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Daily devotional

March 3 – God’s glory and God’s rest

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” – Genesis 2:2

Scripture reading: Hebrews 4:1-11

In Genesis one, we read about God bringing form in formlessness by subduing chaos and disorder. The first three days He forms light, sky, land and vegetation. Then for three days, He fills the forms: light-bearers for the day and night, birds and fish in the sky and water, and animals and people on the land.

In the beginning of Genesis two, we read about God resting on the seventh day. First, God rests from His work of creating, but it also means that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Truly, everything that He had made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory.

This harmonious creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail that is missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days of creating, we read that there was an evening and a morning. However, with the seventh day, we do not read this. This does not mean that the seventh day did not have an evening and a morning. However, by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s good creation was meant to last forever. Not in the beginning stage as we saw yesterday, but in the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and the new earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God on which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9).

Suggestions for prayer

Thank your heavenly Father for your hope of glory: entering into the fullness of the joyful rest and peace of God’s loving presence.

Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren.

Daily devotional

February 27 – Sin and shin (1): Perfection

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

Daily devotional

February 26 – Resh: Look, consider, and act

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

Daily devotional

February 25 – Qoph: Reliance

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

Daily devotional

February 24 – Tsadhe (2): Righteous by faith

“My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words…Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.” – Psalm 119:139, 144 Scripture reading: Romans 1:16-25 In this stanza, we see that the psalmist is in agreement with that greatest of scholars, the apostle Paul himself, and with the greatest of his writings, the book of Romans. He is also especially in agreement with the central theme of Scriptures, the gospel of salvation, which is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16,17). Through faith, by God’s grace alone, we can be righteous. Washed through the cleansing of Christ’s blood and filled with Christ’s righteousness, we are blessed with salvation and life forever. Also, filled with the Spirit, we walk in newness of life and begin already in this life to live in the righteous (obedient) deeds of thankfulness. We are conceived and born in sin and thus subject to all sorts of misery in this life, even to condemnation: “I am small and despised” (141), and, “Trouble and anguish have found me out” (143). Nevertheless, we experience the coming to life of the new nature, the rebirth, regeneration and renewal through the Holy Spirit, so that “zeal consumes me” (139) and “your commandments are my delight” (143). Further. “Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it” (140)! By the grace of God, working faith, we are saved from sin and misery and God’s law is our joy and delight! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God fills you continually with His Holy Spirit so that you are assured of your righteousness before God through faith alone and that you are zealous for good deeds in His kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 19 – Samekh (1): Mercy

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

Daily devotional

February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 16 – Mem: Praise for the God of the book

“I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.” – Psalm 119:102  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:97-104 Many churches today are limiting or even abandoning the reading of God’s law in the worship service. That is an unfortunate development. Today’s stanza shows why. This part of the psalmist’s prayer contains no requests, but consists entirely of testimony and praise to God for His law. The psalmist explains what God’s law does for him. First, the law brings delight. “Oh how I love your law!” (97) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth…therefore I hate every false way” (103,104). The darkness and danger of worldly ways stand in stark contrast to the joy and delight of faithful living. Second, the law is a constant companion. “It is my meditation all the day…it is ever with me” (97,98). Like a good friend, the law is always at our side, teaching, admonishing and helping us to understand God, ourselves and the world. Third, the law produces wisdom. “Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies…I have more understanding than all my teachers…I understand more than the aged” (98-100). Through the law, we ordinary believers gain a wisdom greater than some of the smartest people around. Fourth, the law is a guide. “I hold back my feet from every evil way…I do not turn aside from your rules” (101). The law helps us to make good and happy decisions. Finally, the law reveals God. “For you have taught me” (102). Whatever we learn from the law, we learn from God Himself. God’s law does a lot for us. But don’t worship the book; rather, praise the Lord of the book. Suggestions for prayer Pray that when you hear God’s law in church today, you will receive it as a catalyst for praise and an opportunity to testify of God’s goodness and grace! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 11 – Heth: Permanence

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

Daily devotional

February 10 – Zayin: Living and active comfort

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

Daily devotional

February 9 – Waw: Walking and talking

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

Daily devotional

February 8 – He: Put on the new self

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” – Psalm 119:36-37  Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalm 119:33-40 The Psalmist, through faith, recognizes the battle that goes on within, between the two selves, between his old nature and his new nature. He wants to do what is right, but he finds that he often struggles against the desire for riches (36) and his heart is turned toward idols (37). The apostle Paul shows in Romans 7 that this is an age-old problem for believers and a normal struggle for Christians. The wonderful news is that because of Jesus Christ there is a possibility of inner struggle and spiritual battle! Christ came to this world to battle sin. He has done that decisively through life-long obedience, through His death on the cross and by way of His resurrection from the dead. True faith is to look outside of yourself to Jesus Christ. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 4. You did not so learn Christ, he says. True faith is no longer relying on yourself to fight sin, but looking to Christ, praying for His Spirit to work faith and renewal, and so die to the old nature and put on the new nature. In that power, our hearts are inclined more and more to God’s will and way. We turn our eyes from worthless, worldly things and focus on the true treasure which is in heaven. Let us turn our eyes from evil. Let us turn our hearts from worshiping idols. Let us keep our mouth from speaking lies. And we will find rest for our souls. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that you experience spiritual struggle and inner warfare against sin, the devil and his whole dominion. Without Christ we would have no ability to fight. Pray that you follow Christ and win the battles in His name. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 3 – Aleph (3): Blessed

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

Daily devotional

February 2 – Aleph (2): Delighting in Torah

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

January 31 – Proverbs on the home

“The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just.”  Scripture reading: Proverbs 17:1-6 A home is not a house. A home is a place where a family lives. A Christian home is where a Christian family lives in unity, preparing for and doing the work of the Lord. In a Christian home there is peace even if there is not a lot of food. We know that “Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting with strife” (Prov. 17:1). A Christian home is a place where brothers and sisters help and protect each other. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). A Christian home is a place of safety. You don’t have to wonder if you are welcomed. What happens if there is no peace in the home? One wants to run away from it. Proverbs 21:9 says it is, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Yes, a house without peace (Peace only comes from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ) is a place of misery. Proverbs 15:25 warns, “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.” Sin is a menace to any home. Proverbs 15:27 notes, “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.” What is the remedy for a corrupt house? Know God’s Word, believe in Jesus and hold on to Him for dear life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will preserve peace and unity in the home, unity based on Jesus and that you will not ignore the mutual duties in the home. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 26 – Proverbs on honesty

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

Daily devotional

January 25 – Proverbs on the duty of the mothers

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

Daily devotional

January 24 – Proverbs on justice

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

Daily devotional

January 23 – Proverbs on adultery

“Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men.” – Proverbs 7:25-26 Scripture reading: Proverbs 2:10-19 It is easy to fall into lusts that lead to adultery. The wicked woman flatters you with her words. Her lips drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. She lures you with her beauty and her long eyelashes. She kisses you. She pretends she is making peace offerings and wants you to celebrate with her. She covers her bed with perfume. What are the consequences of adultery? Adultery leaves you with spiritual pain (and physical pain as well), like when you eat poisonous food that is sweetened with sugar. Adultery leads you to the grave. The adulteress will take away your strength and the best years of your life. The adulteress will reduce to a simple loaf of bread, Solomon wrote! (Proverbs 6:26). You will be burned. You will fall in a pit. Solomon knew this. He knew it in an experiential way. How should you deal with temptation to commit adultery? Be satisfied with the blessing of your life and “drink water from your own cistern” (Proverbs 5). It is safe. It is healthy. (If you are single, this is good reason to be married.) Stay away from wicked women (or men). Learn to guard your eye. You often can’t avoid the first look, but what about the second look and the lustful look? What will make you remain pure? Knowing that you are fully satisfied in Jesus Christ is the only ground that will truly keep you from sinning against the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be satisfied with your spouse or that you will find one if you don’t have one and that you and your spouse will encourage each other in faithfulness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 18 – Proverbs on women

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

Daily devotional

January 17 – Proverbs on work

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

Daily devotional

January 16 – Proverbs on wicked people

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

Daily devotional

January 15 – Proverbs on divine protection

“Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” – Proverbs 30:5 Scripture reading: Proverbs 2:1-8 You probably heard of ADT. It is a popular home security company. But can they really prevent most dangers? They can’t really protect your body. The most they can do is call for the ambulance, fire department or police. They can’t protect your soul. You need someone else and Solomon spoke of Him. God is able to protect you. He said so. Solomon’s father said that even when you go through the “valley of the shadow of death” God is able to keep you. He protects you by His angels. He protects you by giving you wisdom. He watches over you all the time. We read in Proverbs 15:3 that: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” God even destroys your enemies when it suits Him. Why does God protect you? He protects you because you are His children and He loves you. Proverbs 2:8 says: “He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.” Even sinful, earthly fathers try to protect their children. This does not take away your responsibility. Proverbs 13:3 tells us: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” You guard yourself by following the Lord’s commands. As Proverbs 19:16 says: “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.” The two tables of God’s laws are like rails to a train. You are safe when you remain on them! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn to trust God’s sovereignty and that you will not worry about your or your children’s future and that you will not fear disease and death. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 10 – Proverbs on giving and receiving honor

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

Daily devotional

January 9 – Proverbs on friends and neighbors

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

Daily devotional

January 8 – Proverbs on discipline of children

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

Daily devotional

January 7 – Proverbs on taking advice

“By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” – Proverbs 13:10 Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:25-27 Some people think they know everything and so they don’t want to take any advice. Other people struggle with pride so they don’t want to take advice. But the reality is that every single person at one time or another (and for most of us, many times) needs advice. When you take advice, you not only evidence a humble spirit, but you are also equipped to better serve the Lord. Taking advice is a mark of wisdom. Through taking advice you gain wisdom. If you don’t take advice, you are foolish and you won’t be able to be effective for the kingdom. Remember the foolishness of King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and how he lost most of the kingdom for taking bad advice! And didn’t Napoleon ignore advice about the Russian winter and faced a horrible defeat? So take advice. Take sound advice from those who are grounded in the Lord and know more than you. The Lord stores wisdom in others. Draw from them. Later in life you will be able to pass on that advice. As Proverbs 15:22 says: Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established. Your Wonderful Counselor, Who Himself is the personification of wisdom, saved you and will equip you through His Word and through His servants! Listen carefully. Listen to the Lord and live. Only He has good advice. The Devil pretends to be wise, but he leads men to their death! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would not be a know-it-all and that you would seek advice from others to do the work the Lord has called you to in the home, church and society. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 2 - Proverbs on fear

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

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of January

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

December 30 – The character of the King’s return

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” – Revelation 1:7  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:9-18; 19:11-21 On Christmas Day we looked back in time to remember Jesus' first Advent, but we look forward to His second Advent. And it will be very different in character. Jesus' first Advent was not noticed by many people. Only a few shepherds, and later, some wise men from the east, came to see the newborn King. Interestingly, Jesus' enemies looked for Him, but could not find Him. What a contrast to His second coming where Jesus will be noticed by everyone and His enemies will not be able to flee from Him. Jesus came to earth the first time as a humble, helpless babe wearing not a prince's garb, but swaddling cloths. He lay not in a cradle, but an animal's feeding trough. His birthplace was not a palace, but a barn. However, when Jesus returns, He will come as a mighty, majestic King wrapped in flowing, royal robe, riding a royal steed, and wielding a double-edged sword. Jesus' first coming focused on bringing salvation to His people through His atoning death. His second coming focuses on bringing judgment upon His enemies through their eternal death. When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised, the earth will quake and a final fault-line will be formed as the final separation takes place. All those standing on Satan's side will be swallowed up by eternal death in hell. But those on Jesus' side will live on the green grass of God's new creation from that day forward and forevermore. Whose side do you stand on? Where does your loyalty lie? Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus that if you trust in Him, you can confidently await His return as Judge, for on the cross He already stood trial in your place and removed God's wrath when He bore the curse for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

December 22 – Prophets promise Christ’s coming (1): A Christmas stump

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1  Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-16 As promised, a remnant returned to the Promised Land. But only a remnant. When you hear "remnant," think "remainder." In mathematics, ninety-nine divided by five is nineteen, remainder four. Four is but a small fraction of the ninety-nine – a mere four percent! That's about the size of the group that returned to Jerusalem – a small fraction of the whole. The prophet Isaiah uses not mathematics, but trees to describe how small the remnant was. Back in Solomon's day when the kingdom of Israel was enjoying her golden years, she was a tall, sturdy tree with leafy limbs that stretched out far and wide across the land. But because of her sin, she was cut off at ground level. Nothing but a stump remained of the once grand and glorious kingdom. What had come of God's promise that David's kingdom would endure forever? Had Israel's sin nullified or voided God's promise of the coming Saviour? No! Remember, this was a “No ifs, ands, or buts” promise from God. Though Israel was now nothing but a stump, there was still a stump. And this stump, according to Isaiah, is a Christmas stump. We might be far more familiar with Christmas trees, but Isaiah's Christmas stump has a much clearer connection to Christ. Isaiah says that from this Christmas stump will spring forth a Christmas shoot, a Seed, a Son. The family tree of Jesse, father of King David, would be revived and begin to grow again. The promised Saviour would still be born! Suggestions for prayer Thank God that His promise to send a Saviour to redeem us from the curse of our sin was a “no ifs, ands or buts” kind of promise and that though God had to punish Israel, her failures did not stop His promise from being fulfilled. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 17 – Picture #3: Bread

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

Daily devotional

December 16 – Picture #2: Water

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

December 14 – The deliverer: Moses

“Then the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry....And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’”– Exodus 3:7-8,10 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:7-10; Psalm 105:1-7,16-45 God promised Abraham that his descendants would take possession of Canaan. However, due to widespread famine, Jacob and his family moved to Egypt. Upon arriving, Pharaoh favored them, letting them live in the lush land of Goshen. But one Pharaoh's favor gave way to the next Pharaoh's fury. The Israelites became mere machines that made pyramids and palaces. God's promises now seemed far from being fulfilled. Abraham's descendants were certainly numerous, but they lived far from the Promised Land of Canaan. They were enslaved in a foreign land. It seemed all they had to look forward to was the next crack of the whip and the next baby's burial. But God had not forgotten His promise. He raised up a deliverer! During a time when all baby boys were destined for death in the Nile, Moses was saved in the very waters that were intended to serve as his grave. Safely afloat in a miniature ark of reeds, he was discovered by Pharaoh's daughter and raised in Pharaoh's palace. After learning the ways of Egypt, Moses fled to the wilderness and learned to care for sheep. God then sent him back to Egypt to deliver His people. By delivering ten powerful plagues and drowning evil lord Pharaoh and his army, Moses pictured Jesus, the Deliverer, Who defeated Satan by rising from the tomb. By leading the Israelites through the wilderness, protecting and providing for them along the way, Moses pictured Jesus, the Shepherd, Who leads us along our way.   Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus that through His death and resurrection He delivers us from the eternal death we deserve. And thank Him for being an ever-present Shepherd Who provides for and protects us each day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 9 – Enoch & Lamech: where loyalty leads

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

December 7 – One fault line, two lines of loyalty

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

Daily devotional

December 6 – Promise in paradise (2): Through a new set of clothing

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” – Isaiah 61:10a Scripture reading: Genesis 3:6-21; Isaiah 61:10 A second Advent promise was given in the garden in symbolic form through a new set of clothing. Immediately after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve suddenly realized they were naked. Their nakedness was not a problem before (Genesis 2:25), but now it suddenly becomes a source and symbol of shame. When we are ashamed of something, we try to cover it up. This all started with Adam and Eve. They tried to cover up the shame of their nakedness with skimpy loincloths. Did this solve their problem? No! Though covered by fig-leaves, they were still filled with fear. They hid their nakedness from each other. Then they tried to hide from God. But no matter what they did, they could not remove their fear, guilt and shame. Nor could they restore their relationship with God. But God could! He replaced their skimpy, fig-leaf loin-cloths with tunics that He tailored for them from leather. In doing so, the Tailor taught two truths. First, tunics cover far more than loin-cloths, teaching that clothing should conceal rather than reveal. Second, God taught that blood must be shed in order to cover sin. To make the leather tunics, God killed an animal. This was the first animal sacrifice. The animal's death taught that the penalty for sin is death. But the animal died instead of Adam and Eve, teaching that God graciously gives life to sinners by providing a substitute to die in their place. Suggestions for prayer Thank God the Father for this picture of Jesus given in the first sacrifice that took place in the Garden of Eden. Thank Jesus for sacrificing Himself on the cross as the Lamb of God Who takes away our sin. And thank Jesus for clothing us with the robes of His perfect righteousness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

November 30 – A certain knowledge

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

Daily devotional

November 29 – The Tree of Life

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

Daily devotional

November 28 – A new nature

“Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being…” – Romans 7:20–22 Scripture reading: Romans 7 We don’t want to sin but rather we are charged to fight against that old self because it is not really us. This is not an excuse to sin but it is something else. We don’t want evil close at hand, yet as with Paul, the old self hasn’t completely died off. Our old nature was mortally wounded on the cross, as good as dead, always dying, however, it still clings to us like a dying soldier fighting to carry as many enemies with him into the grave. That is the evil that lies close at hand, dead, and no longer a part of us. So we might fight to put it to death once and for all. We want to be saints. Here is our twofold life, the Christian “inner being.” This is our new nature in Christ, not I who live, but Christ in me. The “inner me” is the me in Christ or Christ in me. The “inner me”, the true me, is the one regenerated by the Holy Spirit who truly loves God’s law. The Christian delights in God’s law, embraces it with gladness, and loves it as the revelation of God’s good and merciful will. The Psalms are for the songs of the “inner me”. They are the words of our new life. Our true voice in worship is found in the heart of God, which the Psalms reflect. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your church would worship God according to His Word alone. Pray that your home would follow that same Word and say with the saints of old, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 23 – Baptism saves

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

Daily devotional

November 22 – The Gospel of the Kingdom of God

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

Daily devotional

November 21 – Total love

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

Daily devotional

November 20 – Justification

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” – Romans 5:9 Scripture reading: Romans 5 Justification is history. Everyone who belongs to the kingdom of God has this history, the moment you believed all charges were dropped, and you have been declared righteous. The adverb “now” demonstrates that justification is a present reality. There are some who say you have to earn justification. They are dead wrong – matter of fact, they are still dead in their sins. From Paul’s perspective, he and the Roman Christians were justified in the past, a declaration that continues into the present. How so? Faith, by faith they were received into the kingdom of God and by faith, so too, we are now resting in that kingdom. Faith is our history, faith is our present, and faith is our future and this faith is a gift of God, not of works, because God first loved us. Our faith is not self-caused, it is God caused, a gift of grace. It has to be faith because Jesus’ work that earned the Kingdom of God is history, “His blood.” The cross is our history. Our past, present, and future is history, “it is finished.” Christ died and we were justified. Christ died and we are justified. Christ died and we will be justified. Everything here is past and present tense except this “the wrath to come.” This is the eschatological wrath of God to come. This is Kingdom time too—when the Kingdom comes to judge the living and the dead. In Christ, we will be on the right side of that judgment. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the fullness of God’s Kingdom, that He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and cause multitudes who neglect salvation to seek after Christ and find it. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 15 – The law of faith

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

Daily devotional

November 14 – The life of faith

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

Daily devotional

November 13 – But now

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

Daily devotional

November 12 – Faith alone

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” – Romans 1:17 Scripture reading: Romans 1-2 This is another highly debated statement, but it basically means sola fide. Paul is simply emphasizing the place of faith – salvation is received by faith through and through. Later Paul reveals why sola fide – soli deo gloria. By faith alone, God does all the work so that He gets all the glory. Comparing Scripture with Scripture we see that faith is not some meritorious condition we meet, rather faith puts away our good works to rest in Christ alone. Faith alone says Christ alone is our Savior. Today many argue against this old perspective, faith alone in Christ alone. They want to go back to the medieval scheme of faith plus works, grace plus cooperation. But the Reformers were right, Paul is not talking about the way God’s people should live. Paul’s point is that by faith God saves His people. Paul will insist over and over that a person is righteous only by faith. Paul is speaking of the way a person is made righteous, namely by trusting the finished work of Christ. God has done everything that needs to be done. The gospel is God’s almighty power for saving sinners. As it is preached, a righteous status which is God’s gift is being revealed and offered to you. Do you want it? It is altogether yours by faith alone. Simply reach out by the hand of faith and be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ our Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would get all the glory in your home and in your salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

November 7 – A new tongue

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

Daily devotional

November 6 – A new love

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

Daily devotional

November 5 – A new belong

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

Daily devotional

November 4 – A new creation

“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…” – Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Romans 1 The ministry of the gospel of God affects us today. This finished work, this history creates in us an “obedience of faith.” What is this obedience? I thought we are saved by grace through faith without any merit of our own. Does this mean that our works play a role in salvation? Jesus was asked by the leaders of His day, “What work must we do, to do the work of God?” He responded, “Believe in the One He has sent.” Faith is the obedience of faith, which is a gift, not of works lest any might boast. Faith is simply knowledge and trust. We must know history, the finished work of Christ. We not only know it, but trust our life with it. It is called obedience because ministers command it – believe! Faith is a non-meritorious work. It is a work in the sense that we must believe in order to receive and be received by God. By faith we belong to Christ. By faith we become servants. Now as servants, justified saints, serve! In Christ we serve, we fight against sin and the devil. We bear witness to Christ, and after this life, we reign with Him over all creation. This is what it means to be a servant of Christ. We are thankful servants who offer our lives as a thank offering to God. Christ accomplished the new life in the resurrection. Now the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead raises us to new life. What is the gospel? It is finished. It is finishing us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would help our unbelief, as Thomas said, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.” May we give our every devotion to the Lord through His Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA....

Daily devotional

October 30 – Preserving grace

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

Daily devotional

October 29 – Unstoppable grace

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

Daily devotional

October 28 – Christ’s successful death

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

Daily devotional

October 27 – Chosen, not choice

..."For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you...” – Deuteronomy 7:6-8 Scripture reading: Acts 13:13-52 “Tis not that I did choose thee, for, Lord this could not be; this heart would still refuse thee, hadst thou not chosen me.” Now that we know the glory and grace of God in Jesus Christ, it seems incredible that we would ever refuse One so gracious and kind. Yet, such is the depravity of the human heart that we would have. The stream of God's grace can be traced back to before the creation of the world. From all eternity the God of our salvation selected from the human race some who would be recipients of eternal life. And it's that eternal choice which leads some to choose to believe in Christ when they hear the gospel of salvation. That explains why the Gentiles in Acts 13:48 embraced the gospel. They were "appointed to eternal life." The elect are chosen by God, but not because they are choice people; they are selected but not because they are select. God chose those He wanted to choose because He loved them. And if you ask why He loved them, the answer is because He did. This truth of unconditional election not only magnifies the glory of God, but it also offers unspeakable comfort to unbelievers and believers.  If salvation were based on justice or merit, no unbeliever could have hope that he might be saved. Since salvation depends on God's eternal good pleasure, everyone who knows Christ can know as well that his salvation is secure. God will never stop loving us because God never started loving us since from all eternity God had set his affection upon us. Suggestions for prayer Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus that He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Pray that God’s sovereign election would make us humble before His majesty and before others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 22 – Living like an atheist

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

Daily devotional

October 21 – Does the Lord not see?

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

Daily devotional

October 20 – Does the Lord not see?

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

Daily devotional

October 19 – The righteous sufferer

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.– Hebrews 13:12-14 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 21:1-16 Naboth was a righteous man. He refused Ahab's offer, not because he was churlish, but for righteousness’ sake. He knew the Lord's laws forbade, under most circumstances, the selling of one's land (Lev. 25:23-28). The gift of the land was part and parcel of Israel's redemption. Redemption was not simply escaping from slavery but provision for the future. The promise of God to the fathers was realized only when Israel possessed its inheritance in the land and enjoyed life there with their Redeemer. Naboth treasured God’s blessing and was not going to part with it. Esau did. So did Demas (2 Tim. 4:10). Would you? His determination cost him. He suffered through wicked machinations. Remarkable how similar Naboth's experience was to our Lord’s: Christ was accused of blasphemy against God and king, two false witnesses spoke against him, and he was put to death outside the city. The similarity is not so much because Christ joins us in our suffering as that we join Him in His. But even as Christ received His inheritance following His suffering, so will the saints receive theirs following suffering. Naboth is dead but not forgotten. His name is mentioned seven times after his killing. And after his death his vineyard is still called “the vineyard of Naboth” (v. 18). Nor did he not lose his eternal inheritance. Neither shall we who trust in the righteous Sufferer, Jesus Christ. Our names are engraved on His palms, those palms that were outstretched on Golgotha’s cross for your salvation, a salvation that rescues you from tyranny to bring you into an inheritance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would be encouraged to embrace suffering for Christ’s sake by the confidence that we shall share in His glory. Pray for your minister that he may preach Christ and Him crucified and that God’s Word would both comfort and convert for the glory of the Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 14 – Covenant prosecution

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

Daily devotional

October 13 – Discouraged

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

Daily devotional

October 12 – Effective prayer

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

Daily devotional

October 11 – Showers of blessing

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.– James 5:16c-18 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 18:41-46 There are more blessings here than simply the rain. For example, Elijah commands Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink.” The contest on Carmel is more than a contest. It is a covenant renewal ceremony. Elijah prepares the altar as a burnt offering. In the Old Testament the burnt offering was followed by a fellowship offering. There is a feast after the fire - wonderfully depicted in the Lord’s Supper. We remember the sacrifice of Christ and then eat His flesh and drink His body. Fellowship restored. Then there is the rain but before it comes down, prayer must go up. Yes, God said He was going to send rain but He still wishes to be asked for His promise to be fulfilled. So with humility (notice Elijah’s posture) and persistence (seven times) Elijah prays on behalf of his people as their mediator even as Christ intercedes for us so the blessings may fall. And the Lord answers. How much we owe to our Mediator’s prayers. Then there is that peculiar detail at the end of the chapter. It must be significant because the hand of the Lord is involved. He gives Elijah energy to lead Ahab on the 17-mile journey back to Jezreel. It appears that for a while anyway, things are as they should be in Israel. There is confession, fellowship, rain, and the Word of the Lord(represented by Elijah) leading the way of the king. The king was never meant to follow his own wisdom. Nor are we. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that He is willing to have fellowship with sinners through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and thank Him for the Lord’s Supper. Pray that God would make us men and women, boys and girls, who pray for His promised blessings that we may glorify and enjoy Him. Ask Him to teach us His Word so that we would know His promises and live according to His commands. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta. ...

Daily devotional

October 6 – Revive us again

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

Daily devotional

October 5 – Marvelling at His grace

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

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

October 3 – God’s gracious judgement

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:1-12; 1 Kings 17:1-7 Talk about a short-term ministry! No sooner does Elijah begin than he is sent away. What is God doing? He’s judging his people. They refused to listen to His Word. Now He refuses to speak it. He’s sending a famine, not only of food, but of the hearing of the Words of the Lord (Amos 8:11). Sobering, isn’t it? But in God’s judgment, we see grace. In the midst of the famine, He preserves Elijah by feeding him with ravens because God has a plan to send him back. He has not completely deserted His people. Prophets communicated God’s message both by their lives and their mouths. We hear God’s judgment in “Neither dew nor rain these years.” That’s God’s response to incessant rebellion. But even this announcement is gracious. First, God is going to showcase the incompetence of the storm god, Baal, so that Israel would abandon him and return to the Lord. Second, threatened judgment is always a call to repentance so that we might experience God’s forgiving grace. Notice how John the Baptizer warns in preparation for the coming of grace in Christ. What a mercy when your engine temperature warning light brightens your dashboard! Imagine if God had abandoned them to their sin like He had the other nations. Jesus, the greater Prophet has come. We have heard the warnings from His mouth and have seen the seriousness of God’s wrath in His death. What have we learned? Though not soft on sin, our God is gracious in His judgments. How much more gracious is He in His grace! Suggestions for prayer Pray for His Spirit so that we would cherish the Word of God we have, both as we read it and hear it preached. Praise the Holy God that He is gracious and forgiving. 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 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 25 – God of food and finance

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 “Give us this day our daily bread,” a prayer we have probably uttered countless times. He does hear us. He does. God hears each and every prayer made by His people. Our struggle is probably in believing that He has time to care for us, or is really interested in the minute details of our lives. But this verse admonishes those faithless notions. King David prays that the covenant people have barns full of all kinds of produce and sheep that keep bearing young. He asks for plenty of food and money. In the agrarian culture of the ancient near east, food and flocks meant survival. Do those things come from God? Does He tend to the sprouting, growth and completion of a seed planted in the ground? I would guess many of us can think of different Bible passages (mustard seed; seeds and soils; etc.) which we know prove that God causes agricultural growth. Likewise, God makes or halts pregnancy, as Jacob knew well. Those sheep were money to Jacob! This is what our God is like, dear people. He gives us food and finance to keep us alive. He creates and sustains life in this world, with an abundance of those, such that the Christian can ever prosper. Out of our excess, we offer thanks to the Lord and supply the needs of those less fortunate than we are, and we do so with voluntary generosity. Why? Because our God is like this! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you confidence that He will provide all your needs and will give you enough so that you can share with others out of your abundance. 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 17 – The God worthy of song

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 Martin Luther once wrote something to the effect of…next to the Bible itself, music is God’s greatest gift to mankind. We each probably know something of the power of music. Concert venues are usually packed to overflowing when a popular musician is in town. Many people have their favourite songs playing in their vehicle or on their personal listening devices. We love music. God says here that He loves music that is dedicated to Him. He created music as a means to glorify Him. You probably already know that life in the new heavens and new earth will be music-full! But what we are asking in this series of devotionals is, first, Who is God? Why would music bring Him pleasure? Well, He is creative and loves artistry and aesthetic beauty. I believe He gave songs to whales that they might sing to bring Him pleasure. He is enthroned upon the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and that praise-full enthronement is via music. For reasons not fully revealed, His nature and being resonate with joy to the sounds of musical praise. When we then seek to answer the question, Who is God, in relationship to music, we seek to say that He is able to be joyful. God is pleased by praise through music. Does this knowledge of an aspect of God change how you plan to worship Him on the coming Lord’s Day? He is delighted by music, and singing that praises Him is most excellent music indeed! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a new appreciation for music. Pray that you would love to praise Him as much as He delights to receive joy through praise. 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 9 – The blaze of His glory

Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. – Psalm 144:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 I believe it was C.S. Lewis who, in a book he wrote, posed the rhetorical question, “Do you think God is safe?” The answer expected was “no.” There is an important sense in which that is true. “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29). Verse 5 surely drives that point home. To bow or bend the heavens is to ask God to “interrupt” creation – to cause a rift or a break in the elements that are above us, the unchanging nature of which we probably take for granted. When God enters the scene, nothing is unchanged. Were He to “touch the mountains” they would smoke. This is what Israel experienced at Sinai. They heard the sound, saw the sights of God impacting His creation. Let’s ask the question again – from this verse – Who is God?? We remember that this Psalm is set in the context of warfare. This is spiritual warfare for us and often we are overwhelmed by it. Then this verse teaches us that we can call out to God Who can break into this creation, into our reality. We need to remember this and believe. To put a truth into practice we first need to accept it as truth. God is this One Who can powerfully come down to save us. This new day and new work week afford us the opportunity to take God at His Word for everything we face. Believe! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you an expanded view of His majestic glory. Ask Him to impress you with Himself! 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

September 1 – Introduction to Psalm 144

Repetition. If you have lived for a few years, you have already learned the value of repetition. God has placed repetition into the Bible as a very helpful learning tool for us. A word or concept is repeated in the Bible because God wants that truth emphasized. For example, God is holy, holy, holy! We are going to use repetition this month as a key tool to come to grips with what God says about Himself and what we should do in response. More than anything, we must know well Who God is and who we are. Repetition will help us focus on those two things. This devotional will be very narrow and limited. We will spend the whole month in Psalm 144. God makes Himself known in His Word and His Word is a mirror by which He shows us who we are. The Bible is the richest food to feed our souls and lead us in the way everlasting. Are you ready to go?! Here’s our plan. Each day we will read Psalm 144. This should take less than 5 minutes to accomplish. But first, pray. Ask God to give you understanding of the Psalm we are studying. Then, read the entire Psalm each day. Don’t rush. Read slowly. Meditate on this Psalm; come to know it. Know God through the Word He wrote through King David. Know yourself. The devotional material will focus on one verse of the Psalm, in order, for two days. On the first day, we will see Who God is from that verse. On the second day, we will come face to face with who we are from that verse. As we look carefully at God’s Word we learn Who He is and who we are, and grow in grace and knowledge. Let’s go! My stable teacher Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle - Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 If you were asked to give an answer to the question, “Who is God; how would you describe Him?” How would you answer? There are many proper ways to answer that question. God created all things. God is in control of all things. God knows all things, He has power over all things, He is present everywhere, all the time. He is the God Who saves His people.  But would you say that He is the One Who trains you for battle? Maybe you have never thought of God that way before. Maybe this first verse is a statement limited to Who King David knew God to be – the God Who trained Him for war. Yet, it seems the Apostle Paul knew God to be a battle-trainer. That comes out in how Paul wrote Ephesians 6. There is a battle to be fought and our God makes us ready for battle. His will for us includes the reality that we will need to fight. He strengthens us for the fight, but this first verse says He also trains us. He uses the Bible, sermons, studies, books, conversations with other Christians, prayer, and other means to teach us the art of what John Bunyan called “Holy Warfare.”  This Psalm is God’s way of teaching us that He plans to train us to “fight the good fight of the faith.” Suggestions for prayer Pray, “Lord make me aware that You give grace for real life.” Pray this with thanks for His daily grace. 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 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 24 – Wholly following the Lord

“Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.” – Joshua 6:8 Scripture reading: Joshua 14:6-15 Today we focus on Caleb, one of only two faithful spies who gave a good report to Moses. Ten spies reported that the land was filled with fortified cities and that giants lived there, so Israel would never be able to conquer it. The people believed this bad report, rebelled against Moses and rejected the Lord. As a result, they never set foot in the Promised Land. In direct contrast to this unbelief, Caleb, “wholly follows the Lord” and is blessed by God. Notice the repetition in this passage. Five times Caleb speaks of what God said or promised (vs. 6, twice in vs. 10, and twice in vs. 12). Because Caleb based his faith on the sure promises of God, he was able to “wholly follow the Lord” (repeated three times, vs. 8, 9, and 14). In this whole-hearted following of God, Caleb is more than just a good moral example for us. He is an Old Testament picture of Christ! Caleb had a strong faith and followed the Lord with all his heart, but he still sinned. Caleb needed to look, as we all do, to the Lord. Jesus came and fully accomplished and perfectly completed every command of Almighty God with His righteous life. He laid down his life, paying for all our sins with His sacrificial death on the Cross. Caleb’s obedience foreshadows Christ’s. God’s plan for the history of redemption is carried out fully and completely in Jesus Christ alone. Look to Jesus and whole-heartedly follow Him. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the whole-hearted obedience of Christ, lived out for us. Thank God for the sacrificial death of our Lord in our place. Pray that this message of the Gospel would go forth powerfully from faithful churches tomorrow. 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....

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