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Daily devotional

October 4 – Not by bread alone

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone.– Deuteronomy 8:3  Scripture reading: 1 Kings 17:7-16 What an encouragement the dried-up brook must have been to Elijah. God was fulfilling His promise of withholding dew and rain! It also meant that God was going to provide for Elijah some other way. He reaches Zarephath and, encountering the widow, he instructs her to bring him some water. As she leaves to comply he asks for a morsel of bread too. This unleashes an outpouring of her pitiable story. She has nothing baked, little flour, little oil, few sticks, and little time left to live. You might think that Elijah might respond with something like, “I’m sorry. Yes, I understand. I’ll ask someone else. Just the water will be fine.” You might even think that would be the kind and sensitive thing to do. But he doesn’t. He intensifies the request. Do what you are going to do “but first make a little cake of it and bring it to me.” Does it need to be said that God’s request should have given her no hesitation? If obedience meant that yesterday’s supper was her last meal she should have given a morsel of bread to the man of God. God doesn’t ask for our leftovers or what we can conveniently part with. He demands our all to be given without hesitation. But notice the Lord’s gentleness. He wins her obedience with a sandwich of assurance. Top slice: ‘Do not fear.’ Bottom slice: ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not empty . . .’ And every day thereafter was a reminder of the faithfulness of the Lord and His Word. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to teach us how generous and gracious He is, even in His demands, so that we might trust Him for His daily provision of grace and cheerfully give Him whatever He asks of us.

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

September 29 – Happy in God, because of God

Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! – Psalm 144:15 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 In our Psalm, David began by extolling the LORD. He ends exactly the same way. Through the twists and turns of the Psalm, as in life, there were challenges discussed and blessings rejoiced in. The constant through it all is the blessedness of our God and of the people who serve and follow Him. This is again the day to lift up praise to God for Who He is! The Lord’s Day is the day every reason for happiness comes together to be focused on praise to the “Father of lights” (James 1:17) Who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Are you joyful today? God is the source of your joy. He is God, the LORD! Given who David was, it should not have surprised us that he thought a lot about war. But so should we. We struggle against evil enemies in this life. Knowing Who God is, we should be even less surprised that the Psalm is ending with praise. We are blessed with eternal life and none can take away what the Lord has given. This, then, is our “state.” We have been endowed with eternal blessing and joy from God through Jesus Christ. The knowledge of God, by His Word, works to remind us that He is “…eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good”! Happy are the people who know Him – we are so blessed. Shout His praise this day! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to make this a Lord’s Day to remember His goodness and to find joy in His faithfulness. Ask Him, He is able! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 28 – Walking in agreement with life and peace

That our oxen may be well-laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets. – Psalm 144:14 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 The Heidelberg Catechism at Lord’s Day 7, gives us a description of true faith which includes, as a basic component part, knowledge. Knowledge is vital to faith. But it is also vital to the assurance of faith as Lord’s Day 32 explains the necessity of good works. That is to say, the richer our knowledge of God, the deeper will be our certainty that all is well with our soul. This truth counsels us as to how we “read” or interrupt the situations on-going around us. Do we take from these situations lessons as to Who God is and who we are? Again, do you know yourself to be a dependent creature, rather than an independent one? Knowledge of ourselves as needy will cause us to overflow with thanksgiving when we have peaceful streets and safety in home, at hearth. That knowledge of who we are as needy people builds faith. Faith has a fruit called contentment which we all need very much. The Psalm is ending on this high-note of peacefulness that should lead to contentment. But what do we do if we don’t sense or feel such contentment? Do you know the God of peace through Jesus Christ? Have you confessed your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation? If so, are you constantly thinking about how much God loves you and how He sustains, protects and provides all your needs? These are things we will finish with in the last two days of our devotional. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a moment or two in this day to quietly ask yourself if you trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and all else you need. Pray for wisdom to answer truthfully. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 27 – God creates civilization

That our oxen may be well-laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets. – Psalm 144:14 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 We have now read Psalm 144 around 27 times. Have you come to know and appreciate the Psalm? God makes Himself known in His Word, including Psalm 144. He is the help to the warrior and as this verse shows to us, God is the One Who creates society. For society to survive and thrive, basic components must be in place, namely, life, safety and peace. These are what we find coming from God’s own mind. Those words – life, safety and peace – describe the garden of Eden before the fall. That former beauty is hard – no, impossible for us to imagine. But this joyful truth comes at the end of the Psalm as the postlude to the victorious end of the war. When violence and warfare have ended, joy will fill the vacuum. Why? Because this is Who our God is. He is the God of life. Is it not curious that on Resurrection Sunday morning Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener (or was she right?) We can only begin in this life to understand what the New Heavens and New Earth will be like, but surely there will be no breaking in or going out, no outcry in the streets. All of life will be marked by safety and peace, primary components of joy. Do you yearn for what God yet has in store for you, for us all? Take a moment to ponder how knowing God now prepares us for what is to come! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to prepare your heart and mind for the glory to come. Ask Him to enable you to see something of His character in the joys we experience in this life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 26 – Handling the blessing

That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands, And ten thousands in our fields; – Psalm 144:13 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings and see what God has done!” Wow, what a long list! As we have been reading this Psalm each day it may have begun to occur to you that the Psalm began with war, but ends with peace. Christ is the centre of the Psalm and His work on the cross – as the One Who allowed abuse to be heaped on Him – brings the peace needed, even while in this world remnants of warfare persist. We are doing “mop-up” work. The warring is ending. So also, the glorying is beginning. Glorification, that is, has already begun to break into this fallen world. One way we see this is the multitude of good gifts our God gives to us. We are richly supplied! This begs a question: How do we handle these blessings? Should we build bigger barns (or multiple thousand square foot homes with multiple car garages)? For what purpose, to what end does God supply His people, many times quite richly? Does money last? Riches wither and supply dwindles. How should we hold what we have? Ask Job. Loosely. Let’s be open-handed Christians. Once we are sure we are providing for our family and our congregation and paying all we owe, we need to be givers. Are you a generous Christian, or stingy? Believers, we give as a testimony to the God Who gave His Son, His only Son for us. Be generous. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to search your heart and reveal the ways you could be more generous. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 21 – Delivered by God to the worst attacks

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood – Psalm 144:11 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 A few days ago we saw that these exact words (with one difference – see September 13) appear twice in this Psalm. While repetition in the Old Testament Hebrew is normal, repetition of a negative appeal is not. This devotional exercise has been a practice of repetition because God repeats in the Bible what He wants emphasized. These words are important to Him. He knows we need to have these words pressed into our hearts. This is what a kind and loving Father does. Knowing what we most need, He brings it to our attention twice. Take note of this. God wants us to know how He feels about what will happen to His beloved Son that day of His unjust trial and crucifixion. Those who will cast votes and cause nails to pierce His perfect Son will speak lying words and will be the epitome of falsehood. God wants us to know this. There is another reason we need to know this and we will look at that tomorrow, but first, know God. What we can learn about God today is that He wants you to know His love by what His Son endured for us. The shame and agony of the cross were but one aspect of His suffering – He also was betrayed, even by His closest friends. How He suffered, how terrible His grief. We are so blessed to be able to know Him well, for this is the Father’s desire – that we know and love His Son. Praise Him! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you something of Jesus Christ in your Bible reading every day. He is the finest gold and richest treasure we can ever mine in the pages of Scripture. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 20 – I need to be saved

The One Who gives salvation to kings, Who delivers David His servant from the deadly sword.– Psalm 144:10 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 What does it mean to be saved? King David faced enemies many times, not just once. Do we get into the mindset that “once saved, always saved” means I have no need to be saved continually? The Apostle Paul didn’t teach that. Actually, in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit brings further clarity to the believer about salvation by using the past tense, the present tense and the future tense. At 2 Timothy 1:9 we are told that God…has saved us and called us with a holy calling. 1 Corinthians 1:18 reminds us that we are those who…are being saved. And 1 Corinthians 3:15 tells us that even weak believers…will be saved. Much more could be shown to prove these points. The question is, who do you know yourself to be? Have you been saved? Are you being saved? Will you be saved? Contemplating these questions reveals what you believe about God and about yourself. Again, what does it mean to be saved? What have you said or done this week that required “saving”? Have you been forgiven? Of course! But did you ask for forgiveness? Do you apply the value of Christ’s work to each and every sinful failure you are aware of? We won’t know all our sins. There are too many to know – but the ones we do know, we should seek forgiveness for and praise Him when we again remember that we have been delivered. What a glorious God we serve! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you today how full and rich is the work of Jesus Christ in your life. Ask Him to enable you to truly be thankful for His salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 19 – God saves

The One Who gives salvation to kings, Who delivers David His servant from the deadly sword.– Psalm 144:10 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Do you struggle with sin? Is that a ridiculous question? Most, if not all of us would say that we do struggle with sin. But what do we mean by that and why is that an important question in connection with this verse? King David says here that God gives salvation, delivers David and that deliverance is from a danger which would otherwise cause death. Stop and ponder that. Are you faced with death? At Romans 8:36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to the effect that believers “face death all day long.” Do you believe that? Is sin and temptation that “deadly serious” that you look to God to rescue you from certain destruction? How would that frame of mind improve your appreciation for Who God is? We need to go back to this question again – Who is God? Well, He is the deliverer. He saves. God brings us out of death. He gives us life hour by hour, day after day. This is Who He is and what He does. Professing this, our frame of reference for understanding who we are is altered – improved. God keeps us safe, not we ourselves. God delivers us more than we make choices that keep us safe.  We put on the full armor, but it is the “armor of God” that we put on. He saves! We need our thinking sanctified so that our behaving will follow in line. God is our deliverer, He saves! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to remind you that you are far weaker than you realize. Ask Him this, not to make less of you, but to make more of Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 18 – So why sing?

I will sing a new song to You, O God; On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, – Psalm 144:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 David is here responding to grace. This is why we sing. Songs of praise come forth from our hearts through our mouths because we do desire to honour, thank, extol and exalt the God Who has given so much to us. We remember, however, that this is a Psalm of warfare. David was a warrior king. The praise he offers to God through music is a response to military victory. God is the deliverer. He brought His people through battles and wars and they responded with songs of acclaim and thanksgiving. This makes the Psalm new to us again. Our battles are not with ‘flesh and blood’ but with spiritual forces of evil. Are our battles less important and less significant than were David’s and other Old Testament saints? We know enough to say, “No, our battles are not less important.” Neither are they less severe and challenging. When you know God has preserved you during a time of temptation or in the midst of a spiritual battle, do you feel like praising Him? Do you consider a song of adoration and thanksgiving? We need to ask questions of our own heart about how we respond to having been delivered. What I mean is, though we would never criticize King David for singing a song of praise to God for a military victory against an enemy of the covenant people…would we be very slow to sing songs of praise for deliverance out of temptation? If so, why? Praise God with Music! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you two or three ways He has delivered you in the past days so that you will know why praising Him with music is a blessing instead of a duty. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 13 – Divine activity

Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, From the hand of foreigners, – Psalm 144:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 There is an ancient heresy which has plagued regular Christians for ages. This heresy espoused by high-brow academics, who are sure they know better, is also sometimes accepted by us regular Christians, where it would be termed an error. There is an issue we get wrong about how God acts. This very old teaching is called Deism. Deism says that God made all things and then decided to stay “out of our business.” He is sovereign, but totally uninvolved in the affairs of “we the people.” But sometimes we Christians act like that old lie is the truth. This verse is a comforting correction to that ancient error. God acts! God reaches down from above and pulls us out of the mess in which we find ourselves. He enters our world of trouble. God must or we are doomed! Into the quiet of Bethlehem, the heavens above were torn open and the angelic army choir poured into our world, singing of the arrival of the promised messianic Babe. Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace! What kind of peace do you need today? His hand is there. Do you need to be delivered out of “great waters”? Are you drowning in sorrow, in debt, in self-pity? God is still able to take hold of you because He decided to involve Himself in our affairs. Praise Him today for Jesus Christ Who entered to save. O, how God must come down. Then we are saved! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to reveal to you how important and significant to your daily sanctification is the fact that He involves Himself in your day to day choices. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 12 – Learning to be a child again

Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them. – Psalm 144:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Once upon a time you cried out to your parent. You might be older – 80’s or 90’s, but you might still remember a day long ago when you cried out to your dad or mom. Were you hurt? Did you get lost? Maybe you woke up from a terrible nightmare. But you cried out – you needed help! And you probably never considered the possibility that your parent would ignore you. You expected to be answered! Here is King David, the most powerful man in the kingdom with guards and fighting men all around him, but he cries out to God. He knows that only God can rescue him. Is this our practical experience of faith? Is this why we pray, how we pray? Those two things we most need to know – Who God is and who we are – what do we learn about who we are in this verse? Do we learn that we need help? Do you know that you need to be delivered and do you think about it most every day? The Heidelberg Catechism tells us that we must know how great our sins and misery are…why? When your child acts out and sins blatantly, do you discipline him? Why? Because you want him to learn. So too with knowing our sins. We need to remember that God alone saves us. And in the daily struggles, too, God must rescue us. Is this why you pray? Is this how you pray? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you that being a child in His care is a position of peace and joy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 11 – Asking God to fight our battles

Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them. – Psalm 144:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Things are serious now. The Psalmist, King David is asking God to personally involve Himself in David’s conflict and not in a defensive or neutral way. David wants God to fight. Do you think God would fight? What kind of God is He? One way to think through an answer is to consider what a godly earthly father would do for his children. Would a good dad fight to save his child? The answer is obvious, right? Will God fight? In the context of the Psalm, the battle is raging. Man is weak and the war intense. God must fight. Is this not the whole story of the Bible? Man fought a battle at the beginning, in the garden which impacted all of history. He fought a fight with the grand liar and he lost. God had to fight. This is why Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, went into the wilderness to confront Satan. God had to fight. The only hope we have is God fighting our battles for us. Now we begin to understand. The Psalm is beginning to make more sense. The battle is the Lord’s! This is the way to start our day and in remembering this, we have real hope. God must fight. Today, this day, all day, God must shoot His arrows and destroy our enemies, applying the victory of His Son to our daily battles. Praise God and thank Him for fighting for you! Suggestions for prayer It's obvious, right? Ask God to fight your battles today. When you notice that He has conquered for you, stop and thank Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 10 – Will we be consumed?

Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. – Psalm 144:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 This verse is impressive. God speaks to us here about Himself. He wants us to know that were He to come down, the solid, rock-hard elements of this earth would erupt into fire and smoke. What about us? How could we survive being in the presence of this glorious and majestic, thrice holy God? Well, on our own we couldn’t. The entire Old Covenant system made this clear. The blood of animals was shed to point to cleansing from sin so that sinful man could be near to God. Yet, almost no people ever entered in the presence of God. The High Priest could enter, but only one day each year and again, only by shed blood. The glorious reality is, this verse tells us about what we have in Jesus Christ. All who believe on Him have everlasting life and will remain near to God for all of eternity, in His presence, but we have already now been granted full access into the holy of holies by the new and living way of the shed blood of Jesus. Will God consume sin? Yes, but that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross. The Father poured out His wrath for our sins on the cross and Jesus “took” (absorbed) that punishment for us. Here is where knowing God and knowing who we are is so important. We have come to know that we need a Saviour. Trust Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to reveal who you are and Who He is so that you know clearly your need for Jesus Christ. No other prayer is more important. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 5 – The condescending mercy of God

LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man that You are mindful of him? – Psalm 144:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 There is a perfect contrast displayed in this verse. This contrast is unlike any other contrast in all of creation. This is the contrast between the Creator and the creature. Every other contrast you could mention has less “distance” to cross, less difference to wrestle with than the Creator-creature contrast. God, the LORD has no need for anything. Man the creature is completely needy. God is entirely complete in Himself, we are fully dependent on Him for everything we have. In this verse the Psalmist asks why does the God Who needs nothing spend any effort, time or resource on us humans. This is an excellent question! Mercy is the answer. God is merciful. Do you remember from the introduction to this devotional that we are striving to know well two things: Who God is and who we are? This verse tells us by a question that seems to have no good answer, that God is merciful. Otherwise, what possible answer could we expect to the question of this verse? Since God is everything, what is man? Man is nothing, that’s what. Since God has all power, what power do we humans have? None. Since all life comes from God’s work and good pleasure, what life do we humans have on our own? None. Since salvation from sins comes from God’s plan in sending His Son to save us, what claim and authority over our salvation do we have? None. What is God like? He is merciful. Believe. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you greater clarity and trust in Who He says He is in the Bible. Ask Him to give you a greater interest in knowing Him each time you read the Bible. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 4 - Taking possession of what God gives

My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. – Psalm 144:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 We noticed yesterday that the structure and exact words of the Psalm are important. God determines exactly which Words He wants to teach His truth. In this second verse of the Psalm, there are personal pronouns of covenant significance “attached” to each comment about an attribute or description of God. In other words, God is not just “a” fortress, rather He is “MY” fortress. These personal pronouns are exactly what God wants to say. He says that He is the fortress or high tower or shield for His people. Do you see what that means?! “Since God is for us, who could be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Our personal application of this verse goes like this – since God sent His only begotten Son to save us (cf., John 3:16), He also promises to keep us safe, out of harm's way and ultimately safe out of hell. No enemy can take us down. We need this confidence because, as a latter part of the Psalm will show us, we don’t always “feel” well, safe, protected and peaceful. We need to believe it and tell our feelings to trust God’s Word. Have you had times in your life and experiences when your emotions got the best of you? Have you experienced fear and anxiety that has no realistic explanation? When we feel like that, we need a “High Tower.” God is our refuge and our strength (Psalm 46).  Ask this question: On this day is God MY mighty fortress? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to remind you that He is able to do all we need and more! (Ephesians 3:20) This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 3 – My powerful fortress of safety

My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. – Psalm 144:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Since you are reading through Psalm 144 every day you will soon start to learn the structure of the Psalm. You will note its rhythm, cadence and poetic features. You will notice that certain words and phrases are significant in this Psalm. One such structural clue is that most of the verses begin with Who God is or what He has done. Verse 2 is no different. Seven statements about God fill up this verse. Can you find all seven? God is “my lovingkindness…fortress…high tower…deliverer…shield…One in whom I take refuge…and the One Who subdues people under me.” Seven aspects of a profession of faith in the nature and attributes of God are found here. God is the entire reason for any confidence we might have. He is full of power, able to protect us. We are weak and prone to all sorts of weaknesses. God is able to put us out of the reach of trials, disasters and mortal enemies. We are easily overcome both physically and emotionally. What matters the most is do we know the Salvation found only in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we safe from all alarm, hiding in the arms of Jesus Christ? To know anything about this world or about yourself you must first be able to give a concrete answer to this one question: Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Saviour – is He your High Tower? What joy to know that God is the unchanging source of our well-being! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you greater faith and confidence about His ability to keep His people safe from all alarm. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 2 - My hands?

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle – Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Sometimes we read Bible verses or passages and are encouraged at how nice it sounds. The Bible can bring peace and joy and relief and comfort – especially in knowing our sins are forgiven when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. But it is also kind of easy to remain at a distance from the words, phrases and truths in the Bible. This verse is personal. Whoever you are as you read this, whatever you have known, no matter what your job or place in life is, God is training your hands and your fingers to fight. Maybe your fingers have knit blankets. Perhaps your hands have typed on a computer keyboard. Maybe your fingers often run through the soft hair of your grandchild. Each action we just listed is warfare. These hand-crafted items given in love defeat the lies of the enemy that people only, always hate one another. Word processing programs can advance gospel truth. Parents and grandparents know they are on the front lines of the battle. Whoever you are, whatever you do, God is training you for the battle. Yet, we know that “hands” and “fingers” in this verse is “part of the whole.” God is using His Word, corporate worship and Christian experiences to train you for the warfare of the Christian life. As you read this Psalm, think of your responsibility and your personal involvement in the difficult battle of the Christian life. Have you fought before? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you how important it is to be aware of the battle. Ask Him to reveal to you that it is because of this battle that He had to send His Son, Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church(URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

August 28 – Divine faithfulness

“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45 Scripture reading: Joshua 21:43-45 One commentator called the three verses of our passage today “the jugular vein for the book of Joshua.” So important are these truths! Here is the theological heart of the Book of Joshua. Verse 43 mentions the land. It nicely summarizes chapters 13 through 21 of this book. God had promised Abraham that one day his descendants would inherit all the land of Canaan. This verse testifies that God has kept His promise to the patriarch. Verse 44 speaks of Israel’s enemies. It summarizes chapters 1 through 12 and all the battles and conflicts found there. God had promised Joshua in Chapter 1 that not one of the occupants of Canaan would be able to stand against them and this verse testifies that God has kept that promise as well. Then verse 45 reassures Israel that as they settle into this new land they can trust in the Lord to keep His promise to watch over them and to bless them. Because Israel’s God has proven Himself to be persistent in keeping His promises, they can walk forward confidently into the future with Him. Because He is mighty, majestic and merciful“not a word failed” of what He had said in the past, and so, therefore “all will come to pass” in the future as well. This is the same message that we must hold to today. God’s Word is truth. As you too settle into life, or face conflicts and battles, never forget that your mighty, majestic and merciful God is walking with you and seeing you through. We have Jesus Christ, THE Commander of the Lord’s army who has fought the battle for us and has proven Himself victorious. Trust in Him. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being mighty, majestic and merciful. Thank Him for being faithful to His covenant promises. Express your gratitude to Christ for His finished work in your salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 27 – divine sojourners

“So the children of Israel gave to the Levites from their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their common-lands.” – Joshua 21:3 Scripture reading: Joshua 21:1-42 As the land was being divided in chapters 13 through 19, it was often mentioned that the tribe of Levi would receive no specific place because “their portion was the LORD.” They were God’s special servants with no earthly home. As such, the Levites foreshadow our life as God’s people on earth. This world is not our home, but we still have worldly needs. The Levites were set aside by God for special ministry, but they still needed to eat. So they come to Joshua in chapter 21 and ask for “cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock” (vs. 2); essentially, they needed a roof over their heads and a pasture for their animals. This tells us that we are to pursue the things of God with all our heart, but we also need to pay our bills! Our Heavenly Father knows this. He supplies all of our eternal and earthly needs. He calls us to be faithful in our service to Him wherever He has us sojourn in this world. Notice too how the Lord provides for the earthly needs of the Levites through the glad giving of the different tribes. Forty-eight cities are given for the Levites out of the inheritance that God has just given to the twelve tribes. This is their “tithe” given out of what God has just given to them. May we as God’s people hold loosely to earthly things. May we give gladly to God from the riches He has given to us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for all His rich gifts given to you, both eternal and earthly. Ask Him to supply you with an eternal perspective which views earthly things in a way that honours Him. Thank Him for supplying all of our needs in the riches of Christ Jesus, our Lord. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 26 – Divine justice

“The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses”.’” – Joshua 20:1-2 Scripture reading: Joshua 20 In the ancient world the rule of “an eye for an eye” prevailed. Whenever an injustice was done, an “avenger of blood” was appointed to make sure that someone paid for the crime. With the cities of refuge, God sets a higher standard of justice for Israel. Anyone who killed a man accidentally could flee to the nearest city of refuge and be safe until a preliminary hearing could be held (verse 4). He is to be presumed innocent until a trial before his peers can take place (verse 6). If the fugitive’s story does not stand up, he is given to the avenger of blood for punishment. If the killing was indeed accidental, then the man-slayer would be allowed to live, but he had to remain in the city away from family and friends as punishment for not properly safeguarding his neighbour’s life. Only upon the “death of the high priest” was he free to return back to his home. Two truths are seen here. First, our God is the God of life! Because man is created in the image of God, all life matters to Him and should be protected by us. Second, is imputation. In God’s eyes, the High Priest’s death substitutes for the offender’s death, and he is allowed to go home. This foreshadows the work of our Great High Priest. God looks upon Jesus’ death and credits us with righteousness, so that we are allowed to go “home” into the presence of our Heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that in His Divine Justice He looks upon our Substitute and imputes our sin to Him and His righteousness to us. Ask that God’s justice would be known more and more across this land. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 25 – The deceitfulness of sin

“And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.” – Joshua 17:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 15:63, 16:10 and 17:12-13 In direct contrast to the whole-hearted faithfulness of Caleb seen in yesterday’s passage, these next chapters of Joshua testify to the whole-hearted failure of the tribes of Israel to follow the command of God and totally remove unbelievers from the land. In fact, with each description of failure, the sin gets worse. In chapter 15, Judah allows the pagans in one city to remain alive. In chapter 16, Ephraim also allows the sinners of one city to remain alive and they turned them into “forced laborers.” This is worse because if Ephraim had the power to turn the pagans into slaves, then they surely had the power to put them to death. In chapter 17, Manasseh allows the unbelievers in many cities found in “three hilly regions” (vs. 11) to remain alive. In this growing denigration of God’s will, in this half-hearted devotion to the Lord, in this purposeful sin and rebellion, we see an Old Testament picture … of us! Here, sad to say, is our own less than stellar life of faith and obedience. In God’s Church today, the Ten Commandments will be read. This practice is done because so easily we tell ourselves that “I’m not so bad. There are worse people than me. I am pretty good.” But God’s holy law and these verses of Scripture tell us the truth: we are great sinners. Thankfully, the Lord has sent us an even greater Saviour! Look in faith to Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin that hides within you. Pray for an ever increasing awareness of how great a Saviour we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray that around the world today the great good news of the Gospel of our Lord would go forth with power. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 20 – He left nothing undone

“As the LORD had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.” – Joshua 11:15 Scripture reading: Joshua 11:1-15 Because they forget that the Bible is God’s one account of His history of redemption, many view the Book of Joshua only as a tale of gruesome battles. We must see instead the sovereign Lord preparing for His Messiah: preparing an earthly place and a human line through which His Son can enter into time and space to redeem the elect. Joshua 11 records the battles leading to the complete conquest of the Promised Land, ensuring that God’s covenant of redemption can be fulfilled. This time, the pagan kings of the northern half of the land of Canaan assemble to fight against the Lord. Once again the Lord proves that the seed of the Serpent cannot stand against the Seed of the Woman. Four times, in verses 8 through 14, the complete annihilation of the Canaanites is emphasized (verses 8, 11, 12, and 14). Many consider this to be unnecessary, unloving and intolerant. This attitude reveals our ignorance of the Battle between Good and Evil that rages all around us. It shows we do not understand the holiness of God or our own sinfulness. This extermination of evil has nothing to do with love or tolerance, but with Divine justice against human sin. Joshua dispensed this justice and “left nothing undone.” As such he foreshadows the true Warrior King of Israel, Jesus Christ. He too “left nothing undone” when on the Cross He fought the final Battle with sin. Look in faith to this warrior King Who has fought so completely for you. Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility as you boldly enter God’s throne room of grace. Thank Him that you are part of His covenant of redemption. Praise Him for both His mercy and His justice. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 19 – The sun stood still

“The LORD heeded the voice of a man.” – Joshua 10:14 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:12-15 When they come to this passage, liberal Bible scholars focus all their attention on explaining why we no longer need to believe that the sun literally stood still for Joshua. Don’t listen to that lie. Of course we believe this literally! The same God Who created the sun and moon and Who hung them in space is fully capable of stopping them in space if He so chooses. If your “god” cannot do miracles like this, then you do not believe in the true God; and if you do not believe in the true God, then your fate will be no different than these five Canaanite kings. So our focus is not on whether God can make the sun stand still; of course He can! Our focus is on Joshua’s prayer and how the Almighty God of all Heaven and Earth would choose to “heed the voice of a man” (vs. 14). For think on this: this same God Who controls the spinning of this earth and the rising of the sun each day; Who rules every nation and controls every event of human history; this same sovereign, holy and majestic God STOPS EVERYTHING the moment He hears you call out His name! He answers the deepest sighing of your soul. He bends low to hear the weakest stammering of your hurting heart. Everything else takes a back seat when God hears you call His name, and He takes action on your behalf. Find comfort in the fact that God answers your prayers. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His loving heart shown to you. Thank Him for hearing your prayer. Ask Him to bring you His comfort through the working of His Spirit within you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 18 – The battle belongs to the Lord

“And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’” – Joshua 10:8 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:1-11 and 16-27 With Israel’s defeat of Jericho and Ai, and with the treaty made with Gibeon, a military wedge has been driven east to west through the middle of the land of Palestine, dividing it north from south. The five kings of the south decide it is time to work together to put up a united front. This will be the first time that Israel’s army will face any kind of organized resistance and this offers the devil a perfect time to plant the seeds of doubt and fear into the minds of God’s people: “Will we be able to take on such a large number of highly trained soldiers? We are just shepherds and herdsmen. They live in fortified cities; we just live in tents. Sure, God helped us in the past, but how do we know He will help us in the future?” How easily Satan messes with our hearts and minds, and how easily we let him. Knowing our weaknesses, the LORD comes to Joshua and gives the comforting promise of verse 8, “Not a man of them shall stand before you.” God repeats here what He has often promised before, that He is fighting this battle for them. He goes before them laying waste all who stand in opposition to Him. We must simply believe and follow after Him. On this Lord’s Day, place yourself under the preached Word of God; for when doubt comes, it will be God’s Word that sees you through and brings you comfort. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to make you a diligent student of His Word. Ask Him to make His Word powerful and effective as it goes forth today. Thank Him for fighting your battle against sin in Jesus Christ His Son. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 17 – The Gibeonite deception

“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.” – Joshua 9:14 Scripture reading: Joshua 9 Israel easily succumbs to the deceit and trickery of the Gibeonites because they rely upon their own understanding and do “not ask counsel of the Lord.” These false ambassadors deceive Israel visually (vs. 4-6), verbally (vs. 9-10), and psychologically (vs. 11). This last deception was the most effective of all because it addressed Israel’s ego. When the Gibeonites confess, “We will be your servants.” they were saying, “You are better than us! We want to be more like you! You are great!” The devil still uses these deceptions today to great effect, especially the third, where he appeals to our natural love of self. Who doesn’t like their ego stroked? Their self-esteem built up? Israel falters because they do not seek out the will of God. They evaluate the situation only through their own eyes and convince themselves that they can handle this on their own. They tell themselves, “This is an easy decision. We’ve got this! The Lord can just relax. We don’t need His help. If something really big comes up, then we will consult Him. But for now, we’re good.” The devil is no less subtle and deceitful today. He “masquerades as an angel of light.” Are you fully aware of his tricks? Do you know who your enemies are? Daily we must work on walking ever closer to our God through Bible reading and prayer. For the closer we are to the LORD the easier we will see the deception that is all around us. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for spiritual eyes so that you can see the temptations that surround you. Ask Him to guard and guide your mind and heart. Thank Him for His presence and power that we have in Jesus our Lord. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 12 – Judgment begins

“Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” – Joshua 5:15 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 This second main section of Joshua emphasizes judgment, destruction and death; this troubles many modern readers. Yet, it is a section that rings out with praise to Almighty God! Yes, God is praised even in the destruction of these pagan tribes. Such judgment shocks us today only because we have lost sight of God’s holiness and the sinfulness of sin. Eternal punishment testifies to God’s holiness and how much He hates sin. We prefer a “kinder, gentler” god, one more like a soft and sweet marshmallow who wouldn’t hurt a flea. But that is not the God of Holy Scripture. As Biblical Christians, we are to understand the judgment and destruction seen in Joshua as a foreshadowing of the LORD’s promised final judgment that awaits this earth at the end of time. We must remember how God promises to send to eternal destruction all who reject Him, while He also promises to welcome into eternal glory all who respond to Him in faith and repentance. This is why “the Commander of the LORD’s army” reveals Himself to Joshua, to remind Joshua Who he ultimately serves. This “Commander” is none other than Jesus in pre-incarnate form. He tells Joshua, “The place where you stand is holy.” What makes a place on earth “holy,” but that this “Man” Who is standing there with Joshua is Himself holy! This reminds us that the Lord goes with us too as we go out into the world. Go in His strength and serve your holy God today. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His holiness. Ask Him to reveal to you even more of your own sinfulness. Ask the Lord to help you serve Him with all your heart. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 11 – Covenant renewal

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” – Joshua 5:9 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:1-12 This passage marks the end of the first main section of the Book of Joshua. From here the wars and battles begin. More significantly for Israel, however, this passage also verifies that her desert wanderings are now done. The divine judgment against that first generation of unbelieving Israel is fulfilled. The final obstacle of the Jordan River has been miraculously overcome and the Promised Land lies before them. But wait! Covenant renewal is needed before covenant blessings can come. Two essential Old Testament memorials that God had given His Church need to be restored: circumcision and Passover. Circumcision was God’s covenantal sign first given to Abraham in order to mark out the people who belonged to the Lord from those who belonged to the world while Passover was God’s memorial meal that testified to God’s redemption of His people from slavery and sin. So these testified to God’s claiming and saving of His chosen people. These truths must be professed by the people before the Promised Land can be enjoyed by the people. In church today you will be confronted by a very close correlation of these same two memorials: the baptismal font reminding you of how God’s mark of possession has also been placed upon you, setting you apart from the world. And the communion table reminds us of the crucified body and shed blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. These truths need to be professed by us before the Promised Land of Glory can ever be enjoyed by us. Suggestions for prayer Dwell on what these twin New Testament memorials mean to you as a follower of Christ. Pray that through His preached Word heard today, your heart, mind and soul would be filled with a greater appreciation for the redemption found in Jesus Christ alone. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 10 – A sign among you

“That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’” – Joshua 4:6 Scripture reading: Joshua 4 A quick reading of Joshua 4 would have us wonder why a pile of rocks is worthy of our consideration. Why all this fuss about 12 stones? The answer is that because weare all too forgetful concerning spiritual things, we too need “a sign among us,” a memorial testifying of the great and awesome work of Almighty God. Each generation of Israelites, when they walked past this memorial set up along the Jordan River, was to remember how mighty, majestic and merciful their God was. This teaching was to be passed down to each succeeding generation as well, so that all who follow would praise their God aright. God gives His New Testament Church such memorials as well. Tomorrow, as you attend church services, you will undoubtedly see a baptismal font and a communion table at the front of the sanctuary. Most churches will also have a cross displayed, either inside the sanctuary or outside on the front of your building. These are to be “a sign among you.” The water of baptism symbolizes the forgiveness of sin. The bread and the wine testify to how that forgiveness was obtained for us in the spent body and shed blood of our Lord. The cross is not just a mere decoration for the front of the church; it is the throne where the Lamb of God absorbed the wrath of God as our substitute. Because our hearts so easily forget, we too need these memorials to be “a sign among us.” Suggestions for prayer Think deeply about each of these signs among us. Praise God for giving us each of these “memorial stones.” Ask God to strengthen you that you may always remember and never forget what He has done for you in Jesus Christ your Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 9 – The marvelous miracle

"The waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away." – Joshua 3:16 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:14-17 Three truths need to be seen so that we understand just how marvellous this miracle was. The first is that God brings His people to the Jordan when it is at flood stage (vs. 15)! Humanly speaking this was the worst possible time to try to cross this river. Normally, the Jordan is no more than 90 feet across and the deepest hole only about 12 feet deep. But when the snows in northern Palestine melt, the Jordan becomes a raging torrent that is up to 30 feet deep and three-quarters of a mile across! This torrent is what the people must now cross. The second truth is that this is the torrent that God “rose in a heap very far away” (vs. 16). Imagine what the people witnessed as they watched the ark approach the raging water: as the lead priest enters the water … there is no water for him to enter! The hand of God pushes back the raging torrent so that it stands “in a heap!” Thirdly, and just as amazingly, not only is there no water for the priests to step into, but the muddy river bottom … is not muddy! The people and all their possessions pass over on “dry ground” (vs. 17). With this marvellous miracle, the people are assured that this endeavour of conquering the Promised Land is truly of the Lord. The LORD God Almighty goes before them and will watch over them. As God’s child, let this truth comfort your heart today. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He is a miracle working God. Praise Him for working the miracle of grace within your own heart. Ask Him for His guidance and blessing in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 4 – Turning promise into possession

“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” - Joshua 1:11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 Finally, God is delivering on His promise made years earlier to Abraham, to give the land of Palestine to Abraham’s descendants. Because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), Palestine can be given and taken as God sees fit. Canaan does not belong to the pagan tribes who now reside there any more than it does to the tribes of Israel who will soon reside there. For now, God has decided to give this land as His gift to Israel. Yet the LORD does not just drop this gift into Israel’s lap! Rather, He commands His people to cross over and lay hold of His promise. They are to fight for this land! Work to claim God’s gift. The people are expected to turn promise into possession. Notice the commands given them in verse 11: “prepare provisions,” “cross over,” “go in to possess.” God’s promises often come with expectations. You may have observed this in church today. In the sacraments, God’s great covenantal promise is put before us in picture form. The water of baptism and the bread and wine of communion picture for us the promised salvation of Jesus Christ. Yet, with that promise comes expectations. We must “cross over the Jordan”, as it were, and take possession of the promise. For water, bread and wine do not save. Only Jesus saves! God commands us to respond in repentance and faith to the promise pictured in the sacramental elements, for salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the salvation found in Jesus Christ. Repent of all your sins. Ask the Lord for a greater measure of His Holy Spirit so that you would look in faith to Jesus Christ alone. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 3 – Prophetic foreshadowing

“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” – Joshua 1:6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:3-5 As we study Joshua, we must remember the Reformed hermeneutical principle of “prophetic foreshadowing”; namely, that throughout the Old Testament God reveals types and shadows of greater spiritual realities. “The Promised Land” is one of these types. In Joshua the people fight for land in Canaan, but this earthly land is only a shadow of the spiritual land of promise that awaits us in Christ. The “inheritance” in our text foreshadows the greater inheritance won by Christ. Peter uses “inheritance” as a kind of theological shorthand for all the spiritual blessings that become ours through faith (1 Peter 1:3-5). The most common foreshadowing found here is Joshua himself as a type of Christ. Not only do they share the same name, Ya-shua in Hebrew, Jesu in Greek, both mean “The Lord saves;” but earlier God had promised Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). In Galatians 3:8, the Apostle Paul states that in this promise made to Abraham, God was speaking in Old Testament times of Jesus and “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand.” Thus, in the conquering of Canaan, God is laying the groundwork for the fulfillment of His promise, first given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), that through the line of the woman, One will come Who will crush the serpent’s head. Adam and Eve believed this promise and were saved by faith. So did Abraham and Joshua. May you too look in faith to the long-promised and now revealed Saviour, Jesus the Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to give you the eyes of faith in order to better see and understand these spiritual truths. Thank the Lord for fulfilling His great promise of redemption. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 2 – Divine assurances

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Yesterday we were confronted with the sinfulness of sin. Today we are comforted with Divine assurances from our loving God. There are three assurances in our passage. First is God’s Divine Presence. In verses 2 through 4, God commands Joshua to cross over the Jordan River to take possession of the Promised Land. Israel knew there were hordes of pagans there, some of them giants, all of them living in fortified cities. How could they possibly take this land? Only by trusting in the promise God makes in verse 5, “No man shall be able to stand before you … I will be with you.” With God’s presence this is possible. Without Him there is only failure. Second is God’s Divine Courage. Twice in verses 6 and 7 God commands Joshua “Be strong and of good courage.” Joshua can be this - not by drawing on some inner pool of strength - but because God’s presence is with Joshua and so he has God’s strength and courage! Relying on self will only bring disaster, but relying on the LORD will bring blessing. Third is God’s Divine Success. In verse 8, God promises that by observing “The Book of the Law” there will be “good success.” God gives us His presence and makes us strong and courageous so that we will be people of the Word, doing His will and not our own, as a testimony to the world. Jesus Christ is the fullness of these Divine assurances. Rest in Him today. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to teach you more of Himself. Ask Him to wean you more from yourself. Ask Him to make you “strong and courageous” through faith in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

August 1 – Introduction

For many churchgoers today, the Old Testament Book of Joshua is only about ancient battles and bloodshed. Sure the walls of Jericho fell down flat, but what does that have to do with me? Liberal church leaders will even condemn the book because it seemingly encourages “ethnic cleansing.” As Reformed Christians, we see a far bigger truth being played out in the pages of this book. These chapters demonstrate well the intense and intimate nature of the process that God used in order to bring about His promised Messiah: how God worked in man and through man in order to save man! We also see in Joshua how our Sovereign God is not only in control of the outcome of individual battles, but how He also determines and guides the rise and fall of every nation on earth. All nations, all kings, right down to every individual, play a role in our Lord’s eternally devised plan to bring about and secure the salvation of His elect people. That is the greater “Story” going on in this book: the sovereign work and almighty action of our God in redeeming His people. From our studies this month, may we learn of how our Redeeming God continues to work out His great plan of salvation in the hearts and lives of His people still today. All came to pass “Not a word failed or any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45 Scripture reading: Joshua 21:43-45 We begin our study of Joshua with verses that explain why this historical record was written: as a testimony to God’s covenant faithfulness! God is sovereign and “all comes to pass” of everything He ordains, therefore He can be entrusted with our life. We can follow Him in all confidence. Liberal scholars take exception to this. They contend that this book should not be read by us. “Joshua is too gory,” they proclaim. “Here is an Old Testament God of vengeance Who commands the Jews to steal the land that belongs to others and to commit genocide in the process! We demand a ‘kinder and gentler’ God than Who we see here.” We respond by admitting that there is bloodshed in this book, but we read Joshua in the light of the first five books of the Bible. There God reveals Himself as being absolutely holy and morally pure. He created us perfect and He warned us that He hates sin, promising death for anyone who did sin. Thus, the elimination of the pagan tribes of Canaan must be seen by us as God sees it: the holy, moral, and natural outcome of human sin. God’s righteous judgment must be against man’s sinful rebellion. Divine justice. “All came to pass” just as God promised. God will judge our sin as well. Do not ignore this truth! Apart from Jesus Christ, we too are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Trust in Jesus, for only in Him is there salvation for our soul. Suggestions for prayer Confess God’s holiness and your sinfulness. Thank Him for this time of grace and for the sending of His Son. Ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see the great truths found in the Book of Joshua. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois....

Daily devotional

July 27 – Whose side are you on, anyway?

“Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’” – Joshua 5:13b, 14a Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 The night before the conquest of Jericho, Joshua was alone, and at a certain moment, he was startled by a man standing before him, with his drawn sword in his hand. Joshua asked him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? The man said, No. It’s a strange answer. He is obviously ready to fight. So he must be for Israel or for Jericho. One or the other. But he says, No; in other words, I’m not on either side. I am the commander of the army of the LORD. It will become very clear that this man is the LORD Himself, and Israel is His people, and they were there to take possession of the land that He had promised them. So why didn’t he say, “I’m on your side, Joshua?” Maybe it sounds strange to say it this way, but we always have to remember that the LORD isn’t on our side. The Bible says in lots of places that God is with us and for us. But, He’s not on our side, in the sense that He takes up our agenda, that He’ll always make sure things always work out the way we want them to. God is sovereign, and He’s working on His agenda. And that’s good news, because His agenda is infinitely more wonderful than ours. He has decided to glorify Himself not by doing what we want Him to do, but by saving us from our sin by grace through faith in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Glorify God for taking you up in His sovereign purpose, so that you receive the indescribable blessing as He vindicates the honor of His Name. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 26 – It’s all about God

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand.” – Joshua 5:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 The name of this book is Joshua, and people have the tendency to read the book as if it is all about him, about how faithful and wise and courageous he was. They do that because that seems to make the message of the book relevant and practical: we should be faithful and wise and courageous like Joshua. And when we read about this strange meeting between Joshua and the commander of the army of the LORD, and we try to understand how this is relevant to us and our lives, we might imagine that there are several things we should admire about Joshua and that we should imitate. Maybe Joshua was meditating or praying. That shows his faith. Or maybe he was scouting things out. That shows his wisdom. When the man approached him, Joshua challenged him. That shows how brave he was. And in the end, he asked the man what he was supposed to do. Joshua was humble. Those are certainly admirable qualities. But this story isn’t about Joshua. It’s about this mysterious figure who is called, the commander of the army of the LORD. It’s about God, and what He was going to do at Jericho. That’s what makes the whole Bible so absolutely relevant, and so utterly practical. Because in the Bible, God shows us Who He is, and what He is like, and what He does for our salvation. The Bible is the gospel, the foundation of our faith, and our only comfort. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that the story of your salvation is all about Him, and His glory, which He has chosen to reveal by showing grace and favor to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 25 – Taste the goodness of the Lord

“And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” – Joshua 5:11-12 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:10-12 The day after the Passover, Israel ate one of the best meals they had ever tasted. On that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. Why was that meal so delicious? Not just because they’d been eating manna for forty years. Not because of an exceptional menu. This is about more than the food. God brought them into Canaan at harvest time. It was a land flowing with milk and honey, and they ate of the produce of the land. It was delicious because it tasted like grace, because it tasted like God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God had promised, If you trust in Me and walk with Me in repentance and faith and obedience, I will give you a land with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant. A land where you live by grace. Israel tasted the goodness of the LORD. This is the gospel. Walk with God by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ. He says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10) Suggestions for prayer Ask that God will help you to taste and see His goodness and faithfulness to you, in the good things with which He provides you from day to day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 24 – Remember and believe, so that you can stand firm in faith

“While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho.” – Joshua 5:10 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:10-12 You can be sure that it was no coincidence that God brought Israel into Canaan when He did, just before it was time to celebrate the Passover. From a military point of view, from a human point of view, celebrating the Passover at that moment and in that place made no sense. But, spiritually speaking, Israel said, We can’t go forward, we can’t take up the struggle of faith, without the strength that the LORD gives us, by faith in the gospel. Armies that depend on their own strength, on weapons and strategies, prepare for war by making careful plans and gathering as many weapons and soldiers as they can get. But for God’s people, the war is already won. And getting ready for the battle is a matter of nourishing our faith. At that moment, and at that place, on the plains of Jericho, Israel said, We need to celebrate the Passover. Yes, God commanded us to celebrate it every year. But we’re going to celebrate the Passover because we need to go to war and fight to take possession of our inheritance. So we need to strengthen our faith by remembering what the LORD did for us when He brought us out of Egypt. That is, we receive the strength to stand in the battle against our spiritual enemies – by hearing the gospel, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper – so that we remember and believe what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by the work of the Holy Spirit, you will be strengthened for the fight against sin, the devil and his whole dominion when you hear the preaching of the gospel and participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 19 – A monument at Gilgal

“…the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:23, 24 Scripture reading: Joshua 4:19-24 Israel crossed the Jordan and encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. Joshua set up the twelve stones which they had taken out of the Jordan as a monument at Gilgal. And throughout the generations, parents would point at those stones, and explain the meaning of the stones. Pay careful attention to the way the parents had to explain to each new generation, what those twelve stones were all about. They had to tell them that the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever – as if the children had been there that day. In the unity of faith, they shared in the great miracle of salvation that God performed that day. What God did for Israel that day was a picture of what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, our Joshua. Just as the LORD went ahead of Israel into the river, He has gone ahead of us, into death and the grave. And when He raised Him from the dead, He exalted our Saviour in our eyes. He showed us, and all the peoples of the world, that Jesus is the only One Who saves from sin and death. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to keep your faith fixed on Jesus Christ, living in the knowledge that He has already won the victory by His death and resurrection. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 18 – The last enemy to be defeated

“… the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.” – Joshua 3:16 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:14-17 Israel was standing along the banks of the Jordan. Every eye was fixed on the ark, as the priests carried it, step by step, toward the river. (Don’t forget, dear readers, don’t forget, that the Jordan overflows all its banks, the narrow ones and the wider ones, all through the time of the harvest.) The tension was unbearable. Would the river really stop flowing? Or would it do what flooding rivers do, sweep those men off their feet, and carry them and the ark downstream and away? Of all things, says the Spirit, when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap – all the way back to Adam, more than thirty kilometers upstream. Where the river used to be, there was dry ground. And there was the ark, in the middle of the riverbed, a kilometer away. It was shining, gold and glittering in the sun, and it was all they saw. The Jordan River stood between Israel and her inheritance. It was the last great obstacle, the last enemy that stood between them and life in the Promised Land. If they had to cross it on their own, it would have swept them away. But God went into the river ahead of them; He was in the river with them. They weren’t afraid; God made it safe for them to pass through the river. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will face the struggles and the sorrows of life in confidence, knowing that God is with you and that He will never leave nor forsake you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 17 – All things must work together for your salvation

“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’” – Joshua 3:7 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:7-17 In a certain respect, the people of Israel had to believe in Joshua as the instrument of their salvation. That’s why the LORD said, Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. The LORD let Joshua announce what He was going to do, so that it looked almost as if Joshua made it happen. If the people tried to cross the Jordan River, it would swallow them up, and sweep them away. But the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, was going to enter the river ahead of them. The Holy Spirit uses the Name, Adonai – that means, the sovereign Ruler. Yahweh is Israel’s covenant God, and the Master of the creation. And Joshua said that the river is going to recognize Him, and what He is doing, bringing His chosen people into their inheritance. And it is going to submit to Him, and to His work of salvation. The waters will be cut off from flowing and stand in a heap. And that is exactly what happened. As soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the river simply disappeared. All Israel could see was the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence. And God showed them that under Joshua’s care and leadership, all things must work together for their salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you by His Word and Spirit to live and die in the comfort of knowing that all things must work together for your salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 16 – Consecrate yourselves

“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’” – Joshua 3:5 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:1-6 Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves because the LORD was going to do wonders among them. That meant that they had to wash, and put on clean clothes, and abstain from sexual relations. But consecration isn’t just a matter of doing those outward, symbolic things. God wanted them to do those things because He wanted them to be spiritually alert and open, to see and understand the wonders that He was about to do among them. You might wonder why they had to get ready for that. If God was going to do miracles, wouldn’t they be able to see that they were miracles? And wouldn’t they know, just from seeing what happened, that God had done it? But think about what happened when Jesus came. He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind and fed the crowds and He even raised the dead to life. But they crucified Him. Unbelief is stubborn. If your heart is not open, you cannot see what the Lord is doing, or hear what He is saying to you. So God wanted Israel to be in a frame of mind, spiritually, for what He was going to show them. We need to have this spiritual posture, of looking to the Lord with expectation, to see and receive His salvation. And we cultivate this attitude by consecrating ourselves. That means, seeing ourselves as we are, sinners who can only be saved by the wonder of God’s sovereign grace in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to be spiritually alert and open and expectant each time you read or hear the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 11 – The battle belongs to the Lord

“…we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:10, 11 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-14 Paul says in Romans 10, Faith comes from what is heard. Rahab heard what Yahweh had done, and she believed in Him. She called Him, Yahweh. That’s the covenant Name of God. She said, I know that Yahweh has given you the land. In fact, Rahab said, Everyone in Jericho, everyone in Canaan, is afraid of you. Because we’ve heard what your God has done for you. It’s all anyone can talk about. Think about her faith, and Canaan’s fear of God, and compare it to the way Israel behaved. Israel saw what God had done, but they grumbled and complained and doubted. Rahab and the Canaanites had heard what God had done, and they knew what He could do. Rahab said, As soon as we heard about what you did to Sihon and Og, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. This is the gospel of the conquest of the Promised Land. Before a single soldier had set foot in the land, before a single Israelite arrow was shot or spear was thrown, God had given the land of Canaan to Israel. And this is the gospel of our inheritance. Yes, there are enemies, and you have to fight; you have to stand. But in Christ, the LORD has gone before us and defeated our enemies. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to believe that your sworn enemies – the devil, the world and your own flesh – are defeated in Christ, and pray that His victory would be displayed clearly in your confession and life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 10 – Rahab the prostitute

“And she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.’” – Joshua 2:4b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-7 The people of Jericho knew that Israel was camped just on the other side of the river, so they were keeping a close eye on any strangers that came to their city. When they figured out who these men were who had gone to Rahab’s house, they went straight to the king and told him. Somehow, Rahab found out that the soldiers were on their way, and she hid the two spies before they got there. She admitted that the men had come to her house, but she said, “I did not know where they were from. They left Jericho just before the city gates were closed, but if you pursue them quickly, you will overtake them.” She lied. Was that right? We get hung up on that question. But the Bible says that Rahab was acting out of faith. In Hebrews 11, the Holy Spirit puts Rahab in the same category as Abel and Enoch and Abraham, and all the “heroes of faith” that He mentions in that chapter. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” James 2 says, “Rahab the prostitute was justified when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.” The Holy Spirit highlights the faith of this Canaanite prostitute, as the sovereign and gracious work of God. It was a sign for Israel, that He had gone before them, and would give Jericho into their hands. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be encouraged by the knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is right now gathering God’s elect from every nation, and joining them by faith to His body, to be your brothers and sisters in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 9 – Commitment to exercise Church discipline

“Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.” – Joshua 1:18 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 Israel had shown herself to be a stubborn and rebellious people. But here, on the doorstep of Canaan, they made an absolute commitment to obey Joshua. And they promised, “Whoever rebels against your commandment, and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.”This has to do with who Israel is, as God’s people. That means, it has to do with us, and who we are. God had spelled out how Israel would receive their inheritance. In a certain way, they had to believe in Joshua. He was their appointed leader, and they had to trust him, and obey him. This is why they promised to put to death whoever rebelled against his commandment or disobeyed his words. Because disobedience was unbelief. Rebelling against Joshua and disobeying his commandment was rejecting the promise of the gospel, and refusing to live by faith. So, those who rebelled against Joshua, and disobeyed his commandment showed that they didn’t belong to the people of God. The church is finally the body of believers, of all those who are hungering and thirsting for salvation in Jesus Christ. And anyone who rebels against the Word of Jesus Christ, who disobeys His commandment, is rejecting the gospel, and refusing to live by faith in Christ. He or she forfeits the right to be included among His people. Our commitment to exercise church discipline is an expression of our loyalty to Christ, and our desire for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will keep you from falling away from Christ and that He will bless the work of believers and of the elders as your church exercises mutual and official church discipline. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Commitment to the unity of faith

“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, ‘Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.” Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them.’” – Joshua 1:12-15a Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 When Moses gave the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:28-32), they promised that they would send their soldiers to fight alongside their brother Israelites. Humanly speaking, the bigger your army, the better. But time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses told Israel that the LORD would be fighting for them. So Israel didn’t need a big army. They didn’t need any help from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. So why did the two-and-a-half tribes have to send soldiers to fight along with the rest of Israel? This is about the unity that’s created among God’s people by faith in the gospel. Think about what’s going on here; think about it in the light of the New Testament. Israel is an Old Testament picture of the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were about to receive their inheritance. We confess that we believe and profess one catholic or universal church, which is a holy congregation and assembly of the true Christian believers, who expect their entire salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s who the church is. And this is what that looks like in Joshua 1: a congregation of people who were expecting their salvation in Joshua. Joshua is saying, Every Israelite must do all that he can to make sure that every one of his fellow Israelites receives his inheritance. That’s what our Joshua says, too. That’s the demand and the purpose of our unity in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, to deepen your love and your commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray and to work out their salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 3 – Immanuel is our comfort

“Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” – Joshua 1:2b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 It sounds as if the LORD was standing with Joshua, at a place where the whole land was spread out before them. And the LORD says, It’s all yours: every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you. God says it three times, in verses 2, 3 and 6. There it is. You only have to go and take it. Moses says in Deuteronomy 8 that Canaan was a paradise. There was plenty of water, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees and pomegranates and olive trees; there would be honey, and they would eat bread without scarcity. They would lack nothing. The stones were iron, and they could dig copper out of its hills. But the Jordan was at flood stage, running high and fast, overflowing its banks. And Joshua remembered the fortified cities and giants that were waiting for them. So, the promise was wonderful, but the idea of entering Canaan was intimidating. The LORD knew that Joshua needed encouragement. He said, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you.”That’s how we know that we will receive the inheritance that God has promised us: we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:13,14). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, and pray that more and more, by His work, you may be confident of your inheritance in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 2 – Not even Moses could save them

“Moses My servant is dead.” – Joshua 1:2 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Moses’ name is mentioned three times in the first sentence of the book. He was the only leader the people had ever known. He had met with God and talked with Him, face to face. He had brought the good news of freedom from slavery in Egypt and he was God’s instrument of salvation, at the Red Sea and the entire way through the wilderness. And now he was gone. Israel had finally reached their destination, but after all the sorrows and frustrations of leading those thankless people through the wilderness, God wouldn’t let him enter Canaan. Yes, he had sinned. At Meribah, Moses made the worst mistake he could have made as a mediator. God wanted to show Israel His mercy and patience, but Moses was angry, and he misrepresented God. But Psalm 106:32,33 says that Israel angered God at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. The people were impossible. They were unsavable. Just like we are. That’s always the great obstacle to our salvation. Who can save us from our slavery to sin, and make us inherit eternal life? Jesus said, With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)That’s the answer: only God can save us. And in the name of Joshua, God promised Israel, and He promises us, that He will save us. Remember and believe: salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Confess that you and your sin are the greatest obstacles to your salvation, and thank God that your salvation is from the LORD. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction

How do we approach the book of Joshua, the story of the conquest of the promised land, the story of this great leader of Israel? The book is named after him, and his name is on every page.  He’s meant to be central in the story. His parents had called him, Hoshea.  Hoshea means, salvation.  But when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea along with eleven other men, he changed his name to Joshua.  Joshua means, salvation is from the LORD. That’s a promise; in fact, that’s the gospel.  And when the Lord sent His own Son into the world, He told Joseph and Mary to give Him that name, too. We think of Joshua as a history book.  But when the people of the old covenant described their Bible, there was no section called history books.  For them, it was simply, the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, or maybe, the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, or the Writings. And they put Joshua into the section called, the Prophets. That’s how we have to understand the message of Joshua: salvation prophecy.  Biblically speaking, prophecy means, in the first place, telling the wonderful works of God to save His people, because God’s actions in the past shed light on the future, and how God is going to save His people in Jesus Christ.  So this book is the gospel of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Joshua, and the gospel of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has defeated our enemies and causes us to receive the greater inheritance of a new heaven and a new earth. How can we be saved? Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 There’s a lot of tension hanging over this opening passage of the book of Joshua.  In Genesis 13, the LORD promised Abraham that He would make his offspring as the dust of the earth and that He would give them the land of Canaan as their inheritance. 400 years later, Abraham’s offspring had become a nation that was growing in number, just like God had promised.  But the promise of the land was still unfulfilled.  Israel was standing on the border of the land at that moment.  If they climbed up one of the hills in the area, they could see the whole land, from north to south, and all the way out to the west, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. But they had been this close once before, forty years earlier, at Kadesh-Barnea.  That time, when they heard about the people who lived there and the fortified cities, they were afraid, and they started looking for someone to bring them back to Egypt.  What reason did Joshua have to think that this time things would go better than they had the first time?  The journey through the wilderness showed that Israel was an unbelieving, thankless, complaining people. There was no way that Israel would ever enter the land, and receive the inheritance God had promised them unless it was by grace and unless God did it for them.  And that was the gospel He proclaimed to them in the name of their leader: Joshua – salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer   Thank God that He has provided us with a salvation that is all His work, and that we receive by grace through faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

June 30 – You shall not live by bread alone

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Deut. 8:3 Scripture reading: Deut. 8 Why do churches reject God? We see the slow degradation of churches in our neighborhoods. People will give any number of causes: not following the confessions or the church order, or external causes like TV, cellphones, rock music, the internet, cultural degradation or secular universities. Ultimately these are symptoms. The central problem is that we have forgotten God, His statutes and His rules. We have forgotten the Word: our Lord Jesus Christ. We have grown rich and tell ourselves that we ourselves have brought about the peace and prosperity that we experience. We have left our Bible on the shelf, or interpret it so it no longer pierces our hearts. We’ve forgotten what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We no longer desire to fully seek and obey every word that comes from God. We’re starving for spiritual food and seek to fill that hunger with the filth of entertainment, with vague platitudes of loving and respecting everyone, or with comfort. God warns us in Deut. 8, “If you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish because you would not obey the voice of the Lord.” If you love God, you will dig deep into His Word and seek Him. GodHimself encourages you in this task, “Strengthen yourself and be of good courage.” May He be with you. Suggestions for prayer Repent of your failures to put the Word at the center of your life. Seek the bread of the Word of the Lord and the strength of the Spirit in comprehending and applying that Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 25 – Centered on God

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deut. 6:5-6 Scripture reading: Deut. 6:4-9 God is one. He has one law, one Christ, one Spirit and one Bible. God calls us to worship Him in Spirit and Truth and to love His mercy and His justice. He calls us to love Him with heart, soul, and mind. With our heart: Our heart is our center; all things we do come from the heart, so it needs to be set on God. We can think of our heart as a compass. For accurate direction, the needle must be set toward the north. Our heart must always be directed toward God. We should be immersed in the Scriptures, the revelation of God, always seeking to obey it. With our soul: The soul refers to the whole animating force of the body and to all bodily action. To love God with our soul is to love Him with everything we do, to love God in the very way that we use our bodies. For example, when we stand at the beginning and end of worship, we honor God as we enter and leave His presence. With our mind: God teaches our hearts through the mind. We use our mind to contemplate God’s Word, to apply it to our lives, to judge those who live in disobedience to God and to judge those who teach heresy and error. In the freedom that Christ brings in the Spirit, the mind grows even more important in using the wisdom that comes from above to apply God’s Word. This is the way of flourishing. Suggestions for prayer Acknowledge your failure in loving God. We have all fallen short of God’s commands. We have only a small beginning of obedience to this, the greatest of all commands in this life. Seek God’s help in calibrating your life toward His righteousness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 24 – The only Holy God

Hear, Oh Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Deut. 6:4 Scripture reading: Deut. 6:1-6 There is more in these words than the assertion that God is one. If that was all this text was teaching, we might be left with the arbitrary God of the Muslims or the silent God of the Deists. The oneness of God reveals He is uniquely God, uniquely one in His love and promises to Israel. He is one in being and will. There is no contradiction or change in Him. There is no division or disagreement within Himself. We call this the simplicity of God. Any attribute of God describes the fullness of God. He is mercifully just. He is righteously loving. He is lovingly holy. The unique goodness of God, His constancy, His faithfulness, is something we can rely on. Those who claim that there are many ways to God, contradict the truth that God is one. God does not provide contradictory ways to Himself. In the Old Testament, the way was through the promise He gave to Abraham and through Israel, whom He set apart as holy. In the New Testament, that way is found in Christ. Israel was tempted by the teaching that there are many ways to God, just as we may be today. Remember the story of the golden calf? Israel had received the Ten Commandments and instead of waiting for God, they choose to directly contradict the second commandment. They set up an image of the Lord God, a golden calf. They replaced the center of God’s worship, drawing near to fellowship with God through sacrifice, with a golden calf. Suggestions for prayer Pray for growth in your relationship with the one true God. Seek His grace as you seek to love Yahweh before all other gods. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 23 – God's prayer

Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! – Deut. 5:29 Scripture reading: Deut. 5:22-33 The Lord sees that Israel’s request for a mediator comes out of a recognition of who He is and who they really are. The request is a humble one. Israel recognizes her weak and sinful nature and that she does not have any inherent right to speak to God. God praises her for that and He grants her a mediator. But God goes further; He reveals something about Himself in the wish that He expresses in verse 29. He desires that the same heart that responded in a proper fear of God on hearing His voice on the mountain, would continue in that fear and keep all His commandments. God’s prayer should be at the forefront of the minds of all those who are tempted to question their salvation. God is not an arbitrary God, willfully sending some to hell and some to heaven. He is a God of compassion and love, Who desires that those who are in covenant with Him might live out the commandments that He has given them. He is a loving Father, for all who are willing to humble themselves before Him, recognizing their rebellious nature. This is because God has made men to glorify and enjoy Him forever. The fact that God chooses out a people for Himself is rooted in His loving nature. He has proven this through the cross of Christ. Ask, and He will give. He offers the sacrifice of Christ and the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in the task of living as a Christian. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for how He reveals a disposition of love and kindness toward His people. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 22 – Israel's prayer

For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have and has still lived? – Deut. 5:26 Scripture reading: Deut. 5:22-33, Hebrews 12:18-29 Israel is devastated. The unveiled Word is before them. They know that they cannot continue to stand before God and live. The leaders come to Moses as soon as God has finished and told him that if they continue listening to God, they will die. They need a mediator between God and their sinful flesh. God affirms their prayer. They have rightly understood their status before Him. They affirm God’s choice of Moses as mediator. He will pass on the words of God to Israel. But Moses prefigures someone far greater. In Christ, God will provide a Mediator Who brings us to Mt. Zion, where we may hear the Word of God in the light, not in the darkness and flame as Israel did. Our recognition of the holiness of God is often missing in the church today. People tell us that we can approach God in any way we want, but the advent of Christ makes this recognition of holiness more important. Christ brings us to a new intimacy with God, but Christ also calls us to come before Him having purified our hearts and prepared our hands and feet to approach His throne. This is done through a knowledge of our sin and the One who takes away our sin… and a desire to do His will. Israel’s fear is demonstrating the importance of preparing our hearts for worship. We are called to prepare and examine ourselves as we approach God on Sunday to hear the Word of God and to partake of the sacrament. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may strengthen you as you approach Him both in your daily worship and your worship among the people of God. Acknowledge the Lord’s almighty works and His holiness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 17 – A fading glory

Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. – Deut. 3:27 Scripture reading: Deut. 3:23-29, 2 Corinthians 3 The covenant that God established through Moses was glorious. We read about the glory of God in Moses’ face in 2 Corinthians 3. When Moses descended from Mt. Sinai after talking to God, his face shone so brightly that the people could not look at him and he had to veil his face. The glory that Moses had at the foot of the mountain faded away. He would not live forever and would not continue to stand as a mediator between Israel and God. Even as the glory faded from Moses, so it faded from the people. They eventually rebelled against God and not long after Moses and Joshua died, the people began to fade again. Flesh decays and is corrupt. It cannot be overcome unless a new principle of life can be found to overcome it. What can be done about this problem? God gives glory in the Old Covenant, but it fades away under the weight of the sin of the people. Moses eventually died and stayed dead. He sent a successor into the Promised Land: Joshua. Joshua had a short-lived glory. He died and the people failed to take the rest of the Promised Land successfully. Therefore, his death could not take care of sin. But the ministry of the law of Moses, or as Paul calls it, the ministry of condemnation, has been replaced by the ministry of the Spirit through the righteousness of Jesus. Christ died. Through Him, death becomes an entrance into the Promised Land. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the great glory that is given in Jesus Christ. Pray that we may live by the Spirit in all that we do. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 16 – Punished in order to picture Christ

But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. – Deut. 3:26 Scripture reading: Deut. 3:23-29, Romans 4:16-25 The Father of all good things, the fount of mercy denies Moses' request. Why? Moses says, “The Lord was angry with me because of you.” To clarify this, we need to go back to chapter 1:37, “Even with me the Lord was angry on your account and said you shall not go in there.” If Numbers 20 tells us that the Lord was angry at Moses for his sin, how is it that God’s anger is on account of the people? Ps. 106:32-33 gives us helpful words: “They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.” The evil of the people partly accounts for Moses’ anger. This in no way clears Moses of fault, but it helps us understand why he was angry. Moses, like Christ, is called to accept the consequences of the sin of the people. God has a reason for denying Moses’ request. He wants to typify the life and death of the Son that He will send for the sake of the sins of the world. Of course, Moses' death does not cover sin, but it foretells Christ’s coming. It is only in the resurrection of Christ that the faith of God's people is vindicated, for it is by His resurrection that we are justified. When we suffer the consequences of other peoples’ sin, we too point to the suffering of our Lord and Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord that He might give you the strength to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 15 – The prayer of a righteous man

Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon. – Deut. 3:25 Scripture reading: Deut. 3:23-29, Numbers 20:2-13 In God’s denial of Moses’ request, we see some of the complexity of God’s relationship to us. God is a good Father. God freely forgives sins in Jesus Christ. But God does not acquiesce to Moses’ request. The book of James tells us, “The prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Is Moses’ prayer the prayer of a righteous man? Moses failed to represent the righteousness of God before His people. In Numbers 20, we read that God told Moses to speak to a rock so that water would come from it. Instead of reflecting God’s merciful answer to a selfish request, Moses struck the rock with his rod and shouted at the people, calling them “rebels.” He failed to present God’s holiness to the people. But Moses was also a righteous man through faith in God. He pleads with a heart that loved the Lord. We need to think of the prayer of Moses along the lines of Christ in Gethsemane. Like Moses, Christ prays, “Let this cup pass from me.” Christ’s desire is not evil. Moses’ desire is not evil. Moses prayer is a good prayer. However, it doesn’t seem to be a perfect prayer. Christ, unlike Moses, adds, “Lord, let your will be done.” Jesus, the truly righteous man, is better able than Moses to accept the verdict of the Lord. Moses sets an example, just as Christ does, in bringing all our burdens and hopes before God. However, we should also be willing to accept the verdict of the Lord, even a verdict we do not understand. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for being a faithful Father as our Lord Jesus Christ showed us. Pray that He may strengthen us in accepting His will in our lives. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 14 – United in rest

All your men of valour shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel… until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you. – Deut. 3:18-20 Scripture reading: Deut. 3:12-22 Moses reminded Reuben, Gad and Manasseh of the promise they made back in the book of Numbers. They asked for the lands that Israel took from Sihon and Og. Moses was concerned that their request was selfish and worried that they would ignore the needs of their brothers when they attacked the main body of the Promised Land. But the tribes offered, not only to fight with their brothers, but to be in the front line. That meant they would be the first to die if things went badly. The goal was rest. Moses wanted all Israel to participate in the rest that was coming. He wanted brothers to be concerned for each other. How does that apply to us? According to Matthew 28, Christ, our ascended King, wants us to bring His rest to the world through the gospel. That means that while the task of evangelism remains and the task of discipling remains, the church should not imagine that it can kick back and enjoy its rest in God. Our prayers, our gifts, our resources should be used to expand the kingdom of God. There is a danger of merely focussing on local needs. At times this is necessary, but at other times, we can lose the desire to bring the gospel and focus inward on our family, our church, or our community. We are called to declare God’s gift of rest to the world. We have to have kingdom thinking. How do I best develop myself so that I model God’s generosity in giving rest? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may give us the grace to find opportunity to give rest to others through physical and spiritual gifts, so that we may be united in rest. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 9 – A greater purpose

And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession because I have given it to the sons of Lot as a possession. – Deut. 2:19 Scripture reading: Deut. 2:1-23 God ensures that every life on earth works out according to His plan. Acts 17 states, “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” This is suggestive of what is going on in Deut. 2. God gives a place to Esau and a place to the sons of Lot. He arranges the nations around Israel so they may see His great works and how He is bringing salvation to the world. God has set up Israel’s relatives along her border. They have first row seats for the coming of Christ. God gives the same gift to the Philistines. Later in Scripture, we read how God uses the Israelites for His glory in Tyre. God is using Israel to draw the nations to Himself. God continues to guide the affairs of the world today. In North America, we live in a moment where God is bringing thousands upon thousands of immigrants into our cities. Even if there are some legitimate concerns about immigration, that is an opportunity for the church of North America. Our job is to lift the cross of Christ so that seekers can hear the call of Christ through His Word and Spirit and come to Him by faith. We trust that God has put us here for His purposes. If we do not take hold of that purpose, the church will fail in North America. Let us take hold of that purpose. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the opportunities he has given us in the way he has shaped the course of history. Pray that the church may be bold in showing Christ to her neighbors. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 8 – A failure in holy war

The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. – Deut. 1:30-31 Scripture reading: Deut. 1:19-46 Israel rejected the call of God to wage holy war, despite Moses’ assurance that God would be with her. She rejected the Word of the Lord Who was with her in fire by night and cloud by day. God was with her, showing Himself in a visible form, teaching her to trust in Him and she rejected Him utterly. That raises the question, do you believe the promises of God? God has commanded us to baptize and disciple the nations. He promised that all nations will be blessed through the seed of Abraham, which is Christ. And God has promised to be with you by His Holy Spirit so that you are enabled in working out God’s mission. Do you believe His promises? Sometimes we focus on the weakness of mankind and despair of the work of God in the mission of the church. Yes, we should be aware of our weakness. If we do not completely humble ourselves before God, we will fail. But that is not the primary message of the Old Testament. The message is that God is powerful to accomplish what He promises. We don’t want to hear this and respond with the same attitude the Israelites had, “Has God brought the church to North America to die?” The church has died in certain areas before, but not because God brought it there to die. It died because the people were afraid, afraid of the giants, afraid of various arguments, afraid of sacrifice, afraid of confessing God’s truth. We are called to fear God, not man. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the love of God may overcome the improper fear that is in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 7 – Self-deception

And you murmured in your tents and said, “Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.” – Deut. 19:27 Scripture reading: Deut. 1:19-46 Are you honest with yourself? About yourself? One of the key tools of Satan is self-deception. Romans 1 tells us that the unrighteous man suppresses the truth. He knows the truth. He knows that God exists and he knows something of His righteousness, but suppresses it and is self-deceived. He believes Satan’s lies concerning the existence of the God of Scripture. Self-deception is just as prevalent among Christians; God gives us stories of failures to teach us about our self-deception. God wants us to know our hearts. God doesn’t whitewash the history of His people. We are stupid, hard-headed, worse, a people with evil hearts and corrupt flesh. We need to know that, otherwise we are self-deceived and begin to trust in our wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. God gives us the story of how he punished the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years so that we may examine ourselves and put our faith in Him. Self-deception comes in many forms. Some deny the justice of God as a way to serve their lusts. Some deny the truth of God’s Word or twist it so that they are more comfortable with its contents. Often it begins with fear. In response to fear, our wicked imaginations feed us lies, so we reach some inescapable “logical” conclusion. In Israel’s case, their fear of the Amorites led them to question the love and kindness of God; love and kindness they had seen in their rescue. They accused God of bringing them in the wilderness to die. Are we so different? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may uncover your self-deception, so that you may more fully grasp the righteousness and holiness of God. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 6 – You have the anointing of the Holy One

And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My Lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them.” – Numbers 11:28-29 Scripture reading: Deut. 1:9-18, Numbers 11:16-29 Moses delegates authority and God gives a portion of His Spirit with that authority. In Numbers 11, the people have complained against God again and Moses cries out, “I am not able to carry all these people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.” God responds by giving Moses a gift, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel… and I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them.” This is a mini-Pentecost. God fills seventy men with His Spirit. And then… the Spirit breaks out beyond that and dwells in other men, Eldad and Medad, so that they begin to prophesy. Moses has been given the wisdom of God to rule according to God’s heart. But Moses could not share that Spirit of wisdom with his people. Then God works in Moses so that he prophesies something far bigger, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets!” Pentecost fulfills that prophecy. In the words of Joel, repeated by Peter,“ I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Pentecost is a sign that God has restored the office of all believers in Christ. You are now called to exercise your office of prophet, priest, and king. You now have a responsibility as mature people in Christ to judge without partiality, even as the seventy elders were called to help Moses. Exercise that responsibility through His Word and Spirit in all that you do. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit of God might strengthen you in your calling, whatever it is, so that you may do it wholeheartedly. Thank God for the gift of His Spirit and for the close fellowship you may have with Him in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 1 – Introduction, and Reflection at the boundary

Pastor James Zekveld started his ministry with a sermon series on the book of Deuteronomy. June’s devotions are a summary of some of the insights gained while preaching through that book. Deuteronomy is a book of covenant renewal. This comes out in the continual call to remember God’s works, to search the Scriptures for God’s wisdom, and to remain faithful. Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law saying… – Deut. 1:5 Scripture reading: Deut. 1:1-5 You’ve decided to move, or you’re headed to University, or about to get married. All these activities invite reflection: kingdom reflection. Who are you? Who is your Master? How will you follow Him in your new situation? How do you advance the kingdom of God? Israel stops at the boundary of the Promised Land. They are about to receive the gift for which they have been waiting forty years. They rest at the borders and Moses explains the law again, preparing them for a big change. They will no longer be slaves or wanderers. They are about to be landowners. They are called to reflect on the law that the Lord their God has given them. Israel is to remember what God has done for them and what He has taught them. God will continue to be God to them and they must not forget Him as He prepares Israel for her new world. Do you look for renewal at the boundaries of your life? It’s a new day. How will I live for God today? How do I live for God’s kingdom in my marriage? In my job? As a student? God brings us new opportunities, so that we may reflect on Him and His Word. God brings us to greater maturity. Forgetting God is easy. A new boundary is an opportunity to reflect and grow. Take the time to reflect on who God is and what His desires are at the boundaries of your life. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Lord’s Holy Spirit so that you may grow in wisdom and maturity at the boundaries in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

May 31 – The pillars of the exodus

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! – Psalm 107:14-15 Scripture reading: Psalm 107:1-22 God has been the central character in the story of the Exodus. We pray that in your readings this month you have been blessed to see the LORD’s hand of mercy and power in action. Throughout the Bible, we have references to these majestic moments which God brought about in Egypt. One pillar of our faith is our confidence that a greater exodus has occurred in Christ! You can’t read Psalm 107 vs 14 without thinking about Jesus’ ministry of life through His death on the cross. He has brought us out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst our bonds apart. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to bring glory to His name and to reveal His saving purposes. Another great pillar of our joy in Christ is the truth that He has borne our burdens and atoned for our sins so that we have nothing to fear on the Great Day of the Lord. When He comes again to judge the living and the dead, we shall stand with Him and know complete joy and peace in His presence! The coming at midnight of the destroyer of the firstborn in Egypt vividly foreshadows a greater scene we shall soon witness. In the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God gave His people tangible testimonies of their salvation and further sanctification. In Christ and by His Spirit, we are given a greater assurance of these good blessings from our Heavenly Father in our baptism and the Lord’s Supper. So “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). Suggestions for prayer Ask our Gracious Father, to embolden us as His witnesses in a world that constantly rejects Him and His Word. Pray for Him to sanctify us by His Spirit and make us ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 30 – Life in the shadow of your wings

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Saviour of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. – Psalm 17:7-9  Scripture reading: Psalm 17 With all that we have rehearsed thus far, are you more persuaded than ever that the LORD is mighty, merciful, and most gracious towards His people? He heard their cries and He appointed Moses to be their deliverer and leader. He spared Moses and then provided Moses and the people with His Word and Holy Name to assure them that they would be freed. The LORD was with His people through all their distress and He never once looked away from them. He provided clear symbols to Israel of the special place she occupied before God. He demonstrated His Sovereign power over all of creation through the complete upheaval of the natural world in Egypt and He demonstrated His gracious mercy through the provision of the blood of the Lamb to spare them on the night of Judgment. Consider what the LORD has done! He provided a potent symbol of the atonement from the judgment wrath of God in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. And He sheltered them under His wings so that the threat of the judging destroyer was turned because of the LORD our Guardian’s presence. Now consider what He has done for you. He hears your cries! He responds to your plea for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. He provides you with His Word and assurance of freedom. He has shown you Christ, the Son, dying in your place and rising for your new life! He shelters you daily under His wings so that there is no condemnation and no fear of death in this life or judgment in the life to come! Suggestions for prayer Praise God from whom all blessings flow! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 29 – Life without the leaven of pagan Egypt

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' – Exodus 13:7-8  Scripture reading: Exodus 13:1-13, 16; Isaiah 26:1-15, 20-21 “Passover is about getting saved,” writes Phillip Ryken. “It reminds us that we have been delivered from death by a perfect substitute whose blood was shed as a sacrifice for our sins. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us what God wants us to do once we’ve been saved, and that is to live a sanctified life, becoming more and more free from sin.” The LORD uses the symbol of leaven as a vivid teaching lesson. What’s leaven? I’m not a foodie so I had to look this up: “It’s a bit of dough that is kept unbaked from the previous day’s baking and added to the next day’s batch of dough so that it would start the fermentation process there also.” Discarding that lump from their time as Egyptian slaves was a “gesture that symbolized leaving behind all Egyptian influences that might work their way through their lives and corrupt them.” In Joshua 24 we’re told that the fathers in Egypt had idols that they were flirting with - even as God was preparing to redeem them out of Egypt. That same idolatrous leaven, inherited from the nations around them, was to be cleansed from their midst in this Feast of Unleavened Bread. You’re exposed to all kinds of influences in your life - and so many things, like our culture’s view of sexuality, identity, wealth, entertainment and the like, can easily seep in. Yet the LORD sets before us this vivid reminder that He has saved us and calls us to daily live a sanctified life in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would further sanctify you and cause you to grow more and more in holiness through Christ and by His Spirit! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 24 – Reset your clocks to Exodus time

This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. – Exodus 12:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-2; Hebrews 4:1-13 Have you ever thought of why we gather for worship services on the first day of the week? Christians, ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, have gathered on the Lord’s Day to worship and break bread together. We gather on the day of our victory in Christ! We gather on the day when our guilty verdict was replaced with the verdict of our vindication in the resurrection of our Saviour! The Christian Church, in the hope and joy of the resurrection, established a new starting point to the Sabbath celebration in the aftermath of Christ’s victory. Where the LORD appointed a Sabbath rest for believers before the coming of Christ that required labor for six days and then a day of rest, we consciously see that now we begin each week in the Sabbath rest we enjoy in Christ and then we carry out our callings in the aftermath of our reconciliation in Him! We are living in the aftermath of our glorious exodus from the grave in Christ our Risen King! This pattern of orienting our lives to the great works of God was shown to us in the first place at creation, and we see this in Exodus 12 when the LORD marks out a new highlight on the peoples’ calendars and tells them to reset their clocks to exodus time. When God carries out His work of redemption, it permanently impacts the shape and rhythm of our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for the spiritual rest that we enjoy in Christ! Praise Him for His wondrous acts of reconciliation and deliverance! Ask Him to move our hearts to gratefully worship Him on this coming Lord’s Day as we give witness to and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and our exodus from the grave in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 23 – Not a dog shall growl against you

Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die... There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. – Exodus 11:5-7 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:4-10 This is a fascinating comment here about the dog’s growl. This is more than just a way to say that the Israelites won’t suffer even a scratch. On such a night with so much death in the land, one god of the Egyptians would be especially busy. Anubis, god of the dead and embalming who was represented like a dog in Egyptian images. And on this night, God declared, “The dog shall not growl against any of the people of Israel.” It’s as if the LORD is saying, “Your dog-god will be busy, Pharaoh, dealing with all your dead bodies – but won’t even growl against my people! For I will spare my people so that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” How amazing this is! And the story becomes even more amazing when we see the provisions that the LORD set in place for His people to be spared His fierce anger and powerful hand of vengeance. In the next few chapters, the LORD makes His people prepare for the night of terror in Egypt. He sets them apart and sets a covering over them to guard so that not a dog shall growl nor shall a single hair be touched by the LORD’s avenging angel. In Romans 9, we read of how God says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then, Paul reminds us, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for protecting and preserving your life and granting you the righteousness of Jesus Christ your Saviour! Praise Him for securing the salvation of His people and guarding us against the powers of death. Thank God for His Mercy! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 22 – He will let you go from here

The LORD said to Moses, "Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.” – Exodus 11:1 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:1-3; Exodus 3:13-22 In human history, great warriors have made a name for themselves by winning on the battlefield. But God does something far more amazing than win on the plain of battle against an outmatched Egyptian army. He takes up, with His hand, the very things He has created in the beginning and wields them like His Sword. We can say that creation plays an active role in Israel's release from slavery. The LORD unleashes natural powers and also brings them to a conclusion. Both are remarkable! If you remember, God attacked the symbol of Egypt, the serpent, in the first sign. Then, in the first plague of blood, there was a visible symbol of coming bloodshed. It was a warning sign. Then God attacked the Nile again when He made frogs come forth from the Nile to again bring a defiling presence into the land. Then God attacked the land (plagues 3-6) and then He attacked the sky (in plagues 7-10). God struck the three great sources of so-called divine powers in Egypt: the Nile, the Land and the Skies. By the end of it, Stephen Dempster explains, “The people must think that it is as if all of creation has become unhinged.” What was the right response? To acknowledge and worship God alone! As the Apostle Paul explains, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Suggestions for prayer Pray to our Father in Heaven, His name be hallowed! His awesome deeds give us hope and confidence in His constant care for us. Thank Him for the light of the knowledge of the glory of God which He has shone in our hearts! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 21 – God commands the darkness to swallow Egypt

They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. – Exodus 10:23 Scripture reading: Exodus 10:21-29; John 12:27-50 To blot out the light of the sun over the whole land of Egypt for three days is incredible. To simultaneously provide light to the people of Israel is even more incredible! In Egypt, they worshipped the sun god Ra who rose steadily every morning and then departed into the place where Egyptians believed death dwelt. But they always expected the light to return – and sure enough, through the rotation of the earth, the sun would reappear and the Egyptians would be heartened, thinking, “Our god has come through death’s place and returned to us alive and so shall we also be sustained!” The ninth plague begins without warning and it strikes a powerful blow to the whole idea of Egyptian worship of the sun god Ra. Where is this god who is suddenly cast down? For three days they experienced a darkness so thick and oppressive that they were filled with the terrors of the night. They knew the sense of dread that perhaps the sun and its light would never return. And what was the response of the Egyptians to be? The same response that many gave in Luke chapter 7 when Jesus performed a miracle in their presence: “And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’" (Luke 7:15-16). The LORD continues to reveal His glory and might in creation and calls us all to follow Christ Jesus with eager devotion and persistent gratitude. Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy God, for His awesome deeds and wondrous power! Thank Him that Christ Jesus is our Lamp and Shining Light in the midst of the world’s darkness. Thank Him for being the Light of the World! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 16 – God commands the water to become blood

Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood.” – Exodus 7:17 Scripture reading: Exodus 7:14-25; Revelation 16:1-16 From the perspective of the pagan Egyptians, it made good sense to worship such a mighty natural force as the river Nile. The name given to the Nile River god was 'Hapi' and she was depicted as a mother who had given birth to Egypt. The fertility of Egypt depended on this great river which allowed life in the middle of the sands. After Moses and Aaron present the serpent-sign in Pharaoh’s presence they are told by God to meet Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. It is likely that Pharaoh was there for a religious ritual. What were they to do? “Go out to the place where Pharaoh interacts with one of his gods,” the Lord is saying, “and put that god to death by striking it with your staff.” It's a powerful one-two punch combo! Your royal serpent figure? Swallowed. Your powerful and life-sustaining river god? Defiled and dead. Say what you will, but God has an amazing way of getting his point across, doesn't He? No other god can save a people from the hand of the LORD. Judgment awaits every foe of God. What a precious gift it is to believe in the Son whose shed blood now cleanses and renews us.  And never forget Jesus’ testimony, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Suggestion for prayer Pray for the blessing of the LORD for the ministry of His Gospel in all places around the world. Pray that many more would believe in Jesus and pass from death to life in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 15 – The Lord warns and Satan still tries to deceive Pharaoh

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. – Exodus 7:10-11 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-17; Exodus 7:8-13 Pharaoh and the Egyptians are about to be swallowed up by the might of the LORD God! The proof is directly in front of them. Pharaoh, represented by the vivid imagery of a cobra head poised and ready to strike, was confronted by a live snake on the ground before him which was poised and ready to strike. The serpent's appearance was a warning and a declaration of intent on God's part. And then the most deflating thing happened, didn't it? Through dark demonic powers, Pharaoh’s magicians did the same by their secret arts. The magicians and sorcerers bring into Pharaoh's presence another threatening force – poised to strike. TheSerpentmakes an appearance. In Revelation 12, the Prince of Darkness who rebelliously confronts the LORD is named as the ancient serpent. Satan, the deceiver, presents through these sorcerers an imitation of God's threat. Which threat would Pharaoh respond to? God threatens, “I will destroy you and swallow you up.” And in response, the prince of darkness responds with his own threat through these other sorcerers and magicians: “for each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents.” And Pharaoh thinks, “If you have one snake and my magicians have many snakes, I think I'll stick with them!” And then? “Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.” Don't you love that? God is superior to any challenger – and God's servants cannot be thwarted by the Serpent or by the powers that he gives to his followers. Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death and the evil one. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 14 – They shall all know that I am the Lord

Though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them. – Exodus 7:3-5 Scripture reading: Exodus 6:10-7:7 Up until now, the action in the book of Exodus has been more small-scale. Yes, the burning bush scene was quite something – but even that was a fiery scene witnessed by one man in the wilderness. Now we're at the doorstep and ready to dive into the ten plagues. Why did the LORD bring the plagues? He had previously explained this to Moses: “You shall know I am your God. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  In this chapter, we read that the signs and plagues will also be a testimony to the Egyptians who will come to acknowledge God’s supreme power over them. The mighty deeds of the LORD will be legendary! It’s disturbing, but unsurprising that we live in a time where many people ignore the truth that the LORD is sovereign over all. His might was displayed in Egypt and His saving purpose was foreshadowed in the events of the Exodus. The amazing impact of the good news of our salvation in Christ emerges when we remember that the LORD’s judgment of Egypt pales in comparison with the coming judgment for sin that shall take place on the last day. Yet, in Christ, every believer is assured that we have already undergone the judgment for sin because Jesus Christ has borne our judgment in His body on the cross! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy Father for graciously providing us with a Mediator Who was judged in our place. Ask Him to graciously open the hearts of our loved ones so that they may know that He is LORD and that He will save all who call out to Him in faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 13 – Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night (Jesus I come to Thee)

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. – Exodus 6:9 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:19-6:9 In John 12:46, Jesus declared, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” What wondrous news this is for sinners who need to be redeemed from the darkness! He came to bring the blessing of a new life to every believer. He came to bring us into a world of light in Him! The exodus from Egypt serves as a vivid preview of Jesus’ greater ministry to bring us out of a state of darkness and into the light of His presence. We do well to remember the dramatic change which the LORD brought to His people. As God said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do”. The LORD’s people were broken in spirit and burdened by harsh slavery. Their hope was fading. Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s command was emphatic. Their slavery was worse than before. What good could come out of this? Moses speaks in despair: “Since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." Our experience of hardship leaves such a mark on our faith. We begin to question God’s ability to actually help us. The LORD calls on us to look and see that His hand of deliverance has gone out to bring us from darkness into light! In the words of a familiar hymn: Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come! Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for rescuing you from the darkness of sin and bringing you into the light and joy of His presence. Ask Him for strength to overcome fear and despair as you remember that Christ has overcome all our enemies and shall soon return to bless us with everlasting life! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 8 – It shall not harm you

The LORD said to Moses, "Put out your hand and catch it by the tail"--so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- "that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." – Exodus 4:4-5 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-5; Psalm 121 "Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.” Now, don't try this at home. You can throw sticks on the ground as much as you like – that part is just fine. But grabbing a snake by its tail is a very risky business. A venomous snake moves most swiftly to strike anything which touches its body. That's why when you're snake catching, you try to nab it right behind its head and grasp it there. The tail flails around, but the head can't move if you have it securely grasped. God gave Moses a remarkable sign. He was to confront Pharaoh, whose emblem was a coiled serpent, and demonstrate that the serpent would not strike them. No harm would come to them from actual serpents, from Pharaoh as the Serpent Ruler of Egypt, or even the ancient Serpent who was anxious to harm God’s people. Moses will seize the serpent by the tail – and its mouth will be shut – its power will be stripped – and it will yield to the rod of the shepherd and literally become a rod again. The sign given by God to Moses makes plain that the serpent shall not harm his people. We know this with even greater clarity because Christ Jesus has bound our great adversary and tempter, Satan. By rising from the grave, Jesus has conquered every foe. By His action, He has gained us the victory over the powers of sin, death, and the darkness of the evil one! Suggestion for prayer Praise our Heavenly Lord for His victory which has gained us an everlasting peace with Him and an everlasting security from our foes through Jesus Christ! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 7 – Who shall I say you are?

Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:13-14 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:13-22 Jesus shocked the crowds in the temple when He declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” In a misguided attempt to protect the name of the LORD, they picked up stones to throw at Him. What was His offense, in their eyes? Jesus was declaring that He was God. Yet, Jesus was rightly revealing His Name to the crowds just as He had previously revealed Himself to Moses. For it was the Word of God Who spoke from the burning bush and provided assurance to Moses that it was by divine authority that Moses was to carry out his calling. In a way, we can identify with Moses’ hesitation, can’t we? Moses doubted himself, he feared the people and Moses was worried about Pharaoh. And amazingly, the LORD provides a powerful reassurance to His wavering servant: “Say this… I AM has sent me to you.” I can't do this. Lord, you call me to an impossible task. What is that for you? What part of your life feels impossible right now? Particularly, what area in your heart feels like a no-go zone in your fight to root out sin? What struggle do you face with others that feels like it is an insurmountable challenge? If we focus on Moses, we miss the much greater revelation happening: The LORD God, the maker of the heavens and the earth, made plain this everlasting truth for all who trust in Him: I AM with you to deliver you! Suggestion for Prayer Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 6 – How can we come near?

God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. – Exodus 3:4-6 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-12; Hebrews 12:18-29 To come into God’s presence, we must be pure of any sin and holy in heart and conduct. Like Moses, we are defiled by sin and need a priest who can cleanse us. This was why Moses was told not to come near to the burning bush and the Angel of the LORD who spoke to Him. Yet the great news in Hebrews chapter 10 is this: “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." We are invited to draw near through Christ our High Priest Who has washed our hearts and bodies clean of sin and corruption. Particularly in the aftermath of Jesus’ wondrous work of redemption and the offering of His shed blood and body for our sins, we are granted a new confidence and assurance to draw near to the majesty, splendor, and glory of our God! Jesus Christ has opened up a new and living way for us to come into the presence of our Holy God and live with joy in His presence! God comes near to Moses in the wilderness and gives Moses His Name to proclaim, His plan to carry out and His power to display signs of God’s intent to set His people free. He wants Moses to be His ambassador in Egypt. All that Moses will do serves as a preview of when Jesus would come to rescue His people from a greater foe and secure us forever. In Him, dear Christian, we draw near with newfound boldness and holiness! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He has completely provided what you need to draw near to Him without terror or dread! Pray that Jesus would be exalted in your conduct as you live in renewed holiness because of His perfecting work in you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 5 – God’s ways are not our ways

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:15-25; Isaiah 55 How was anything good to come from Moses’s sudden exodus from the land? Wasn’t he saved from the Nile River for a special mission? He’s 40 years old and well trained. He’s strong enough to be a powerful foe to the Egyptians, single-handedly taking the large lid off the well and imposing enough to drive away the aggressive shepherds. If you were a casting agent for social revolution, you would say Moses was your guy. But God’s ways are not our ways. The might of Moses will be diminished during his 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness away from the Hebrews of Egypt. It will not be mighty, well-connected Moses who leads the charge into the battle for Hebrew independence. No, God’s plan is to send an 80-year-old Moses to be His voice and a messenger with signs of power. Is this surprising? Yes! Just as a child born in a stable was a surprising turn of events for those who expected a king. Yet Jesus Christ was the Word of God Incarnate and the only One who could bring life to us through His death and resurrection. There is a lesson in the life of Moses that we need to learn too: that God’s perfect plan of deliverance involves times of suffering, hardship and pain for us to endure. But through it all, God is in control! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you peace in your circumstances as you await the day when you will enter the Promised Land of rest for all of God’s people. Pray for contentment when God’s plans for you seem hard to understand or experience. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

April 30 - Joy with Jesus

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given me, may be with me where I am…– John 17:24 Scripture reading: John 17:1-26 I want to conclude this month’s topic of joy focusing on one of my favorite verses. John 17 records Jesus’ high-priestly prayer in which we get a glimpse into the heart of our Saviour. In that prayer, Jesus reveals the desire of His heart: that all those whom the Father has given Him would be with Him. It’s one thing to long to be with Jesus. I desire to be with Him and dwell in that place where pain is gone and I will have eternal fellowship with Christ. But what John 17:24 says is that Jesus desires that too! Jesus wants me to be with Him. Jesus wants you to be with Him. It will be the most blessed experience to see our exalted Saviour and Lord in all His glory. To join the angels and that “multitude that no one can number” (Rev. 7:9) and to worship Him before His throne will be unimaginably glorious! And Jesus wants you there. But His desire is not like so many of our desires. We may desire something that will never come to pass. I desire to visit Israel, but I have no assurance it will happen. But do you think there is any prayer of Jesus that the Father will not grant? Is there any desire of Jesus that will go unfulfilled? By no means! That means you and I can have full assurance, 100% certainty that we will be with Jesus! That, dear brother or sister in Christ, should thrill your heart and fill you with great joy! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would increase your faith to see the blessed future awaiting you. Give thanks that God gives you joy today and for all eternity. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 29 - Future joy

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4 Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-7 As we have seen this month, the Bible speaks much about joy in the Christian life. But God’s Word does not paint a false picture of life. We also read about pain, hardship and difficulties. Though we don’t always understand why, we know God has His purposes for such trials and that His purposes are always for good. If you are in Christ, you can rest assured that God is foryou, not against you! What He does is for your edification and sanctification, not for your destruction. This month’s topic of JOY is not meant to minimize or ignore the reality of pain; it is meant to put hardships into perspective. As Christians, you are pilgrims, aliens and strangers on this earth. Your citizenship is in heaven. You are a child of God and He has reserved for you a future that is without pain. Think of it. When Christ returns in all His glory and the number of the elect is complete, He will inaugurate the new heaven and new earth in which you will live for eternity. This won’t be a temporary respite. God wants you to know that “the former things have passed away.” What former things? Tears. Death. Mourning. Crying. Pain. These will be eradicated, done away with, gone forever! When you recognize and believe this, you will have joy even while you experience hardships. Do you believe? Then you can say with Paul, “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would increase your faith to see the blessed future awaiting you and that the Holy Spirit would give you joy even as you shed tears, hurt or mourn. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 28 - Joy in worship

True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. - John 4:24 Scripture reading: John 4:1-26 Since joy, in some measure, ought to be present in every believer and since worship should include the believer’s heartfelt response to the Saviour, it follows that true worship should be joyful. Joy isn’t the only thing, but it is an essential thing. Jesus responded to the Samaritan woman's question about worship with these words: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). What does this mean? William Hendriksen rightly explains it in his Commentary on John’s Gospel: “…worshiping in spirit and truth can only mean a) rendering such homage to God that the entire heart enters into the act, and b) doing this in full harmony with the truth of God as revealed in His Word. Such worship, therefore, will not only be spiritual instead of physical, inward instead of outward, but it will also be directed to the trueGod as set forth in Scripture and as displayed in the work of redemption.” Our worship must avoid what God described in Isaiah 29:13 and repeated by Jesus in Matthew 15:8, 9: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Today, worship the Lord in spirit and truth, with joy in your heart. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would find in you the kind of worshipper He is seeking and that your heart will be filled with the joy of the Lord today. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 27 - Angelic wonder

…things into which angels long to look.- 1 Peter 1:12 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:3-12 I’m curious about angels. Not the fat little-winged baby cherubs depicted in medieval art, but those beings depicted in Scripture – the ones that elicited great fear in humans. Far from cute babies floating on clouds, the Bible portrays them as powerful warrior-like beings. God created them before He created our world (Job 38:6-7). They are a set number; that is, they don’t multiply. Lucifer and a third of the host of angels were cast out of Heaven because of their pride and rebellion against God. In 1 Peter 1:12, Peter interestingly states that there are things into which angels long to look. There’s a certain curiosity that the angels have. But what are these things that angels desire to look into? They witnessed the righteous judgment of God when He cast Lucifer and a third of their number out of Heaven. They saw what happens when the creature rebels against his Creator. The angels understand law and justice. But Peter is talking about the gospel and that is a different category than law and justice. For angels to now see the Creator respond to rebellious creatures in mercy, in grace, in love – to see Him send His own Son as a sacrifice for that rebellious lot – now that is something to look into. It is grace unknown and love beyond degree! That is the gospel, and that is our joy! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have the same awe and wonder of God’s sovereign grace as do the angels and that you would rest in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you, and be filled with joy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 22 - The joy of believing

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.- Hebrews 11:1 Scripture reading: John 20:24-29 Thomas wasn’t present when the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself to the other disciples a week earlier. When they told Thomas about it, he said he wouldn’t believe unless he had visible and tangible proof. Thomas was ever the practical skeptic. It wasn’t that Thomas had no faith, but I think it is fair to say that he had weak faith. In John 11, when Jesus told the disciples that He was going to Bethany because of Lazarus’ death and they all knew this was dangerous because the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus, it was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” In John 14, when Jesus prepared His disciples for His imminent departure and said to them, “That where I go you may be also,” it was Thomas who said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” And here in John 20, the loving Jesus humbly submitted to this skeptic’s demands. All the disciples were gathered behind locked doors and Jesus came to them and spoke directly to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side…” And that was enough for Thomas who responds with a beautiful profession, “My Lord and My God!” That’s when Jesus mentioned you and me. He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This means that if you are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ and the gospel, Jesus says you are blessed! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit would work to increase your faith and that the knowledge that you are blessed would fill you with joy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 21 - Resurrection joy

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord." - John 20:18 Scripture reading: John 20:1-18 It is clear from reading John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection that Mary Magdalene didn’t expect Jesus to rise from the dead. When she went to the tomb early in the morning and found it empty, her first reaction was not, “He arose” but rather, “Someone has taken the body” (v. 1). Then a little later, when the angels asked her why she was weeping, she answered, “They have taken away my Lord” (v. 13). You see, Mary and Jesus’ other followers lived in the same world we live in, a world in which dead people don’t rise again. That is precisely John’s point in this passage. While our experience tells us that dead people don’t rise again, Jesus actually did. People who weren’t expecting to see Jesus alive again saw and believed. Some speak of the resurrection as a “symbol” of Jesus’ continuing influence in the world, but scoff at the idea that He actually rose from the dead, bodily. But John and the other Gospels record eyewitness accounts that Jesus, after He was laid in the tomb, was actually seen upright and walking, heard talking, ate meals and was touched. And this must be the case, else we have no Saviour. His death on the cross conquered death so that death could not hold Him. His resurrection was the Father’s approbation of Christ’s atonement. His resurrection is the promise and guarantee of the resurrection of His people. It was no “symbol” or metaphor. He really rose from the dead. Hallelujah! Christ arose! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the guarantee that when He returns, your body will be raised to eternal life. Pray that the church will never compromise the message that Jesus actually, bodily rose from the dead. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 20 - For the joy set before him

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:1-17                                                                Yesterday was Good Friday, the day that Christ, the Lamb of God, in full obedience to the Father, gave His life as a substitutionary atonement for our sins. He was wounded for our transgressions and was bruised for our iniquities. And yet, despite the pain and shame and rejection, Jesus was joyful. He had spoken about His joy just before His arrest in the Upper Room with His disciples. In Hebrews 12, we are encouraged to keep running the race of faith, all the while looking to Jesus. Not only was Jesus joyful while on earth, but He looked forward to a fuller and greater joy ahead. It was the joy of a mission accomplished. He endured the pain, suffering and shame of the cross because He knew that there was even greater joy on the other side. We too are blessed with joy today, but there is a greater joy ahead. And realizing that blessedness should encourage us to keep running the race of faith. We might be discouraged, weary and worn out, but “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9). For the joy that is set before you, keep running! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would take your eyes off your circumstances and be focused on Jesus. Rejoice that Christ your Saviour is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 19 - Jesus’ seventh word on the cross

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” - Luke 23:46 Scripture reading: Luke 23:44-49 This word, like the fourth and fifth, is a quotation from Psalms. Psalm 31:5 says, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Jesus began His ministry with the Scriptures on His lips when Satan tempted Him and now He breathes His last with the Word of God on His lips. Luke tells us that Jesus spoke this seventh word after the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Since Christ had accomplished His mission, the way into the Holy of Holies is now open. Christ Himself is the way, the truth and the life. Luke also says that He spoke this word with a loud voice. This is significant. Jesus had said,“No one takes My life from Me; I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). This means that death didn’t come until Jesus allowed it to come. When He was ready, He embraced it. He didn’t die in weakness, but in strength. He didn’t speak with a whimper, but with a loud voice. And further, He says, “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” I commit, not as some passive, helpless victim, but as the One Who holds the keys of death. Jesus died, safe and secure in the Father’s hands. Understand that He did so as our mediator and substitute. As He committed His spirit into His Father’s hands, He is committing our spirits into His Father’s hands. Like Jesus, we can die safely and securely because our covenant head and Saviour died safely and securely. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have the joy and peace of being secure in the Father’s hands. Give thanks that Jesus has conquered death. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 14 - Jesus’ second word on the cross

And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."- Luke 23:43 Scripture reading: Luke 23:35-43 We might view the conversion of the thief on the cross as a peculiar and singular event. There are aspects of this encounter that are unique. The criminal was near death, had no opportunity to join the church in Jerusalem and was hanging next to Jesus on a cross. But, his conversion is really very similar to that of every person who is saved. We are all saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Notice the faith of this criminal. What he saw with his eyes was a beaten, bleeding man hanging in agony on a cross. Jesus didn’t appear to be the King of Glory and Son of God. Yet, in spite of the mocking unbelief of others, this man put his trust in Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” God opened his eyes of faith so that he saw Jesus for Who He really was. And he believed. Jesus’ response shows His power and grace. Even on the cross, in agony, He is powerful to save. Christ made that sinful criminal fit for heaven in a moment. The thief didn’t have to spend time in purgatory or try to clean up the mess of his life. Jesus’ atonement is sufficient and effective to save right now. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” See what joy this brings. Your salvation does not depend on your works, your efforts, or your abilities. Like the criminal, we come to Jesus saying, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would open the eyes of faith of friends and family who do not yet believe and that God would restore to you the joy of your salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 13 - Jesus’ first word on the cross

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."- Luke 23:34 Scripture reading: Luke 23:18-34 Looking forward to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to spend the next several days looking at the seven words of Christ on the cross. My prayer is that you will find and experience great joy in hearing and understanding them. The spiritual leaders of Israel, in hatred and jealousy, brought charges of blasphemy and sedition against Jesus. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, cowardly washed his hands of this debacle. The Roman soldiers scornfully beat and mocked Jesus. Finally, they nailed Him to the cross between two criminals so that the sinless Son of God was, as Isaiah had prophesied, “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah53:12). Jesus didn’t rant and rave against His oppressors, He didn’t defend Himself against the injustice of it all. Instead, the first words from His lips are, “Father, forgive them.” Forgiveness. This is why Jesus came into the world – to forgive sins. When Joseph wondered what to do about Mary when she was pregnant, the angel reassured him and said, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” This first word of Christ on the cross brings great joy to sinners like you and me. We cannot out-sin His grace. And just as He interceded for the sinners of His day, so He continues to lovingly intercede for you and me today. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hallelujah! What a Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will forgive your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and give thanks that Jesus is your great High Priest Who continues to intercede for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 12 - Jesus’ joy

But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. - John 17:13 Scripture reading: John 17:1-13 Jesus prayed that we would have His joy. What does that look like? How are we to understand His joy, much less experience it? First, Jesus’ joy is a holy joy. It is, if I may put it this way, a “serious” joy. It is not flippant. It is not showy or boisterous. It is not produced. It is the joy that results in being in fellowship with the Father. And that is precisely what Christ has accomplished for us – fellowship with the Father. He has the joy of that fellowship and prays that you and I may have the same joy. Second, when Jesus speaks of His joy, He is speaking of the joy that comes from Himself. As we’ve already seen, Jesus is the source of all joy. It is impossible to have true, lasting joy apart from Jesus. Third, Jesus’ joy is a joy completely independent of earthly circumstances. Jesus was about to be crucified and He knew it, but that didn’t affect His joy. He would soon be leaving His disciples in this world full of hatred, anger and murderous intent. Yet, He prayed that they would be more than conquerors filled to overflowing with His joy. And that is His prayer for you and me. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be able to know Jesus' joy in spite of your circumstances. Rejoice that though you were once alienated from God, in Christ you’ve been reconciled. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 11 - Joy in this world

But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.- John 17:13 Scripture reading: John 17:1-13 In John 17, just before His arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father with the disciples listening in. Often referred to as His High Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed several petitions for His followers. He was fully aware of what was about to transpire, yet one of His petitions was that the disciples would have His joy. In spite of His imminent crucifixion, Jesus had joy. There are some people who think that being a Christian is a joyless life in which you will miss out on all the fun. Or they say that whatever joy a Christian might experience will only be in the future. Satan, the father of lies, would have us think that we’re missing out. But that clearly isn’t Jesus’ position. Remember that Jesus had just said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus intentionally prayed this prayer in the disciples hearing so that they would have His joy immediately. Yes, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for them (and us), and our eternal existence in the “new heavens and the new earth” will be joyful beyond our imagining. But it isn’t only for that future that He has redeemed us. We are to enjoy the blessings of our redemption in this world as well as in the world to come. And one of those blessings is joy. The Christian is meant to be joyful today. Suggestions for prayer Be thankful that your future is one of joy unimaginable and pray that you will experience the true foretaste of that joy today. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 6 - Joy in God’s revelation

In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches… I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget Your Word.- Psalm 119:14,16 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:1-16 While joy in our salvation in Christ is the fountain, that joy naturally carries over to all the blessings we have in Christ. The Christian’s joy is multi-faceted. We find joy in the reality that we’ve been saved and justified in Christ Jesus, but as a result, we find joy in all aspects of Christian life. We recognize that because we are in Christ, all that we are and have are blessings from God. These increase our joy. And one of those blessings is His Word. The Psalmist in Psalm 119 delights in God’s Word. God’s Word always has been and continues to be a source of joy to God’s people. Meditating on God’s written revelation will bring joy to the Christian. But what is it about the Word of God that causes the Psalmist, and us, to delight in it? First, the primary purpose of God’s Word is to reveal to us the way of salvation. After Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis3:15). The rest of the Bible tells us how God has fulfilled that promise, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Second, the Bible is the clearest revelation of God. In God’s Word, God tells us about Himself. Third, the Bible instructs us on the kind of life that is pleasing to God. We delight in God’s Word because our natural reaction to our supernatural salvation from God is to love Him and live for Him. And God’s Word tells us what that looks like. Suggestions for prayer Pray that when you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit would open your mind and heart to understand and thatGod’s Word would be your delight. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 5 - Joy in the God of my salvation

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. - Habakkuk 3:18b Scripture reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19 When the Bible speaks of our joy, we discover that it is the Christian’s response to all the blessings we have from God. But the wellspring, the fount of joy is our salvation in Jesus Christ. For example, James instructs us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2). But we cannot be joyful in our trials apart from our salvation in Christ. In Psalm 119 the Psalmist says that he delights in God’s Word, in God’s commands and in God’s testimonies. But we cannot find joy in God’s revelation without being in Christ. At the end of Luke’s gospel, just after Jesus’ ascension, we read that His disciples “worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). But we cannot worship joyfully apart from being in Christ. Habakkuk was a prophet during very difficult days. In the short, Old Testament book of Habakkuk the prophet raises complaints to God about the sorry state of affairs in Judah. He is burdened because God seems to be indifferent to the appalling spiritual condition of His people (Habakkuk 1:2-4). But after God answers his complaints, Habakkuk responds with those beautiful words, “I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Is that your joy? God sent His only begotten Son to save you. He is the God of your salvation. Do you take joy in Him? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would impress on you His great love for you. So great is His love that He gave Jesus to be your salvation. Pray that your joy would be evident and recognized by others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 4 - Joy & peace

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.- John 16:33 Scripture reading: John 16:25-33 Being a Christian does not mean you become immune to the hardships of life. Anyone who’s lived long enough knows that we suffer pain and sickness, financial hardships, death of family or friends, inter-personal conflicts and are scorned by the world for holding Biblical convictions. Granted, there are some false teachers that preach a “health and wealth” gospel, but they didn’t learn that from Jesus. He made it clear that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute His followers. And, in the passage above, He says, “in this world you will have tribulation.” Not “might have,” but “will have.” But Jesus then says “take heart.” Do not wallow in your hardships. Do not despair. Take heart! He isn’t saying “just grin and bear it.” He tells us that He has overcome the world. The hurts and pains we experience are temporary. As Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Why? Because Christ has overcome the world and He will make all things new. This truth affords the Christian a “peace that passes understanding” because by faith the Christian can see beyond the present circumstances. And that, in turn, brings great joy to the believer. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would remove the hardships, or reconcile the conflicts in your life and that if it is His will to allow these to remain, you will trust in the future grace of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 3 - Abide in me

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.- John 15:11 Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 In chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel, Jesus is alone with His disciples in the upper room. These chapters are often referred to as “The Upper Room Discourse” because in them our Lord teaches and speaks words of comfort to His beloved disciples. In the middle of that discourse, Jesus tells the disciples, and us, that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, He says, we can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, we cannot bear fruit. Apart from Jesus, we are nothing but withering branches, only good for being “gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (v. 6). So Jesus lovingly instructs and encourage us to abide in Him. Only then will we thrive, bear fruit and live. Only then will we know the joy that Jesus promises. As we focus our attention this month on Christian joy, I want to impress on you that it is only by abiding in Christ that we can and will have joy. Romance will not bring lasting joy. Recreation and sports cannot offer lasting joy. Politics and governments cannot bring you joy. Only by abiding in Christ will you have joy. Why? Because He is the ultimate and only source of joy! To abide in Jesus means that you believe the good news of the gospel. It means that you are resting in and trusting in His righteousness, not your own. It means that you humbly embrace His atonement on your behalf – so that your joy may be full. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would truly believe and know the comfort and joy of belonging to Jesus and that we would bear fruit for Christ’s glory and our neighbor’s good. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

March 29 - He cares for you 

...casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 55 Verse 7 is governed by the verb in the previous verse. This means that humility is not just a negative lowering of oneself, but rather an active reliance or trust in God Who is able to handle our burdens, anxieties and cares. Peter literally means to throw or fling all your anxieties on the Lord. What kind of image does this make in your mind? This reminds me of when I was young and I used to chop wood for our family wood stove. I needed to carry the cut wood into the shed, so I would pick up each stick one by one until I had a big load in my arms. Well, I didn’t take the wood off one by one like I did when I picked them up. What did I do? It was a heavy load, so I threw them down on the pile as quickly as I could! This is just like us. We pick up our cares one by one and each time we add something we get weighed down just as if that heavy load of wood is in our arms. It’s very difficult to take those burdens off one by one. What does the Lord tell you to do with all your cares, burdens, and anxieties? Throw them off yourself and down on Him! Let Him bear the full weight of them all! He is willing because He cares for you. Are you willing to  "Cast your burden on the LORD" (Psalm 55:22)? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He cares for you and wants to help you with your burdens. Ask the Lord to enable you to cast your cares upon Him and not just bear them on your own. Thank the Lord that we can truly have rest for our souls in Christ (Matt. 11:28). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 28 - Are you humble? (2) 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. - 1 Peter 5:6 Scripture reading: Proverbs 11 Peter continues his teaching on humility in verse 6. He tells us to humble ourselves so that God may exalt us. Pride can be viewed as dependence or confidence in oneself. A person may think he is fully independent of others and self-sufficient. Is this true? Are we completely self-sufficient without any dependence on others? The reality is, no matter where we are in life, we do rely on others. We all appreciate family, friends, employers, customers, retail workers, doctors and nurses and the list goes on. Think about all the people you rely on each day to make your life better and easier. We are not truly alone. There is One Who is actually in your life whether you recognize it or not. The Lord directs all of your affairs by an all-wise Providence. You don’t live in a chance world. Peter brings us to the place where we need to recognize God working in our lives. Humility is having a full dependence on and confidence in God. This verse could be translated allow yourselves to be humbled, under the mighty hand of God. We must permit ourselves to be humbled. We must consent to let God take control. We must surrender to His will as He knows what is best for us. His hand is mighty and powerful. He breaks the power of sin and pride and molds us to be like Christ by His Spirit. He will exalt us in due time. Will you allow yourself to be humbled? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord He is faithful and powerful so that we can truly depend upon Him. Praise the Lord that when we humbly submit to Him, He will exalt us in His perfect time. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Are you humble? (1) 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. - 1 Peter 5:5-6 Scripture reading: Philippians 2 How important is humility? According to Peter very important! Pride not only hurts our relationship with God, but also our relationship with others. How many friendships and marriages have been damaged or ruined over hurtful or angry words? How many families and workplaces have been divided by resentment and bitterness? How many reputations have been ruined through jealousy and hateful gossip? How true are the words, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). Do you have a humble spirit or have you allowed pride to impact your relationship with your spouse? Family member? Co-worker? Even Christ Himself? Peter declares, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."How can we clothe ourselves with humility? The term clothe refers to a servant’s garment or apron that would be worn over other clothing and tied so that it would stay tightly fixed to the body. Peter’s imperative here is that humility must be part of us like a garment tightly wrapped around the body so it can’t fall off. This garment is to be on all the time and never removed. Humility is essential in the Christian life. Just as Paul taught when he said in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Why do this? "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." How important is humility to you? Suggestions for prayer Give praise to God; He is willing to give His grace to the humble. If you struggle with pride, ask the Lord to grant you grace and help today so that you can repent of this sin and come to Him with humility and faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 26 - Biblical leadership  

So I exhort the elders among you,… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. - 1 Peter 5:1-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5; Titus 1 What makes for a spiritually healthy church? I could list many things that would contribute to the health of a church, but the most important is a strong dedication to the Word of God as our only authority for faith and practice. What makes a strong dedication to God’s Word happen? The answer is strong leadership. Most churches stand firm or fall with the quality of their leadership. Of course, leaders can’t fulfill their calling without supportive and spiritually minded members of the church. Both leaders and members must be Biblically minded and work together in humility with a desire to serve Christ so that the church can grow and flourish. Even though this text is directed towards elders, it should speak to all of us to recognize the importance of Biblical leadership in the church. The primary task of the elder is to shepherd the flock of God. Like the Good Shepherd, this means he is to pray for, guide, care for and nurture the church which is Christ’s flock. He is to exercise spiritual oversight over the church to ensure the faithful preaching of God’s Word and that the purity of the Word, the sacraments, the doctrines and holiness of life are maintained. This is a calling he accepts willingly and reverently and not for shameful gain or benefit. He is not to abuse his authority and be domineering, harsh or arrogant, but to be an example of Christ. May the Lord give us strong Biblical leadership! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will give us Biblical and faithful elders and pastors to lead Christ’s church on earth and pray for and support the leaders the Lord has called to have oversight in His church. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 21 - We are living stones

...you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 2:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 40 Because Jesus is called the Living Stone, His covenant people are also called living stones being built up as a spiritual house through faith in Him. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). As Jesus continues to build His church, believers are the bricks that make up His building, the church. In fact, every time someone comes to faith in Christ another stone is taken from the pit of destruction and is placed on the rock that cannot be moved (Psalm 40:1-3). This text also teaches the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer. In the Old Testament, only the priests could come near to God by offering sacrifices and incense on His altar. Only the High Priest, and only once a year, could enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the people. But now, Christ our High Priest has offered Himself once for all as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. All believers now have direct access to God’s presence through Christ, our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). We don’t need a human priest or a bloody sacrifice since Christ is all-sufficient for us. But we offer up to God other spiritual sacrifices as priests. We offer ourselves (Romans 12:1-2), to share the gospel (Romans 15:16), and to praise our God (Hebrews 13:15-16). What a privilege we have to be a part of His church, a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22)! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord He has taken us from the pit of destruction and placed us on the rock which is Christ. Thank Him that Jesus is still building His church and that we are living stones built up in Him and that as priests, it is our privilege to offer ourselves to Him in service and praise. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 20 - Our living stone!

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious. - 1 Peter 2:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 118 How does Peter describe Jesus for us? He is a Living Stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God. This means that the Lord has set forth Christ to be the great foundation upon which the Church is built. How do we come to Him? Of course, we come to Him in salvation when we first believed. But that is not what Peter has in mind here. The verb tense he uses means we are to come to Christ repeatedly. This does not refer to our conversion, but to our daily communion with Him. We must come to Christ continually so that we may be built up in Him. Peter calls Jesus a Living Stone. He is living in that He died for our sins, but was raised from the dead and is alive, gaining victory over sin, death, and hell. He is the author and giver of life, able to impart spiritual life to all who believe in Him. Because He is living, Christianity is not a religion of dead rituals, superficial worship, and paying lip service to God. It is a relationship with the living Lord of the universe! Christ is the only solid foundation for your faith for time and eternity. This should be very comforting because your faith rests on what Christ has done for you. You can put your trust in Him and know that you will not be disappointed or put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). Is Jesus your Living Stone? Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He has given us Jesus, our Living Stone! That there is no other foundation for our faith and that when we place our faith and trust in Him we will never be disappointed. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 19 - Desire pure spiritual milk

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:1-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2 As we now come into chapter two, Peter gives us a list of five things we are not to possess as Christians. These are not the only things that hinder our growth in Christ. Peter uses a figure of speech here, where the part represents the whole. Peter just finished telling us in chapter one that holiness and love for others are to mark every aspect of the Christian life. The Greek word for put away means to get rid of or to remove. Any vice must be removed like clothes that are dirty and defiled. We are to strip off anything that spoils our holiness and love for God and others. What place do malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander have in your heart as a believer in Christ? Does Christ not save us from all forms of vice and wickedness? What should we desire? The believer is to crave one thing, the truth of God’s Word. Just as babies need fresh milk and good nutrition to grow up strong and healthy, so we also need the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. Newborn babies have an intense craving for their mother’s milk. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m., if they’re hungry, they let you know about it and don’t stop until they are fed! When was the last time you had such a desire for God’s Word? It is only through the Bible that we may grow up to salvation and know that the Lord is good. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you deal with any type of vice and sin in your heart. Pray that the Lord would grant you a strong desire to know His Word and that you would experience His goodness in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

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