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Daily devotional

Thursday August 30 - Praying for the appearance of the Lord Jesus

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2 Scripture reading: Colossians 4:2-4 How watchful are you for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you praying for His appearance? Are you praying for an open door for the gospel? All of history is heading for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now is the time of repentance for everyone. To be watchful for the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to persevere in prayer for His appearance, for prayer is a spiritual discipline, meant to sanctify us and keep our lives oriented towards why we are here and where we are going. Thus, the more we pray for the appearance of the Lord Jesus, the more being ready for His appearance will be on our minds. When we pray with thankfulness that our lives are hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father, we will pray more for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, for we will then appear in glory with Him (Col. 3:3-4). To be watchful for the Lord Jesus Christ, we also need to pray for an open door for the proclamation of the Word. God called Paul to proclaim that Christ was also working among the Gentiles, including them into His body, the church, on the basis of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul asks the Colossians to pray for an open door for the proclamation of this mystery of Christ. Because we are concerned not only about our own salvation, but also about the salvation of others, we need to daily pray for an open door for the proclamation of the mystery of Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to persevere in praying for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as an open door for the gospel.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC.

Daily devotional

Saturday August 25 - Love that binds together in perfect harmony

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. - Colossians 3:14 Scripture reading: John 13:34-35 The Lord Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment. He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” When He said that the Law and the Prophets depend upon the twofold commandment of love, the Lord Jesus meant that the Christian life was about learning how to love God and your neighbor. Before He ascended into heaven, He repeated this commandment and added that love for each other would be the mark of identification of the Christian church. Paul writes that love binds all things together in perfect harmony in a twofold way. First, love binds all the virtues he had just listed together. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness are all manifestations of love. In his letter to the Galatians, he wrote that the fruit of the Spirit is love and then follow eight manifestations of love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Love binds all its different manifestations together in perfect harmony. But love not only binds its different manifestations together, it also binds the congregation together in perfect harmony. Without love, the congregation falls apart. Without love, the world will not recognize the church as the body of Christ, the new man! With love, all men will know that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord Jesus to clothe you with Himself so that His love shines in and through you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Friday August 24 - Wearing the clothing that fits our new self

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience ... – Colossians 3:12-13   Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-5 Members of the body of Christ, the church, have put off the old self with its practices and put on the new self that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Racial, religious, cultural and social barriers no longer separate them because Christ is all and in all. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ is like putting on new clothing so that Christ is all around us and can be recognized in and through us. When we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, we become people with compassionate hearts like the Good Samaritan who saw a person in need, was moved with compassion and did something. We become kind and generous like God has been kind and generous towards us. We become humble, considering others better than ourselves and their interests more important than ours. We become meek and gentle, considerate, willing to give up our rights and willing to be injured rather than asserting ourselves and injuring others. We become patient in the face of wrongdoing and irritating behaviour, not lashing out in anger, but patiently enduring, like God. We bear with one another, persevering in the relationship when someone does not live up to our expectations. If someone offends us, we take the initiative and forgive like God did with us. This is why God chose us, set us apart, loved us and gave us new clothing in the Lord Jesus Christ. He did this so that we would spread the life of Eden and win others for the Lord Jesus Christ and this life in Him and His church. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord Jesus to clothe you with Himself so that His compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience shine in and through you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Thursday August 23 - Christ is all and in all

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. - Colossians 3:11 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:11-22 Adam, created in the image of God, was called to spread the life of Eden throughout the world and fill it with perfect offspring. For this, God filled him with knowledge of His will in spiritual wisdom and understanding. Adam, however, failed to use it, and the life of Eden was not spread throughout the world and it was not filled with perfect offspring. The Lord Jesus Christ is the new Adam created in the image of God (Col. 1:16). He succeeded where the first Adam failed because He did use the knowledge of His Father’s will with spiritual wisdom and understanding. He will one day spread the life of Eden throughout a new earth and fill it with perfect offspring. He begins to do this today by gathering a new man, a church, a body for Himself through His Word and Spirit. When people put Him on, through faith, they are joined to Him and become members of His body. They increasingly die to life in the old Adam, the old man, and increasingly arise to new life in the new man, the Lord Jesus Christ, filled with knowledge of God’s will with spiritual wisdom and understanding. In this new man, His body, His church, all barriers that once divided people from one another — racial, religious, cultural and social — are abolished. Sharing a common allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ is all that matters because He indwells all members of His body. This is how the church spreads the life of Eden and fills the world with Christ-like offspring. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to fill you with all knowledge of His will, with all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you and your church can spread the life of Eden in your environment This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Wednesday August 22 - Put to death what is earthly in you

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. - Colossians 3:5 Scripture reading: Romans 13:11-14; Colossians 3:5-11 How are you dealing with what is earthly in you: your sinful thoughts, your greed, your anger, your gossip and slander? Some people were trying to influence the members of the church in Colossae to deal with what was earthly in them by way of self-made religion, asceticism and severe treatment of the body: do not handle, do not taste, do not touch. While this had the appearance of wisdom, it ultimately was of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. This power only lies in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is now hidden in the glory of the Father (Col. 3:3). Because we participated in the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus and are joined to Him, by faith, through the bond of the Holy Spirit, our life is also hidden with the Lord Jesus Christ in the glory of the Father. We should not set our minds on things that are on the earth – self-made religion that has the appearance of wisdom – but on things that are above. When, by the grace of God, we do, we will experience that having died to what is sinful and having arisen to what is holy will increasingly begin to manifest itself in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. How do we deal with what is earthly in us? By putting on Christ, through faith, every day again and living, remaining and maturing in Him. In this way, He will do in us what He has done for us (Romans 13:14). Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to experience the mystery of dying to sin as you put on Christ through faith and live in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Friday August 17 - Raised with Christ in baptism

.... in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. - Colossians 2:12b Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-11 The Form for the Baptism of Infants explains being baptized into the name of God the Son as follows: “The Son seals unto us that He washes us in His blood from all our sins, incorporating us into the fellowship of His death and resurrection, so that we are freed from our sins and accounted righteous before God.” Those who are baptized into the name of the Son have the washing of their sins and the daily renewing of their lives in Christ. But what we have in Christ needs to be imparted to us through the Holy Spirit as we take ownership of our baptism. Therefore, at the close of each baptism of infants, we pray that God would govern these children with His Holy Spirit so that they may be nurtured in the Christian faith. When, by the grace of God, this happens, children are not only in Christ, but Christ is also in them, so they can say it is no longer they who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in them (Galatians 2:20). When unbelievers become Christians and are baptized, being in Christ and having Christ often occur at the same time. For their children who are baptized, however, there is almost always a time gap between the two. Sometimes, —Christ being in them—never happens. For the Colossians, it did and Paul describes this miracle of grace as a being raised with Christ. The power of God that raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead also spiritually raised them from the dead and now lives in them. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that the risen Christ also lives in you. If not, ask for this miracle of grace to take place. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Thursday August 16 - Buried with Christ in baptism

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism... – Colossians 2:11-12a Scripture reading: Exodus 28:6-21 Baptism is an identity marker reminding us we are not our own, but belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, not only because we are baptized in His name, but also because we were buried with Him in baptism. To understand our being in Christ, it is helpful to remind ourselves of Old Testament Israel being in the high priest. On each of his shoulders he had a stone engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel. In the breast piece of judgment, he had four rows of three stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, when he was wearing his official robes, Israel went with him, so to speak, because as their representative he acted for them and as their substitute he acted in their place. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Testament high priest. He functioned as the representative and substitute of New Testament Israel, the church, His body. When He died, the members of His body died with him. Baptism is a sign and seal of our having died and been buried with Christ. Because, in the Old Testament, circumcision made with hands was an identity marker that members of the church had been cut off from the life of the flesh in the world—the old order—and had been placed in the church—the new order. Paul calls our being buried with Christ, in baptism, the circumcision of Christ, made without hands. It is a sign and seal that, in Christ, we have died to the life of the flesh in the world. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that in Christ you have died to the life of the flesh in the world and have been placed in the new order of life in the church. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Wednesday August 15 - Baptism as an identity marker

.... having been buried with him in baptism ... - Colossians 2:12a Scripture reading: Colossians 2:11-12 Most of us have a birthday calendar to remind us to congratulate family members and friends with their birthdays. Rightfully so, for birthdays are wonderful reminders of where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. Most, probably do not have a baptismal day calendar. In fact, most, probably do not remember the date. While we think it is important that we were baptized, that fact does not play as great a role in our spiritual formation as it ought to. That is odd, because God gives Himself to us through His Word and sacraments. Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs and seals of His grace towards us and were given for the strengthening of our faith. So, why do we not use the sacrament of our baptism more for the strengthening of our faith? This question presses more when we consider that baptism is an identity marker. Identity markers tell us something about who we are: for instance, our race, our ethnicity, our language, and our gender. Baptism tells us something about who we are and to Whom we belong. Knowing this is important for young people when they grow up. It is also very important for people in our society, many of whom have difficulty finding a stable self-identity. Baptism is helpful in this regard. It reminds us that we are not our own, but belong to the Lord Jesus Christ because we are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to regularly remind you of the significance of your baptism. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Tuesday August 14 - Filled with the fullness of God

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. - Colossians 2:9-10 Scripture reading: Colossians 2:8-10 If you google “the grass is greener on the other side,” you will be confronted with an image of a cow, kneeling to eat grass on the other side of a barbed wire fence. It has lots of grass in its own field, but it thinks the grass on the other side of the fence is better. What is true for a cow is also true for humans. We too often think the grass is greener on the other side because we are not satisfied with what God has given us. Belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ with body and soul, in life and in death, sometimes is not enough for us. We long to belong to things or people in addition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Earlier we saw that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. These cosmic demons deceive us into not being satisfied with what we have in the Lord Jesus Christ and tempt us into seeking greener grass outside of Him. Paul warns the Colossians not to allow themselves to be taken captive by these demons who do their deceptive work through so-called human wisdom and false teachings. They should not do this because in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily and they have been filled in Him. Because Christ is the image of the invisible God, all the fullness of God dwells in Him. Thus, we have all that we need by being in Him, through faith. Suggestions for prayer When you think that the grass is greener on the other side, ask God to make you content and satisfied by being in Christ and having Christ in you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Thursday August 9 - Rejoicing in your suffering for Christ

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. - Colossians 1:24 Scripture reading: Psalm 2 Living a life worthy of being in Christ costs Paul a lot of suffering. Yet, that he rejoices in this should not surprise us for earlier in his letter he prayed that the Father of the Lord Jesus would strengthen the Colossians with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (1:11). What he prayed for them, he had experienced and was still experiencing himself! God was strengthening Paul in his sufferings for the sake of Christ by reminding him that in his sufferings he was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body. Now, only Christ could and did bear this suffering. As a result, there is nothing lacking in this suffering for our sin. But there is another kind of suffering the Lord Jesus endured while on earth. Psalm 2 speaks about the nations raging, the peoples plotting in vain and the kings of the earth rebelling and the rulers taking counsel together against the LORD and His anointed. As the Anointed of the LORD, Christ experienced the affliction of this opposition. While Christ is in heaven, He continues to experience opposition in His body, His church. Thus, when Paul and other Christians experience opposition to living a life worthy of being in Christ, they fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for these will not be over until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Paul considers it an honour and joy to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to rejoice in your sufferings for Christ because you are filling up what is lacking in His sufferings for the sake of His body. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Wednesday August 8 - The cost of discipleship

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. - Colossians 1:24 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 11:21b-29 What does it cost you to live a life worthy of being in Christ, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every kind of good work and increasing in the knowledge of God? If we were to ask Paul, we know what he would say. Living a life worthy of being in Christ costs him a lot of suffering. The Lord Jesus Christ had warned the people of His day that this would be the case when He said: “Whoever does not bear His own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). The Lord Jesus appeared to Ananias in a vision and told him to tell Saul (Paul) that He would show him just how much he was going to have to suffer for the sake of His name (Acts 9:16). In our Scripture reading Paul shares with the Corinthians how much he has indeed suffered for Christ. Paul had just urged the Colossians to persevere in the Christian faith, being steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which had been proclaimed in all creation and of which he had become a minister. While he had written this, he was in prison in Caesarea, waiting to be transferred to Rome. Who knows what further suffering awaited him for living a life worthy of being in Christ, bearing fruit in every kind of good work and increasing in the knowledge of God? What does it cost you to live a life worthy of being in Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to be willing to count the cost for following the Lord Jesus and then to grant you the strength for doing so. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Tuesday August 7 - Persevering in the faith

... if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard... - Colossians 1:23a Scripture reading: John 15:5-6; Colossians 1:21-23  Faith unites us to the Lord Jesus Christ so that we share in His fellowship of love with His Father and His ministry of love from His Father that He carries out on earth through His church. Being united to Christ, through faith, enables us to live lives worthy of our being in Him. We have been redeemed by His blood and qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light of the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light. But once we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy all the blessings of being in Christ, we also need to continue or persevere in our faith. The Bible is clear that those who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ through genuine faith will continue in the faith. But the Bible is equally clear that those who are not united to the Lord Jesus Christ through genuine faith will not persevere. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks about this in John 15. Some branches/believers abide in Him through true faith and bear much fruit. Other branches/believers do not remain in Him. The latter are cut off and thrown into the fire; the former God will present as holy, blameless and irreproachable living sacrifices for approval before Himself on the Day of Judgment. These conditional statements in the Scriptures are implicit warnings meant to keep us from a sense of false security. How are you persevering in the faith? Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to help you to persevere in the faith by remaining in Christ through faith, especially when you feel weary. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Monday August 6 - The Mediator of re-creation

...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. - Colossians 1:20 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:18-20 The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the source of our being able to live a life worthy of our being in Him because He is the mediator of creation, but also because He is the mediator of re-creation. This mediation is necessary because we have alienated ourselves from the Lord Jesus Christ with our fall into sin. And creation was subjected to futility because of this (Romans 8:20). Thus, both we and creation need to be reconciled to the mediator of creation. The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ gives the mediator of creation to the church so that He can be its mediator of re-creation by reconciling both the church and creation to Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ accomplishes this as the Head of the church, the One who brings the church into existence and keeps it in existence by giving life to its members, by ruling them through His Word and Spirit, and by holding them together. Having reconciled His body and His creation to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross, He was the first one to rise from the dead with a glorified, immortal body, guaranteeing the general resurrection of the dead of all those who were in Him, through faith. Because of this work of re-creation, the mediator of creation continues to have the first place in God’s universe. He is more than able and also willing to be the source of your being able to live a life worthy of your being in Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to look to your mediator of creation and re-creation when you struggle with being able to live a life worthy of your being in Christ, and that He would encourage you in doing so. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Wednesday August 1 - Introduction, and the fruit of love

This month’s meditations will focus on Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, He withdrew Himself from our three-dimensional experience of reality and ascended into another dimension of God’s created reality known as heaven. While the disciples saw the Lord Jesus ascend, they did not see him enter into heaven for the cloud of God’s glory took Him out of their sight. Since His ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ is hidden in the glory of His Father and glorified together with Him. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only hidden in the glory of the Father, Christians are also hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father (3:3). As the expression “in Christ” so also the expression “with Christ” shows that we participate in the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We participate in what He did in the past, what He is doing in the present and what He will do in the future. We died and arose with Him, we ascended with Him in glory and we will appear with Him in glory. This participation with Christ is a hidden reality, as is the reality of our life being hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father. That the source of our life is hidden with Christ in the Father is not visible to others. It is also not visible to ourselves. We need to believe this. In a sense, Colossians is all about the different facets of the hidden reality of our real life and true existence: our life being hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father. That’s why I have entitled the series Hidden with Christ in God. I enjoyed writing these meditations. I was edified in doing so. I hope and pray that you will be too. *****  We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints... – Colossians 1:3-4 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 13 When people hear that you are a Christian, what do they hear about you? When they hear that you belong to a Christian congregation, what do they hear about your congregation? If we were to ask Paul this question about the church of Colossae, what would he say? What had he heard about its members? What had he heard about the congregation? Paul had not planted this church. Epaphras had planted it. At the moment of writing, Paul is in prison in Caesarea. What did he hear about the church in Colossae while he is waiting to be transferred to Rome? What set this congregation and its members apart from its pagan environment? Paul had heard about their love for each other. The pagan world in which the members of the congregation lived was marked by lust, anger and lies that split up families and other communities. The Christian church, however, was marked by love that united families and the church community. Even major differences, such as race, social background and culture no longer drove a wedge between the members of the church. This did not mean that everyone had good feelings toward one another. They may have. But it meant that when others were rude, they were kind. When others offended them, they forgave. When others rejected them, they accepted them. This is ultimately what the Christian faith is about, as the summary of the law the Lord Jesus taught us. If we do not have this love, we are really nothing according to 1 Corinthians 13. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to pour out His love in you through His Holy Spirit so that others may experience His love in and through you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 31 - Christ's ascension

Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven… - Luke 24:50-53 Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11 By faith, we are united with the Lord Jesus, also when He ascends into heaven and returns to be with God the Father. That’s where He lives and that’s where our house will be also. Just as the High Priest left when entering the Holy of Holies, bearing the names of God’s people on his breastplate, the ephod, so Jesus enters the heavenly dwelling place of God, bearing on His heart the names of those the Father had given Him. And just as the High Priest would bless the LORD’s people after having made atonement for their sins, so the Lord Jesus ascends into heaven blessing His disciples, the apostles and foundation of His Christian Church. This ascension happened in a field near Bethany to signify that now the whole earth was forecourt of the heavenly sanctuary. Heaven and earth were united in Jesus Christ the High Priest, Lord of lords and King of kings! Upon His return from heaven, He will cleanse the earth from everything unholy! In anticipation of this return, we now continue in our service to Him, wherever our place, whatever our calling. Over all His children and over every work in His service, we may see His blessing hands. Meanwhile, He will guide us from heaven and will gather, defend and preserve His Church by His Spirit and Word, sending us into service under the weekly blessing of His High Priestly Blessing as commanded in Numbers 6:22-27! With the disciples, therefore, we too may leave our worship service to Him, rejoicing! Suggestions for prayer Pray to Christ, our Intercessor, in every situation of your life, for every need in your service, thanking Him for His blessings! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Monday July 30 - Jesus and the beloved apostle

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?" - John 21:20-23 Scripture reading: Psalm 23 Peter had just heard what consequences his following of the Lord Jesus could have. Then, when he saw John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, he wondered what the future would be for him. Would he have to experience the same suffering in his service to the Lord? The Lord Jesus tells him that this should be of no concern to him. Imagine that the Lord Jesus would tell him that John’s way would be much easier, or that John will stay alive till Jesus’ return… What would Peter’s reaction be to such a message? Would he think, "Why such a hard service for me, while he won’t need to die for the faith?" Isn’t that a common human reaction when people compare their own path of life through trouble with the easy way of others? The Lord Jesus clearly indicates to Peter that this is none of his business! Jesus determines each one’s way. It’s a good thing we don’t know what the future will bring. Besides, come what may, the Lord will lead and guide and strengthen us anyway! "You follow me!" Jesus’ reply regarding John has been interpreted in various ways, even in the understanding that he wouldn’t die, but live till Christ’s return. That’s not what Jesus said though; if he would have wanted him to live until He returns, that would not be Peter’s business. Peter will have to go and accept his own way and leave the way of others to the Lord. Come what may, just go your way in the Lord; you’re in His hand! Suggestions for prayer Pray for Christ's continued work of gathering His Church. Pray for His office bearers. Pray that His people may accept His way with their life, entrusting themselves to His will by faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 29 - Peter's restoration in office

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” he said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time…, a third time… - John 21:15-19 Scripture reading: John 21:15-19 The Lord Jesus is preparing Himself for His ascension when He has to leave the care for His sheep to His apostles. They would have to go out to preach the gospel and become the foundation of the New Testament church of Christ. The question was whether Peter would be able to do so? Those who wish to serve in Christ’s Church should be unconditionally devoted to Him. If they would serve themselves, seek their own honour, or do their work in a self-designed way, they could not be office-bearer in Christ’s service. He demanded love unequivocally! Would Peter be able to do so, given his three-fold denial, due to self-service and fear of detection? The three-fold question of the Lord Jesus, “Do you love me more than these?” must have been hard on this disciple who had always expressed his love clearly. This time, however, his response is humble and sincere! Christ knows that his reply is sincere. Hence, He can restore His disciple in his office as under-shepherd and entrust to him His lambs. It will be a difficult task, one that can be completed only in true and deep love for the Saviour! It will be a hard job for Peter especially; the Lord Jesus foretells him that it will cost him his life! His Master died on the cross for him and this servant will have to take up his cross as well, figuratively and physically! In his love for the Saviour, he will be able to complete it to His glory! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a true love in Christ’s service, for loving leaders in the Church. Ask for courage to endure and be faithful. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 24 – "Today you will be with me in Paradise"

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly…" – Luke 23:39-43 Scripture reading: Luke 23:33-43 Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one at either side. They both deserved their punishment. Both addressed Jesus with a last petition. The one spoke to Him in a challenging, mocking way: “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” Only if Christ would get him and Himself out of this terrible predicament, would he believe that He was the Christ. Like many people, they will accept God if and when they’re rescued from their earthly trouble and distress, but otherwise… they’ll ignore and reject Him. Jesus did not respond to this man’s petition. The other criminal, however, knew his sin and guilt and confessed the justice of God in the punishment he suffered at the cross. He also knew that Jesus was hanging there innocently, that He was hanging there for the sins of others. Thus he pleads with Jesus if He could also bear his sin and guilt and remember him for a place in God’s kingdom instead of in the hellish forsakenness that he deserved! This criminal probably knew Jesus, was raised with the Scriptures and the promises of the Messiah. He recognized in Jesus the Redeemer and he remembered God’s grace with His sinful people, Israel, again and again. Hence he prays for mercy, for forgiveness and for the fulfillment of God’s promises. His prayer was heard when Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Suggestions for prayer Pray in awareness of sin and guilt. Ask in humbleness of heart for forgiveness. And thank God for His grace and mercy which Christ obtained for us on the cross by bearing our sins. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Monday July 23 – They divided my garments among them

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic… – John 19:23-24 Scripture reading: Psalm 22 The Lord Jesus was robbed of all that He had. Naked, He was hanging on the cross. Around Him, people scorned Him, mocked and ridiculed Him. From the prophecies, He knew that this was going to happen, hence He did not open His mouth. He did so for us and in our place; for us who deserved to be robbed and lose all we have. We deserve to be crucified, forsaken by God and condemned to hellish agony; yet, He bore it all for us! At Golgotha, He descended into hell and He was exposed, not just to earthly robbers who cast lots for His clothing, but He was attacked fiercely by all satanic powers and demons as well! Indeed, Satan could do much in those hours of darkness; nevertheless, he is restricted in his evil works by God. Although David, too, experienced much of his evil plots and plans, as he expresses in Psalm 22, God still sustained him and left him much to be enjoyed in this world. God restrained Satan in order that His plan of salvation could come to Golgotha, where the full measure of our punishment was laid on Christ. God still leaves us much to be enjoyed and restrains Satan in order that God’s work can come to completion. Hence, we also may receive food and clothing, thanks to Golgotha, as gifts of God’s grace. Let’s express this awareness: never take any of His provisions for granted, but pray that we may receive all in thankfulness and for service to God! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for giving Christ as substitute to bear our curse and guilt. Pray God for gratitude for all His provisions. Ask Him for His help in using His gifts to serve Him in His church and kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 22 – The last Passover celebration

“… I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” – Luke 22:14-16 Scripture reading: Luke 22:7-20 Now, for the last time, the Lord Jesus wants to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. It provides an opportunity to place His own suffering and death as the Lamb of God in their sight! Ever since its institution, Passover signified the joy of deliverance, the gratitude over the escape from death (not only of the firstborn, but of all God’s people!). The Passover lamb made them look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Lamb of God! At the beginning of His ministry, John the Baptist had pointed Him out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And now, He is ready to fulfill the Passover and to do so for them, for us! That’s the gospel that has been proclaimed ever since. Today again, we may hear that He has placed us in the glorious liberty of the children of God. We may celebrate this too, in the Lord’s Supper. However, just as the Israelites celebrated Passover in the midst of their Exodus, and continued it throughout their wilderness journey, we too must celebrate the Lord’s Supper in faith and believe that we have been set free… even though we may not yet see this clearly. We have the promise that Christ will celebrate this with us in the Kingdom of His Father! He will set us in the glorious freedom of His children in God’s Kingdom! The wilderness journey will end up in Canaan, the Promised Land, on the new earth where He will drink the wine new with us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for enlightened eyes of faith. Ask God for the power of His Spirit and Word, for the strengthening of our faith. Thank Him for the gifts and benefits we receive by faith in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Saturday July 21 - O Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets...!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…! – Luke 13:34-35 Scripture reading: Luke 11:37-54 Although Christ’s suffering and death was a divine necessity, this does not excuse His murderers, not His killers in the church either. This is the reality the Lord Jesus exposes in this lament over Jerusalem. Throughout the ages, God’s prophets were abused and even killed. Even today, this same abuse of God’s servants continues with the poor attitude of ignoring the Word that’s proclaimed, sleeping in church, criticizing the preaching, rejecting the admonitions and bad-mouthing the preachers. Ultimately, however, those who so conduct themselves in the church of Christ are treating Him again the way He suffered! Jesus articulates this sad fact powerfully in the image of a hen gathering her brood under her wings. Thus, Christ is seeking us by His Word and Spirit, with the means of grace, through the instruments of preachers: He wants to gather us, protect us and care for us, especially against the fierce attacks of Satan, against the wolves in sheep's clothing! Why is this so? We don’t see the dangers, sense the need for protection and heed the admonitions? Instead of saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!” we approach Him again and again with the words “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Let us never forget how He bore for us the scorn and abuse, that He might protect us and spare us for life. He protected us from the severe wrath and curse of God that we may be blessed and preserved in God’s love and care by the preaching of the gospel! Suggestions for prayer Pray for your minister, for your elders, and ask that God may help them in speaking and us in listening. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Monday July 16 – "I came not to call the righteous but sinners"

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he rose and followed Him… – Matthew 9:9-13 Scripture reading: Luke 15:1-10 By the preaching of the Lord Jesus, God’s kingdom is opened or closed. It was opened, for instance, to the tax collector, Matthew. As tax collector, he was known for his crooked business, defrauding his fellow Jews. This man was far from the kingdom of God, far from a place among Jesus’ followers. Now to this man, Jesus gives a place among His disciples. How could that be? What would people say of such a gospel? Still, as the Lord Jesus shows in this passage, that’s exactly why He had come: He came to those who were lost; He came for the sick; He came to call sinners! Imagine that Jesus would have come to call the righteous, people who were worthy of being God’s child and office bearer in God’s church and kingdom. There would be no one who qualified! That’s what should make this event so amazing; yes, that’s what should amaze us about the fact that we may belong to Jesus! Just like Matthew, who followed the Lord Jesus all his life and served Him, so we should wish to respond in thanksgiving and service! Yes, just like Matthew, who brought many more sinners to the Saviour, so we should share this gospel with whomever we can! The Pharisees and scribes did not like this approach to the gospel. They wanted a church for the elite, of people righteous in themselves, righteous like them. The Lord Jesus, however, sends them away with the message that God desires mercy and not sacrifice, not self-righteousness and an unforgiving attitude! Suggestions for prayer Pray for humbleness and for a clear knowledge of our sins and misery. Thank God for His mercy to you and for the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 15 – "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"

And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea… – Matthew 8:23-27 Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-30 During Christ’s life on earth, Satan used every way to obstruct the work of Jesus. He possessed people by his demons, brought terrible diseases, bound people for a long time, used his powers over nature, sweeping up the waters and winds where Jesus went, seeking to kill Him and His disciples. The disciples feared these powers of the sea while Jesus was sleeping in the boat. They woke Him up, and cried, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” It’s no wonder these disciples were afraid, fearing death at such a time. As believers, we too have times of fear for the powers of Satan, and understandably so. In this event, however, the disciples have Christ on board. They could have known that His work wasn’t finished, that Satan’s death and demise would come, though not at this time. They had God’s promises and had seen Jesus’ works, and yet… They did not think in faith, live by faith all the time; they had an interrupted faith. At moments like these, they had to learn again Who they had on board. Jesus manifested His power over wind and water; He silenced the storm and settled their fears. This is Jesus Who would conquer all powers of sin and Satan, all powers of destruction in nature as well. He would come again to establish a new heaven and a new earth in which there would be no satanic powers in nature that could affect the creation of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for peace and tranquillity; ask the Lord for His protection, guidance; and for Christ’s return to make all things new! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Saturday July 14 – Jesus delivers from sickness and death

And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” – Matthew 8:4  Scripture reading: Isaiah 53:1-12 The Lord Jesus conquers death; He restores life, in communion with God. That’s what He showed in the healing of the leper, who was dead (figuratively speaking). This healed leper, however, could not return to God’s people just like that. He first had to go to the temple, make the required sacrifices and show himself to the priests. By his sacrifice, he would testify that he actually did deserve death, but now an animal may die in his place. It pointed at the Messiah, Who would die in his place an eternal death; He would take upon Himself this man’s death and the death through sin of every believer! This man was healed, not because of his kind request or faith in Jesus; he was healed, thanks to the work Christ would perform at Golgotha. On the basis of that work, symbolized in the sacrifice of the animal, God (in His priest) would declare him clean and admit him to the communion of His people again. At the same time, as the priests would hear the man’s story and the manner of his healing, they would know that the Messiah had come. He would take over their task and fulfill the meaning of every sacrifice they make! That’s when these sacrifices will become redundant. Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, He will deliver those who are His from suffering and death and restore to them life, even eternally! That’s the light of the gospel that shines today over all manner of suffering and over death! Suggestions for prayer Pray for patience and endurance, for faith and hope in all the promises of the gospel. Pray for those who suffer among your loved ones or in the congregation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Friday July 13 – Jesus cleanses a leper: "I will; be clean!"

And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean!” – Matthew 8:1-3 Scripture reading: Leviticus 13:1-8 Jesus came to deliver us from sin and death, to restore life to us, the new life that will end in eternal life. That’s what He proclaimed in His preaching and manifested in His healing. If there was one disease that projected the power of death and held the verdict of death, it was leprosy. This disease showed itself by turning the skin white, making the sufferer look like a corpse. God hated death and by this disease showed the reality of death. Hence, Jesus Who came to deliver from sin and death used this opportunity to show Himself the Redeemer and King over death! Lepers could no longer be among the community of people; outside the camp, they had to wander around finding a place to stay and food to eat. When people approached them, they had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” Healing a leper, therefore, was like calling someone back from death. The leper in this passage knew Jesus and believed that He could heal him; that He had power over life and death. He desired to live again among the people and in communion with God. Then Jesus defied the powers of sin and death and touched this leper. He wants to heal the man and deliver him from the powers of death. “I will; be clean!” He said. His Word is powerful and effective, conquering death in this man. His Word and Spirit are still powerful and effective, saving those who believe in Him from sin and death! His Word is life and gives life eternally! Suggestions for prayer Pray the Lord for His compassion and care in times of illness, dealing with a chronic disease (or for loved ones, a fellow-member). Ask God for comfort and hope with a view to eternal healing. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Friday June 29 - Lust: a way forward

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. - 1 Timothy 2:22 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 2 The writer of Proverbs would agree with Paul: the answer to lust is to run hard in the opposite direction. A serious Christian response would be to recognize the gateways in our lives that tend to allure us to lust and provide a strong defense. Walking is not enough; we are called to run and flee. When I reported smelling gas in our house foyer, the gas company came the same day. Their first response was not to search for a leak: it was to shut off the gas at the source. There are practical steps we can take, including internet filters and accountability programs for ourselves and our children. But we need to go deeper. Sexual sin is by its nature selfish, it turns in on itself. Surely part of the solution is to look on my neighbour with respect, to pursue meaningful relationships, especially in the church, and to look outside of myself to ways in which I can serve others. This cannot remain a lonely battle. We need to help one another and pray for each other. It is an issue facing the entire church and we need to stand up to it together. It will not be enough to avoid sexual sin. We must pursue something better, develop an appetite for real love, real pleasure in God's good gifts, and ultimately real joy in Jesus Christ Himself. Suggestions for prayer “I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and Thou alone canst give me the thing desired.” – The Valley of Vision: Longings After God This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Thursday June 28 - Jesus Christ and our lust

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. - Ephesians 5:25-26 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5 There is no sin that puts us beyond the reach of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther once said, “We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair.” Preach the good news to your own broken heart 100 times a day. Do not turn away from Christ, but towards Him in solemn repentance and fervent hope. The Song of Solomon is most definitely a marvelous picture of human love in all of its realms; its description of holy sexual love is not easy dinnertime reading. But it also serves as a picture of Christ's love and affection for His church. The entire Bible can be seen as the Heavenly Bridegroom's pursuit of His Bride. Do you see His love for her, His desire for her welfare, His pleasure in her response, His devotion to her joy and future? Sexual sin is partnered with shame and thus is often left in the shadows, where it feels like there is no help or hope. But Jesus Christ pursued death on the cross for sexual sinners, to remove shame and guilt, to break the hold that lust has on so many. This is the great hope for all of us, and the hope we hold out to a world that is so broken. Suggestions for prayer “May I never forget that Thou hast my heart in Thy hands. Apply to it the merits of Christ's atoning blood whenever I sin. Let Thy mercies draw me to Thyself.” – The Valley of Vision: Penitence This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Wednesday June 27 - Lust defined

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body...Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. - 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 6 Lust is disordered desire, for we were made to desire within the covenant between a man and a woman. Lust is wanting too much, unbridled desire, foolish desire. Lust is also wanting too little, satisfied with pleasure and relief rather than the superior satisfaction of trusting God and engaging in the hard work of a lifelong relationship with another person. Jesus said in Matthew 15, “Out of the heart proceed adulteries, fornications, sexual immorality – these are what defile a man...” Someone once wrote, “lust is a problem with the heart above your belt before it is a problem with the heat below.” Lust is a rival to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, one that is seeking to destroy us. It fits in well with today's consumer attitude: my paramount demand is that my demands are met. Lust is a party for one. When we lust our world closes in; it feels like we are quenching a natural thirst, but we are entering a world without real water. Jesus Christ said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” Suggestions for prayer “My every sense is a snare to me...If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust...Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, but let me not forget my heavenly title, or the grace that can deal with every sin.” – The Valley of Vision: Self-Deprecation This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Tuesday June 26 - Lust defined

Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. - Proverbs 7:25-26 Scripture reading: Proverbs 7 In his Confessions, Augustine compares his struggles with lust to slavery: “The truth is that disordered lust springs from a perverted will; when lust is pandered to, a habit is formed; when habit is not checked, it hardens into compulsion.” It would be difficult to overemphasize the problem with lust in our culture and how that has affected the church of Jesus Christ. The writer of Proverbs pictures Wisdom as a Person crying out in the streets for all to be heard. The Folly of lust is right there as well and, for many, they are so compromised that they can no longer hear Wisdom, loud as she may be. The father of Proverbs takes his son on a tour of the city to view the dangers of lust and expose its emptiness and slavery. We live in a world that seeks to fulfill every base and debauched thirst. It is a world that feels more lost and unsatisfied every day. It is actively preying on our children. Sexual lust of every kind attacks and maims, damages relationships and marriages and future marriages. It fills our hearts with shame and guilt. It sucks the energy out of gospel courage and confidence, leadership in the home and church. Nowhere else do we find such a need for gospel light and a church motivated to help. “Say to Wisdom: You are my sister, and call insight your intimate friend” (Prov 7:4). Suggestions for prayer “Subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my soul into subjection, but do thou rule over me in liberty and power.” – The Valley of Vision: Confession and Petition This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Thursday June 21 – Greed: a way forward

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. - 1 Timothy 6:6-8 Scripture reading: Philippians 4 How often do you feel content with the circumstances, gifts, possessions, people, that the Lord has given to you? You feel very strongly that this is a prize you seem to be chasing your entire life. It can be so elusive. When Paul speaks of experiencing both sides, having little and having plenty, he tells us that he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11-12). During a teaching and preaching trip in India, I noticed that each of the pastors I visited had at least one parent living with them. When I inquired into this, I discovered how normal this was. Parents did not save for their retirement because they had invested their lives in their children and knew they could depend on them for support in their later years. This struck me as a helpful foil to greed and the dream of future financial prosperity. Do not bow to the idolatry of money, to the consumerist plague of our time. Resolve to treat your resources as God's gift to you to be used for His glory. Give away as much as you are able. Live simply but share greatly. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; do not be anxious. “You know that you yourselves have a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34). Suggestions for prayer “Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day.” – The Valley of Vision: Heart Corruptions This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Wednesday June 20 - Jesus Christ and our greed

Fool...so is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. – Luke 12:21 Scripture reading: Luke 12:1-21 What could you buy on the streets of Jerusalem? I'm not sure exactly, but I do know that it pales in comparison to the options we have today. And yet, the worship of money, greed for stuff, is one of Jesus' favourite topics. The Son of God came down to earth and was appalled at how much people were captivated by what they could acquire and at how little they were captivated by His Father and His plan of redemption. Their love of money had blinded them to their need for Him. Jesus came to expose the empty claims to joy that greed believes in. Feel his sadness as the rich young ruler walks away from the Hope of the world because his money and possessions owned him. He has come to break the power of greed in our lives. And how far he has come: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). His life was filled with giving away what He had, denying His own rights, putting aside the glory He deserved. His was a life of giving, not taking: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again” (John 10:17). Suggestions for prayer “Give me a holy avarice (greed) to redeem the time, to awake at every call to charity and piety. Let me live a life of self-distrust and dependence on Thyself.” – The Valley of Vision: The Infinite and the Finite This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Tuesday June 19 – Greed defined

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. – 1 Timothy 6:10 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 6 A 19th century author wrote about his successful life and the large amount of wealth he was able to amass for himself. His last penned words were his own epitaph: “I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing.” Being a steward over the good gifts of God, including money and possessions, is a trust, an honour, an opportunity. Any amount of worship of those good things, though, will be ultimately disappointing and disastrous. Imagine the Preacher of Ecclesiastes on your right shoulder, reminding you, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, a chasing after the wind.” The stats don't lie; North Americans are addicted to wanting more and wanting it now. We may be entirely content until someone tells us about their new car or we see an advertisement for a sweater or burger that we suddenly cannot do without. Greed is a cousin of envy because we compare ourselves with others and compete with our wallets and credit cards. We feel free, independent and in control. But we are easily ensnared. John Piper once said, “The contentment that the heart should be getting from God – greed starts to get from something else.” Suggestions for prayer “Turn by heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ.” – The Valley of Vision: The Infinite and the Finite This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Monday June 18 - Greed defined

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." – Hebrews 13:5 Scripture Reading: Hebrews 13 I remember a co-worker I had as a teenager. We called him Devo. Slow times allowed us to talk a lot. One of his favourite topics was the amount of credit he had through his credit cards. It filled him with a sense of power and control to know that he could go out that weekend and spend $35000 and no one could stop him. It was an early wakeup call for me. Making a priority out of trusting and serving Jesus Christ was going to be challenged by the allure of trusting and serving money and what money could buy. The world is not the way it is supposed to be. Sin is a perversion of all that God called very good at creation. We experience its pollution, its corruption, at every level. Sin is a parasite. The devil cannot create anything good but only twist what God has made. So it is with greed. Greed is good desire gone wrong, taking the good gifts and good opportunities that God has given us and making them ultimate. Interesting, isn't it, that the writer to the Hebrews ends his masterpiece on the person and work of Jesus Christ with an exhortation about money. That should tell us something about our vulnerability here: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Suggestions for prayer “When Thy blessings come I begin to idolize them, and set my affection on some beloved object – children, friends, wealth, honour; Cleanse this spiritual adultery...close my heart to all but Thee” – The Valley of Vision: A Cry for Deliverance This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Wednesday June 13 – Anger: a way forward

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20 Scripture reading: James 1 Anger serves as a helpful whistleblower in our lives. Follow your anger to the passions and desires you have and you will find what you are actually in love with. Pray to the Spirit to thus reveal the idols of your heart and allow you to reorient your love in the direction of Christ and His kingdom. This broken world is full of anger; sprinkle the salt of kindness, gentleness, patience and mercy for all to see. “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” (Eccl. 7:9). Practice humble forgiveness for those who have done you wrong. Embrace mercy towards others with the type of earnest passion that Jesus demonstrated towards others. Be slow to speak and to judge another person; take your time and listen. Get angry at the right things: your own sin and failures, as well as the broken world and the broken hearts all around you. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger...be put away from you...Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:31-32). Suggestions for prayer “I bless Thee for the discoveries, invitations, promises of the gospel, for in them is pardon for rebels, liberty for captives, health for the sick, salvation for the lost.” – The Valley of Vision: Living for Jesus This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Tuesday June 12 – Jesus Christ and our anger

Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:29 Scripture reading: Matthew 11 This is true love. The Lord of Glory, the Word, the Alpha and the Omega left the joy and glory of heaven to dwell with sinful man in this broken world. The good news is that He did not treat us as we deserve; He did not pour out just wrath on sinful mankind in an act of sudden and permanent judgment. Instead, He bore the wrath of the Father on an accursed tree to set us free. His spirit, even while suffering on the cross, was one of patience and forgiveness (Luke 23:34). This knowledge of our Savior is the starting and ending point of all struggle against the sin of anger. In Mark 3, Jesus heals a man with a deformed hand on the Sabbath. Some religious leaders balked at his carefree attitude towards the law. We read of Jesus in verse 5, “He looked around at them in anger and in deep distress at their stubborn hearts.” You can feel the love of Christ for sinners, even in his anger and distress. We instinctively look to defend and attack, but “as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth” (Is. 53:7). Watch as Jesus exerts His energy and passion against all that threatens the church that He loves. This is how much pleasure He takes in you. He is worthy of every ounce of your faith. Suggestions for prayer “My love is frost and cold, ice and snow; let His love warm me, lighten my burden, be my heaven.” – The Valley of Vision: The Love of Jesus This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Monday June 11 - Anger defined

  What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. – James 4:1-2  Scripture reading: Genesis 27 So anger is all about what you love. Sinful anger involves loving all the wrong things. We get angry to protect the things we love. If we love and highly value comfort, we may yell at our children when they disturb it. When I feel that respect due to me is threatened, I may react with anger against the person challenging my reputation. This is why we are so often blind to our anger: we are simply protecting what we love and feel deeply about. The more we invest in what we love, the harder we will fight to protect it. Be careful that you do not underestimate just how dangerous anger is. Because anger will often feel incredibly empowering. Rebekah said to Jacob, “Your brother Esau comforts himself with the thought of killing you” (Gen. 27:42). Anger is so destructive, to ourselves and to those around us. Frederick Buechner once wrote: “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances lost past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come...in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” Suggestions for prayer “I am troubled for my sin of passion, for the shame and horror of it as an evil; Lord God, I know that my sudden anger arises when things cross me, and I desire to please only myself, not Christ.” – The Valley of Vision: Passion This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Sunday June 10 – Anger defined

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity for the devil. – Ephesians 4:26-27 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4 Envy, pride, lust, greed: there is something so ordinary about the seven deadly sins, something so basic to the heart of mankind lost in sin, broken and corrupt. There is an extra ingredient in the next in our list: anger. The Bible actually has some pretty positive things to say about anger; above all, God Himself is said to be angry (Ps. 7:11). You see, anger is really about what and how you love. God loves holiness, righteousness, wholeness, light. And the more you love something, the angrier you are when it is threatened, when it is in danger. There is a beauty then in God's anger which is marvelous to see. His love for this world, for those made in His image, for His plan, are so deep and so constant, that He will hate and oppose and pour out His wrath against any opposition. On the same theme, a wife's anger over her husband's infidelity is not only understandable, it is holy. The problem is, our anger is, at the best, mixed with all kinds of sins and, at the worst, actually not righteous or holy at all, but is just concerned with standing up for our own rights. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it.” But what about anger as a deadly sin? Sinful anger is also about love, but love in the wrong direction. Suggestions for prayer “O Holy Trinity, three Persons and one God, inhabit me, a temple consecrated to Thy glory. When thou art present, evil cannot abide; in thy fellowship is fullness of joy.” – The Valley of Vision: The Great God This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Tuesday June 5 - Pride: a way forward

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. – 1 Peter 5:6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5 We need our pride opposed by God, we need to be humbled by His Word, His Spirit, and the circumstances that He brings into our lives. We need to give up our demand for what we deserve, for what we deserve is judgment and death. Jesus taught His disciples that, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus practiced this without fail in His own life and death and sets it as a pattern for His church. Think about this carefully: what people in your life will benefit from your humble servanthood? As you come to be more like your humble Savior, who will be affected? Think of everyday conversations and interactions. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.” Have you been humbled recently? Feeling weak is the best garden for the flowering of dependence upon God's sufficient grace. Allow the superior satisfaction in God to overpower your self-preoccupation. Ultimately the Father is remaking us in His Son's image. We must be willing to be humiliated as He was. Let us say, with Paul, “...far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14 Suggestions for prayer “Holy Spirit, Make me the lowest of the lowly, that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. Keep me humble, meek, lowly.” – The Valley of Vision: Pride This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Monday June 4 - Jesus Christ and our pride

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who...being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5, 8 Scripture reading: Philippians 2 The greatest foil to pride in our lives is to come to know our humble Savior, the Lord Jesus, deeper and deeper. Watch as the highest becomes the lowest: in His birth, life, suffering, death and burial. He did not need to lower Himself one inch towards us, and yet He voluntarily bent Himself in submission to His Father's will to accomplish what only He could accomplish. He allows Himself to be baptized – Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God! Confess Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, in the face of every ounce of pride remaining in your heart. For your Savior was ridiculed, misunderstood, mocked, spat upon, struck, bargained over, pierced with thorns and nails, brutally crucified, killed, all while bearing the unthinkable weight of the sins of the world upon Himself. John Flavel once wrote, “Was not this astonishing self-denial? That He, who from eternity, had His Father's smiles and honours, He that from the creation was adored, and worshiped by angels, as their God, must now become a footstool for every miscreant to tread on.” Suggestions for prayer “Dearest Savior, when I am tempted to think highly of myself, grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy; Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower of faith, and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord” – The Valley of Vision: Pride This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA.  ...

Daily devotional

Sunday June 3 – Pride defined

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. – James 4:6 Scripture reading: James 4 How would you define pride? Self-promotion, self-absorption, self-exaltation? When things are going well, pride takes the credit; I worked hard, I dieted well, I scored a hat-trick. When things are going poorly, pride plays the blame game; things are not fair, I deserve better. Pride wants to be the center of attention. There is even a false humility that craves sympathy – look at me, feel sorry for me, praise me, notice me. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Pride wants to keep away from everything that will make it feel small.” It's true; our sinful pride makes us feel threatened by others, by their skills, accomplishments, jobs, children, appearance, car, etc. We compare ourselves to others and build our identity based on how we match up to those we consider to be above or below us. Someone else said that the proud person thinks a lot about herself and also a lot of herself. Pride ultimately is the creature made in God's image contending for glory with God Himself. Therefore, it cannot be anything but self-destructive. Jeremiah 9 offers this gracious instruction: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me.” Suggestions for prayer “Gracious God, Help me to see myself in Thy sight, then pride must wither, decay, die, perish. Humble my heart before Thee, and replenish it with Thy choicest gifts.” – The Valley of Vision: Pride This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Saturday June 2 - Pride defined

These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look... – Proverbs 6:16-17 Scripture reading: Proverbs 6 It's probably not surprising to you to find pride at the top of the list of the seven deadly sins. We know pride is a problem. But how much of a problem? Someone once said, “To say that we are a speck of dust, in the context of the enormity of space out there, is an insult to a speck of dust.” We are creatures made in the image of an infinite Creator. And yet we are consumed with ourselves. Worse, we are carelessly unaware of how deep an issue pride is. Daniel chapter four is a personal favourite, partially because it shows the end of pride. Just picture great King Nebuchadnezzar revelling in all his perceived glory. Listen to the voice of Almighty God from heaven. Watch the king's transformation into a lawn-munching beast. Such is the insanity of our pride in the world belonging to Almighty God. The insanity has infested our hearts in so many different ways. Thank God He hates pride as an abomination and is determined to eradicate it. Suggestions for prayer “Heavenly Father, Every faculty of mind and body is Thy undeserved gift. Low as I am as a creature, I am lower as a sinner; how can I flaunt myself proudly?” – The Valley of Vision: Pride This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA....

Daily devotional

Monday May 28 - How long?

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? - Psalm 13:1a  Scripture reading: Psalm 13 Psalm 13 begins with a fourfold lament of penetrating questions all prefaced by the cry, how long? (Verses 1&2, please read again). David is lamenting with expressions of despair and anguish. He is more than down in the dumps. He is initially paralyzed, unable to deal with the realities of his enemies. Are you discouraged? Do you feel like God has forgotten you? Is your heart clouded by sorrow? Are the tests, trials and even tribulations in your life almost too much to handle? Are you overwhelmed by the turbulence in your life? Do you in your situation cry out, how long, O LORD? David is praying and as he pours out his heart, he moves from despair to a plea for God’s answer (Verses 3&4, please read again). We hear his desire for God’s answer. And then in the final two verses (Verses 5&6, please read again), we hear a complete turnaround. David gives expression to the confidence that belongs to him, in faith. He takes strength in the steadfast love of God. He confesses that God, in covenant love, has bound Himself to His people. Psalm 13 moves from despair, to desire, to delight. Prayer is a rich gift. Bring your heart cries to the Sovereign LORD. Be comforted in His promises. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Believer, when you are on your knees, remember you are going to a king. Let your petitions be large.” Do you trust God to be at your side no matter what the circumstance? Suggestions for prayer Approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Pray, trusting God to uphold us in times of turbulence. Remember “...faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Sunday May 27 - Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? - Psalm 15:1 Scripture Reading: Psalm 15 Today, in freedom, we may attend the house of the Lord, seeking His face to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. In the place of worship, we come as guests. Psalm 15 is very clear as to who are invited guests. Psalm 15 outlines the character of worshippers. They are, by God’s grace, people of integrity. Integrity can be defined as "steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code; the quality or condition of being whole or undivided." Integrity is seeking to be true to God’s standards. Honesty and sincerity are hallmarks of integrity. A person who lacks integrity is someone who says one thing and does another – and that person is a hypocrite. Who can reach such a standard? Thankfully, we do not come to the Lord’s house of praise, prayer and proclamation in our own name or by our own merit. We come before the LORD in the Name of the One Who perfectly fulfilled God’s standards, Jesus Christ. And it is in His Name that we seek to honour our heavenly Father with a heart washed in the blood of our Redeemer. In God’s grace, we present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. We confess the wonder of God’s wonder-working love for needy sinners. As said by another: "We are saved by the gospel of God, in order to worship the God of the gospel." Today again is a day of glorious opportunity. Will you self-consciously offer yourself this Lord’s Day for His honour? Suggestions for prayer Integrity is essential if any believer is to represent God and Christ in this world. Pray for Christ-like integrity as outlined in Psalm 15. Give thanks for our multiple provisions in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Saturday May 26 - If the foundations are destroyed...

If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do? - Psalm 11:3 Scripture Reading: Psalm 11 It is no secret that hostility against the truth of Scripture and the God of Scripture is on the increase. To be sure, each age, in turn, has had its own hostilities and we must be very careful that we do not fall into the trap that believes there was once a golden age. Nevertheless, our present age is marked by gathering storm clouds. Society wishes to do away with absolutes and assert that man is the measure of all things. What is one to do in a world where the foundations established by God are ridiculed? The sanctity of life is mocked. Babies are murdered in their own mother’s womb. There are those who consider the elderly to be expendable. Confusion exists with respect to gender. And the list goes on. Outside the confession of God’s sovereignty, we would be left in a daze. Thankfully, believers recognize "that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet." Psalm 11 is a psalm of refuge. With David of long ago, our confidence must always rest in God and His covenant promises. Life is much bigger than our cranky computers, our erstwhile projects, earning a living, struggling marriages, prodigal children, defiant unbelievers and the many troubles of this world. Nothing surprises God; His all-seeing eye is never closed. He will test His people, but He will never forsake them. In faith, believers rest in both the confidence and the comfort that our times are in His hands. Do you? Suggestions for prayer Pray in that joy that confesses: “This is my Father’s world: Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King, let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Friday May 25 - Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows Him his counsel? –Isaiah 40:13 (cf. Romans 11:33-36; I Corinthians 2:16) Scripture reading: Isaiah 40 Isaiah 40 teaches us something of the great greatness of God. When you read this chapter thoughtfully, you can not help but be amazed. God has no comparison. God is not subject to the limits of space and time. He has everything, everywhere always before His mind. God’s perfections are unchangeable. God is infinite. We are finite comparable to grasshoppers (v. 22.) He knows all there is to know; God’s ways are beyond us; His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8); they are often past finding out. The immensity of God is awe-inspiring. We are limited in our understanding. "The ways of the LORD are right" (Hosea 14:9). With the Belgic Confession, Article 13, Reformed believers confess: “As to what God does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, to learn only those things which He has revealed to us in His Word, without transgressing these limits." Let us content ourselves in the wonder of God’s mind, recognizing that His understanding is unsearchable. The thought of God staggers our mind, but to know Him satisfies the heart. Take comfort in the fact God, in His grace, chooses to reveal Himself to His people in Jesus Christ. Delight to know our awesome God and press on in the calling to enjoy Him forever. Will you do so today? Suggestions for prayer In prayer, praise God for His glory. Express thanksgiving for particular attributes. Be specific. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Sunday May 20 - What does this mean?

 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” – Acts 2:12 Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1-5; 2:1-12 Today, as the body of Christ, we gather for worship. It is, as congregations, our greatest privilege and highest responsibility. And on this Lord’s Day, we mark another once for all event in salvation history. On the first Pentecost Sunday (10 days after Christ’s Ascension; 50 days following His Resurrection), now almost two thousand years ago, there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, divided tongues as of fire resting on the apostles’ heads and the speaking of languages/tongues which were spoken in all parts of the eastern Mediterranean region, from Rome to Persia. All of this astounded those who witnessed these three signs and, humanly speaking, no wonder they were filled with wonder. What can this mean? The wind testifies to the power and presence of the Spirit; fire speaks to the Spirit’s cleansing and judging power and the languages of the gospel to be proclaimed to all nations – every tribe and every tongue. These signs confirmed what Jesus had earlier promised. In the gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to be their Advocate, their Helper and Comforter (14:16-17), their Teacher (14:26), testifying/bearing witness to Jesus, guiding them into all truth (16:13). On Pentecost Sunday, Christ’s promise was confirmed and the sheep of the sheepfold live out of the fruit of that promise day by day. The Church of all ages, scattered across the face of the globe, takes strength and joy in the working of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the work of the Holy Spirit. Pray that you might grow in the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Picture is Raphael's "St. Paul Preaching" standing in, of course, for Peter preaching on Pentecost....

Daily devotional

Saturday May 19 – What must I do to inherit eternal life?

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" – Luke 18:18 Scripture: Luke 18:18-30 No one can possibly go forward in the gracious strength of the LORD until he has first learned to stand still in his own helplessness. The rich ruler did not know his own helplessness. He relied on his own "merits" rather than the merits of Christ. He assumed that his deeds would earn him eternal life. And when challenged and confronted with a choice, he chose his possessions rather than putting God first. We must never forget that we can be right with God only by true faith in Jesus Christ. We must recognize that even though our conscience accuses us of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though we are still inclined toward all evil. Nevertheless, without our deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to believers the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ, as if the believer had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if the believer had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for His sheep. The believer must simply accept this gift of God with a believing heart (cf Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 60). Jesus knew that materialism and greed were preventing his questioner from truly seeking salvation. The rich ruler did not know his own sin and thus he did not know his need for a Saviour. As the question of the life to come confronts you (as it does every day) how will you answer? Suggestions for prayer Confessing your great need can only be answered in Christ and the power of His washing blood. Praise God for His justifying grace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Friday May 18 – My God, why has thou forsaken me?

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” –Mark 15:34b (cf. Psalm 22:1) Scripture reading: Mark 15:21-41 This haunting question from the heart of Jesus ought to send shivers down our spine and pierce our soul. The sinless One hangs suspended between heaven and earth. In utter darkness, the Redeemer experiences a depth of suffering we will never understand. He is forsaken by the heavenly Father. It is true that during His whole life on earth, Christ sustained, in body and soul, the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. But especially at the end, oh, how He suffered. This He did in order that, by His suffering as the only atoning sacrifice, He might set believers free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation. And in turn, this suffering gains for the true Christian, God’s grace, righteousness and eternal life. He suffered to free believers from the severe judgment of God that we rightly deserve. He went all the way to the death because God’s justice and truth demand it. By the power of His divinity, He bore the weight of God’s anger in His humanity and earned and restored righteousness and life to all those who have been set free in Christ. Our Saviour shouldered the curse which rightfully belongs to all of us. Death by crucifixion was accursed by God (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q&As 17, 37, 39, 40). The birth of Christ brought God to man; the cross of Christ brought man to God. The wonder of it all cannot be comprehended. Will you dedicate yourself as an offering of gratitude to Him? (cf Q&A 43; Psalm 116:12-14). Suggestions for prayer Give praise to God: Christ, in love, experienced the horror of hell – suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul – so that His disciples, through all ages, would be delivered from the anguish and torment of hell. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Thursday May 17 – What shall I do then with Jesus?

Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” – Matthew 27:22 Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:11-31 Pilate was in a quandary as he backed himself into a corner of his own making. What to do with Jesus? He knew Jesus to be innocent, but he was also a political opportunist. Ultimately, he chose to yield to the crowd. One day the fickle crowd had shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Matthew 21:9). A few days later it became, “Crucify Him!” In every age, there have been those who have misunderstood the mission and the person of Jesus Christ. A little peer pressure can lead to great error. There is a great deal of so-called Christianity that is quite Christ-less. “Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere, really believe in the only Saviour Jesus? No. Although they boast of being His, by their deeds they deny the only Saviour and deliverer, Jesus. Either Jesus is not a perfect Saviour, or those who in true faith accept this Saviour have in Him all they need for their salvation." – Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 30 For the believer, it is imperative that there be no misunderstanding. Life is to be lived according to the most holy faith as outlined in Scripture. What we think of Jesus shows in how we relate to Him. Trust Him. Believe His promises. Adore Him. Serve Him. Ultimately there is no one who can escape the question asked by Pilate: “What then should I do with Jesus?” Suggestions for prayer Both in prayer and daily life confess Jesus as the Christ. Ask for strength to confess His Name aright, to present yourself as a living sacrifice of thanks and to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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