to Mount Horeb, where the covenant Lord had first met with His people. We meet up with Elijah in the desert where, exhausted and discouraged, he lies down under a broom tree and asks God to sweep him away. He feels ill-equipped for the ministry of turning the hearts of God's people back to Him. In a sense he's right. A greater Prophet than him or his fathers was needed, one Who could baptize with the Spirit. Elijah is too hard on himself. But God doesn't rebuke him and neither should we. There is something holy about his lament. Paul wept over the Jews (Romans 9:1-3) and Jesus did over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34-35). Don't you think we're too casual about the plight of millions who go to a Christless eternity? The angel ministers to Elijah in his discouragement and provides food for his continued journey to Horeb. Elijah might think he's finished but God has further plans for him just as Jesus did for the Christ-denying Peter. How tender He is to His often discouraged servants. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would encourage His ministers as they preach the gospel today with evident fruit for their labours. Ask that God would give us a concern for Christ’s honour and the plight of the lost that we might be engaged in evangelisation here and among the nations. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 12 – Effective prayer

...I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. – Daniel 9:2-3 Scripture reading: James 5:13-20 What is the secret to effective prayer, prayer that is both heard and answered? The Apostle James tells us that the power of prayer does not lie in the person praying. Elijah prayed for the rain to stop and start and God stopped and started the rain. But notice that although Elijah was a righteous man, he was a man with a nature like ours. The power in prayer is to pray what God promises. Elijah knew that God promised drought if his people abandoned him and rain if they repented (See 1 Kings 8:35-36). Elijah turned the promises into petitions. God uses means to accomplish His ends, including the prayers of His saints. Further, God delights to be asked for the things promised. We see the saints doing this throughout Scripture. For example, Daniel knew that God was going to release Israel from Exile after 70 years. As the time approached, Daniel prays to that end. We know that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD (Isaiah 11:9), and our Lord Jesus tells us to pray for the coming of God's kingdom. This is the prayer of faith. Pore over the Bible, discover God’s promises, turn them into petitions, and trust that God will be faithful to His Word. As the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us, we must ask God ‘for everything He has commanded us to ask Him’ (Lord’s Day 45, Q&A 117). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would teach us to grasp His promises so that we may pray according to His will. Remembering His promise that His Word shall not return to Him without accomplishing what He intends (Isaiah 55:11), pray that God would bless the reading and preaching of His Word tomorrow in the public gathering of His people. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 7 – Resurrection life

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... – 1 Peter 1:3 Scripture reading: Luke 7:11-17 When hundreds of years after Elijah you read of a prophet raising a dead son to life and giving him back to his mother, who is a widow, you are encouraged to link Elijah’s miracle with that story. Though written by many writers the Bible has one divine Author and through the similarities between the stories, the Holy Spirit is alerting us that 1 Kings isn’t just about Elijah but about a greater than Elijah, the great Prophet Who has arisen among us, God, Who has visited His people. That is, the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ. So, in reading about Elijah, we should learn about Jesus. In this New Testament counterpart to yesterday’s reading, we learn of Jesus’ compassion for the needy. He is willing to enter enemy territory. By touching the bier, Jesus demonstrates that He shares our uncleanness. He bears our sins and enters our death by experiencing God’s curse on the cross. He engages in conflict with the devil and triumphs. The risen Christ is the victor over sin, death, hell, and Satan. His resurrection life revives our spiritually dead souls and He takes us and presents us to the Father, saying, “See, Your son/daughter lives.” If they glorified God in Nain because they saw the Lord Jesus’ miracle as an evidence of God’s visitation, how much more ought we to glorify God for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Himself and His resurrection power that raises the spiritually dead. Surely, God has visited us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would visit us and bring to life the spiritually dead in our church and nation and praise Him that He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 6 – Revive us again

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 17:17-24 How painful! It isn’t just that her son died. That is hard enough. Some of you know this firsthand. He was taken after such a miraculous intervention that spared his life. That makes it particularly poignant. What kind of God had this widow just been introduced to? Does he sustain life just to snatch it? Even Elijah appears flummoxed by this providence (v. 20). In her confusion, she accuses God of being against her and treats this providence as punishment for her sin (v. 18). This is worth probing. Sometimes we feel this way in hard times because there actually is unconfessed sin in our life and the Holy Spirit is convicting us to repent. But at other times we feel this way because, prodded by the devil, we entertain harsh thoughts of God. More than a few Christians are always waiting for something bad to happen in their lives. They haven’t grasped sufficiently the sheer grandeur of grace. Tragedy isn’t God’s punishment for His dear children. We need to say to this woman (and each other), “Your son doesn’t die for your sin. God’s Son dies for your sin!” This is the blessing of the Lord’s Day as we are reminded again of God’s astonishing grace. God does graciously correct her misapprehension. Elijah takes the child and God’s resurrecting power revives him. Through that kindness her spiritual life revives too, and she boldly confesses the truth spoken by the man of God. This trial, like all trials sent by a gracious Father, is for the strengthening of faith. Behold the grace and wisdom of our God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would protect us from improper thoughts concerning Himself so that we would neither think Him too soft (that we continue in sin) or too hard (that we despair of forgiveness). Pray that He would keep the cross of our Lord Jesus fixed in our hearts and minds. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 5 – Marvelling at His grace

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off. – Romans 11:22 Scripture reading: Luke 4:16-30 As Jesus said, God could have sent Elijah to many widows in Israel. So why to a foreigner? Our multi-tasking God did this for at least two reasons. First, as a judgment on His own people. God’s prophet was unacceptable in his “hometown” and so he was sent to shower grace to a foreigner. He came to his own but his own did not receive him. Second, to showcase His grace. Grace comes to those who don’t seek it. Clearly, the widow wasn’t a believer. She speaks about the Lord, Elisha’s God (1 Kings 17:12). But the Lord sought her. Grace comes to enemies. Zarephath is of Sidon. Wicked Jezebel introduced the worship of the Sidonian god, Baal, in Israel and to that place and those people the Lord sends His servant and His grace. As seen in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus and the Great Commission, God directs His grace to enemy-occupied territory. Grace stops at nothing to save the elect. God used the disobedience of the chosen nation to send His prophet to save this chosen foreigner. The Jews’ rejection means salvation for the Gentiles (Romans 11:11) and the death of His Son is a price God is willing to pay to save His own. Grace comes to those who believe. The widow’s faith is evidenced by her works. She trusted the word of the prophet and “did as Elijah said.” Christ, the final Prophet, invites us to come to Him and faith does precisely that, repenting and receiving the offer of salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your hearts that you may marvel at the glory of His grace and mercy. Pray that your minister may faithfully proclaim God’s Word, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, with complete patience and teaching and that you would receive Christ as He is offered to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

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