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Daily devotional

June 1 – Introduction to Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is a wonderful book for getting our focus on the Christian life. There are so many powerful verses that challenge our faith and encourage us in our walk with God! Over the years I have been blessed by going through the book of Proverbs in my preaching, but also in my personal devotions. It’s an enriching experience. I have selected some of my favorites, ones that you may know well and some not so well. But regardless, I pray that you will find these various proverbs to be a blessing to your own walk with God and to your family as well. The book of Proverbs speaks to all of life and to the many situations we often find ourselves in as Christians. And so the more we read and apply these great truths to our own lives the more we’ll be equipped as servants for living faithful lives in God’s kingdom!

Daily trusting in God

“Trust in the LORD will all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 Scripture reading: Proverbs 3 The first four chapters of Proverbs show us the great need for knowledge and wisdom in the life of God’s people. Solomon, writing to his son in chapter 3, impresses that upon him in verses 1-4. But then in verse 6, we have this wonderful affirmation of why we’re to trust in our faithful covenant God: “He shall direct your paths”! The idea here is of someone clearing the way and making your path smooth, of taking out the obstacles. This is what God does for those who “trust” and “acknowledge” Him. He is faithful to guide them and take care of their lives! The Christian life is marked by an active, daily trust in God! The idea is that we’re leaning upon Him and not ourselves. But that’s the great challenge for us! For we often see ourselves as wise and capable of handling life’s difficulties, trials, or temptations on our own, but we can’t! Solomon makes that clear, “Trust in the LORD…and lean not on your own understanding.” There is to be no self-reliance! So as we “trust” in God, we “acknowledge” Him, that is, we confess His rule over our lives and that His Word is to be obeyed above all things! Thus, this humble life of faith and confession of God’s authority leads to our blessing. For God graciously and lovingly leads His sheep as a faithful Shepherd! As Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would cause you to daily trust in Him and acknowledge His control and direction of your life. Pray that you would die more and more to relying on yourself and rest in His faithfulness, for He will direct your paths!

Rev. Ancel Merwin is the minister of Immanuel United Reformed Church in Listowel, Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

Daily devotional

SUNDAY, May 24 – To the angel of the Church in Philadephia (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Psalm 23 Long ago David declared “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). The closing words of Psalm 23 speak of David’s conviction to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (vs. 6). As the body of Christ, we come together to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. The preaching of the Word, together with the celebration of the sacraments are the means of grace. We come together as one church, in one faith and one hope. And we are to come as overcomers. Several times now in our devotions this month we have received the call to overcome. How do you understand that for your life and how do you understand that for the church to which you belong? How is it that you approach worship and what is your perspective as you enter the sanctuary, the place set apart? What does it mean to live as overcomers day by day? To overcome is to prevail, to withstand, to gaining mastery over obstacles. It is to live out of Psalm 28:7a, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped”. Jesus promises the overcomer a name and a place. He promises that His people will have His Name written upon them. That promise is real because we know Him Who has “overcome the world” (John 16:3). He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for the grace to live as an overcomer, to hold fast. May that be true for the life of the church and our families. Thank God He holds His people fast. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 23 – To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-11 The Bible’s teaching concerning perseverance is a great comfort to all true believers. Jesus has assessed the church at Philadelphia and commends her with the promise of preservation. The Bible’s teaching concerning the Perseverance of the Saints is soul strengthening. The struggle against sin is great, also in our corporate life as the church. We must be thankful that believers may confess: “Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.” – Canons of Dort 5:3 God enables this perseverance by means of the grace of preservation. We can be confident in His promise that when He begins a good work in His people, He will bring it to completion (Phil. 1:6). Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me (John 6:37). And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” – John 10:28-29 Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His tender mercies. He will hold us fast. Pray that we would persist in living out His persevering care, all the while rejoicing in the perseverance of the saints. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 22 –  To the angel of the church in Phiadelphia (1)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Acts 14:21-28 What an encouragement the faithful church at Philadelphia must be to us. Jesus, who holds the key of David, grants an open door. He, in fact, is the door (cf. John 10:1-10). Christ is the only way to the blessings of the world to come. Sovereign authority belongs to our Redeemer. He controls the entrance into the Kingdom. The church at Philadelphia was characterized by faithfulness. Even though she was of little strength, she kept the Word of God and did not deny the Lord’s Name. Philadelphia may have been a small church and perhaps even beleaguered, but she had a big heart. Like Smyrna, she was not rebuked. She was not ashamed of the gospel; she kept Christ’s Word and did not deny His Name. The open door to kingdom life has been secured by the blood of the Good Shepherd. From the book of Acts, we know that God in His sovereign wisdom opened doors and consequently new believers were brought to saving faith and added to the church. But there were also doors that were closed. We see the same principle in effect to this very day. Gospel Light in the Western world is dimming, but in other parts of the world, it is a blazing light. Nevertheless, we still have the freedom to witness, to call others to the Open Door. Philadelphia was commended by our LORD. Would the church you are a member of receive the same commendation? Suggestions for prayer Pray for growing zeal and to remain faithful in your personal walk and in the life of the church. Pray that the church to which you belong works for that open door, testifying to the One Who is the Door. Praise God – Jesus is the open door to life eternal. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 21 – To the angel of the Church in Sardis (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:1-6 Scripture reading: Psalm 47 Today the church marks Ascension Day. It was that magnificent remarkable glorious moment in salvation history where Christ returned to heaven above where He is now seated and exalted at the right hand of our heavenly Father. Just before Jesus returned to glory He gave us the command to teach those who would become His followers to observe everything He commanded (cf. Matt. 28:20). Everything means everything. The great commandment to love God with the whole of who we are and the great commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves will always bring us to the great commission. How thankful that within the church at Sardis there was a remnant which lived a life faithful to observe what Christ taught. There is wheat among the tares. That being said, the remnant needed to step up and look up; look up to their interceding Saviour for needed strength to be an overcomer. They are promised, out of the storehouse of grace, to be clothed in white garments symbolizing the righteousness of purity and the great gift of justification by faith; garments graciously washed white in the blood of our Ascended King. What comfort to hear that our Saviour confesses those who are His before our Father in heaven and His angels! Let us never forget “that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: Jesus Christ the Righteous.” (Belgic Confession Art. 26) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer In our own strength we are nothing. Rejoice that our ascended Jesus, from the throne room in heaven, will supply the need of His people. Give thanks that Christ’s disciples will find their names in the Book of Life! Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 8 – To the angel of the Church of Ephesus (2

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:7-14 After some very encouraging words, the Lord reveals to the church of Ephesus that she has a major problem. He does not overlook their shortcoming, nor is His message sugar-coated. Jesus tells them they have left their first love; they are no longer filled with the same loving enthusiasm that belonged to them in their early history. The next generation does not hold the torch as brightly as those who had gone before them. We get the sense they have lost their passion for Christ, becoming mechanical in their approach to their life with Christ. This is a great danger for any church. Does the church you belong to have a passion for the Lord Jesus and is she on the march? It is easy for a church (and for believers) to simply go through the motions. When that happens there is something obviously wrong. When zeal is lacking, renewed repentance must be sought. Many in our society believe the church is simply a relic of a by-gone age. But the church remains the body of Christ and we who are part of that body must love our head—to love our Triune God with heart, soul, mind, body and strength remains our calling in answer to the first great commandment. Jesus has given us His life so that we would receive ours. In turn, we must ever learn to present ourselves to the Lord and His service – “My heart I offer to you LORD promptly and sincerely” (from Calvin’s motto). Suggestions for prayer Remind yourself, as Paul did to the church at Ephesus, of the many spiritual blessings we have in Christ! It is our privilege to give everything we have to the One who gave us everything on the cross. Give thanks. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 7 – To the angel of the Church of Ephesus (1)

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:1-6 Out of the mouth of Jesus went a sharp two-edged sword (cf. Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12) speaking with authoritative voice. John is given the words of Jesus to be sent to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus stood at the crossroads of four major trade routes and became known as the gateway to Asia and, sadly, for the idol worship of the so-called goddess, Diana. Paul ministered in Ephesus for some three years (cf. Acts 19) and, in God’s sovereign good pleasure, a church of the Way was established. The angel is the messenger who speaks the Word to the congregation — ordinarily an ordained pastor. The message begins with a word of commendation/approval. As churches, we can use encouragement for we face many struggles. Clearly, Christ knows in detail the works of all seven churches and of course also of the church where you are a member. Nothing can be hidden from our Redeemer. Jesus acknowledges the hard work of the believers gathered in Ephesus. He makes mention of their perseverance. Wicked men are not tolerated. Those claiming to be apostles have been tested and rejected. They have exercised discernment, they have endured hardship, they have labored for the Lord’s name’s sake, certainly an endurance to be much-admired. Many who read this devotion also belong to a local church with a specific address. How would the church you are a member of be characterized? What place do you hold in upholding the life and times of the church? Suggestions for prayer Keep the church to which you belong in your daily prayers. Pray to be a church full of true faith and enduring faithfulness. Pray for the grace to be active in the life and times of the church. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 6 - Christ appears in blazing glory!

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand, he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.’” - Revelation 1:12-20 Scripture reading: Daniel 7:9-14 As John is commissioned to his consecrated task, he is greeted by the incomparable Christ in all His blazing glory. It is similar to what the prophet Daniel experienced more than once many years earlier. What they both saw is enough to take your breath away. John is permitted to see the majestic Christ Who appears in radiating brilliance that can hardly begin to be grasped. Christ who stands at the junction of heaven and earth, Christ Who is the meeting place between time and eternity comes to John and speaks to him with a loud voice. The meek Christ is also the authoritative Christ. The title Son of Man is the one used most often by Christ Himself during His earthly ministry—some 81 times according to one counter. Soak in what John saw – head and hair glowing white and countenance like the shining sun reminding us of the glory cloud, the Shekinah (cf. Exodus 13) and the Transfiguration (cf. Luke 9). John saw eyes like a flame of fire, as someone else has said, like two lasers looking with penetrating gaze into the depth of His church. John saw feet like that of fine brass reminding us that the altar of burnt offering was covered with brass (cf. Exodus 38) and also taking us back to the glorious cross where Jesus was the offering. John heard the voice – a voice like that of the sound of many waters. It was and is incredible! No wonder John fell at the feet of Jesus as dead! Suggestions for prayer God’s people are to be filled with the wonder and awe of Christ. Pray in the conviction of Rev. 15:3: “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 5 - Write and send

"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, 'Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.'” - Revelation 1:9-11 Scripture reading: John 20:30-31; 21:24-25  Our Scripture text today records John’s marching orders. He is to write about what he will see and send it to the seven churches in Asia. In verse 9, John identifies himself to his readers. He is a brother in the faith. He is addressing family in the LORD. He is their companion in a season of persecution. (There still continues to be seasons of persecution all around the world.) But John also recognizes that He is part of the Kingdom—the Kingdom of Christ. He is learning patient endurance and perseverance despite difficult times. John has been exiled on a barren rocky island. He has been exiled for standing firm on the Word and for his testimony concerning Jesus. He is devoted to his Lord and Master. (Let us ask ourselves: Are we standing firm? What characterizes our devotion to the One we have been called to follow?) John has had first-hand experience with the Lord Jesus. He has witnessed our Redeemer’s authoritative preaching and teaching, Christ’s compassion, the miracles confirming Christ’s Deity and Christ's ultimate sacrifice as our substitute on the cross. John, in God’s grace, knows what he is talking about. John is obedient to the Master’s call to write and send. What a privilege it is for us to share in that message to this day. What a blessing for this same word from Genesis to Revelation to go out to all those who have been given ears to hear! Suggestions for prayer Pray for strength, day by day, to persevere in the most holy faith, to honor and serve the Lord in selfless devotion and to remember the more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 22 – Better than money

“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’” – Acts 3:6   Scripture reading: Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John could not give the man what he asked for, but they had something much greater –  the good news of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:7-8 speaks of this wealth saying, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Peter and John had learned this, and now they share their wealth with the lame beggar, saying to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Jesus Christ healed this man; Peter was merely an instrument. But Peter was sure. He reached out his hand, pulled the lame man up and the man stood. The healing the man experienced on the outside shows us what God was doing on the inside. As the apostles ministered in Jesus' name, so they brought the authority and blessings of Jesus Christ, namely life and restoration to all who believe. This is good news as we are all lame beggars and we must all find strength and comfort in Christ Jesus Who is gracious to us. Better than silver or gold, in Jesus’ name, we have forgiveness of sins. In Jesus’ name we have a new life.  Let this bring you to rejoice today, even as you still see and feel the burden of sin and brokenness in this life. Suggestions for prayer At times we feel like lame beggars and only want the things the world wants. Pray that God will help you give thanks for His blessings and share the riches of His grace. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 21 – What is a sinner to do?

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” – Acts 2:38 Scripture reading: Acts 2:22-36 Peter is tending the flock. The lost sheep of Israel are gathered and, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, Peter is explaining to them that Jesus, Whom they crucified, is their only hope for salvation. Now what? It might feel to the crowd as if they missed the only bus. After all, Jesus was rejected and crucified. The crowd knows their sin, so they cry out, “What shall we do?” The answer Peter gives is a summary of the Christian life. This is what Peter, a sinner, learned to do and now he speaks as one sinner to another, explaining the only way to be saved. Repent. That is, we must deny ourselves. We must flee from the idols of this world and devote ourselves wholly to God. This takes trust. We must trust that if we confess our sins, God will forgive them. This takes faith. We must have faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that if we turn from our sins, God will give us what we need to live a new life to His glory. We receive these from Christ in the gift of the Holy Spirit. By the Holy Spirit we are assured of God’s grace and given a new life wherein we can glorify God. Peter knew this gift and now he spreads the news so other sinners can know forgiveness and a new life. Do you know what it means to be forgiven and have the Holy Spirit? How can you share this good news in order that others may also know? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will never cease to be amazed at God’s grace to you. Ask the Lord to help you point others to the only way of salvation in Jesus Christ. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 20 – Going forward in faith

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” – Luke 24:44 Scripture reading: Acts 1:12-26 Jesus has ascended and the apostles and other followers are gathered together, but something is wrong. There are eleven apostles. During the whole of Jesus’ ministry, there were twelve apostles; twelve, like the number of the sons of Jacob. The number twelve showed the continuity of God’s plan of salvation for His chosen people. Now, with only eleven, it might feel like one stone has been pulled out of the foundation. Peter sinned and was reinstated, but Judas, though he grieved over his sin, did not turn to the Lord for forgiveness. Surely this brought much grief and discouragement to the disciples. But their faith is strengthened when they look to God’s Word. Peter takes the lead and reminds the brothers that both Judas’ betrayal and death were prophesied in Scripture (Psalm 69:25, Psalm 109:6-8). Scripture also said that another will take his office. Peter finds direction from Scripture and through this, he is able to guide the disciples. Jesus was not physically present with them, but God was still speaking to them by His Word. This is how God provides for His people. The disciples will pray and God will show them whom He has chosen to be the twelfth apostle. Where do you find your strength in difficult times? When others falter or the church struggles, do you still trust God’s care? Do you look to God’s Word during difficulties and come to God in prayer so that you are able to go forward with faith and encourage others to do the same? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His perfect plans which will work out all things for the good of those who love Him. Pray that God gives you trust, especially when things go “wrong” in our minds. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 19 – Give all glory to God

“In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:11b  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 Why does God do what He does? Why did Jesus die and rise from the dead? Why did Jesus put His arm around Peter and reinstate him as a disciple? Why didn’t Jesus get off the cross and leave Peter and every other sinner to their misery? If we are asking about motive, the answer is God’s love. For God so loved the world… If we are asking about purpose, the answer is for God’s glory. God made the world and everything in it for His glory. He made us for His glory. Sin entered the world and destroyed our ability to glorify God, but Christ came to restore us to the Father. We saw this for Peter, and we must know it for our own lives. When we humble ourselves, the Lord lifts us up and restores us. Why? That we may glorify God. Is this your goal in life? Today is set apart by God as a day of rest and worship. Are you eager to gather with God’s people and glorify Him? What about during the rest of the week? In your work, play, school, socializing and leisure, do you seek to glorify God? That is an awesome thing about the rescuing work of Jesus Christ. Jesus gives gifts and supplies all for us so that in everything, when we do it with love to God, God is glorified. How good this is, as there is no one else worthy of all glory! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for not only rescuing us but giving us gifts by which we can serve others and glorify Him. Ask God to help you see how you can serve Him and to give you strength to live a life for His glory. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 6 – Through the thresher

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

Daily devotional

April 5 – Seeking greatness

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

Daily devotional

April 4 – A new supper, the Lord’s Supper

Luke 22:19b–20 “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 Jesus gives Himself. My body, given for you. Isaiah 53 says, “He was crushed for our iniquities.” His body is given over to death in our place. Think of what this means. A substitute goes in the place of another. Sometimes, someone will find a friend to take a shift for them at work. But Jesus came to suffer the punishment for sin and die in substitution for all who will believe in Him. Jesus is talking to the disciples. They don’t know it, but it is like Jesus will jump on a grenade so he can die instead of them. But what Jesus was bringing had eternal consequences.  So Jesus gives this bread and message to His disciples. Will they understand? Will they believe? Their response and our response must be, “Yes, this is what I need! He must be crushed for my iniquities.” Jesus told the disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And that is what we do as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The sacrifice has been made. Christ’s death was the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins. And so we partake of the supper in remembrance and faith. This meal must teach us to see anew what Christ has done. Believe and be strengthened in your faith! Know deep in your hearts that this is real. Jesus Christ has given His body and blood for those who believe. Suggestions for prayer What is the role of Lord’s Supper in your life? Pray that you will look forward to partaking, and that Jesus will strengthen and assure your faith when you do partake. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

April 3 – A longed-for Passover

“And he said to them, ‘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 22:15-16 Scripture reading: Luke 22:7-23 With everyone sitting down, Jesus explains His eager desire to celebrate Passover with them. As they eat bread dipped in bitter herbs to remind them of the years of bitter slavery, Jesus speaks of a kingdom. He says, “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then Jesus takes the Passover cup, gives thanks to God for what they are given and tells the disciples to divide the wine among themselves. And He says, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” How odd. A cup of celebration and yet Jesus speaks of fasting. Something is coming. Jesus is no longer looking back on the Passover, but He is looking forward to a kingdom! The kingdom He looks forward to will be shown in part when Jesus rises from the dead, declaring victory over sin, death and Satan. They are conquered on the cross. But it is also a kingdom coming, to be here in full when Christ comes again in glory. Then the struggle comes to the final end. Then we will celebrate, Christ will take the bread and wine and feast with the church at the marriage supper of the Lamb. All believers will then drink of the fruit of the vine and eat of the bread in celebration. Where is your hope? Where do you find peace? Do you long for the return of Jesus and the celebration that it will bring? Suggestions for prayer Pray that as you look to what Christ has done, you will also look forward to what Christ will bring. So often we try to build our own kingdoms, so let us live for and pray for the Kingdom that is to come. Rev. Simon Lievaart is a pastor for Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. He and his wife Jodi have four children. ...

Daily devotional

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

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram...” – Genesis 15:18 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21 I trust you have not forgotten what I wrote about biblical covenants between God and His people. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem in this relationship that causes uncertainty. Against this background of the function of covenants in God’s relationship with His people, it should not surprise us that we once again read about a covenant, for there is a problem in Abram’s relationship with his God that causes uncertainty. God has just promised to give Abram and his descendants the gift of the land of Canaan, but Abram is not sure whether this will indeed happen, for he says to God, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Abram wants God to guarantee His commitment of giving him and his descendants the land of Canaan, possibly still in the light of the fact that he does not have a biological heir and that his wife is barren, even though he had believed that God would give him descendants as countless as the stars in the heavens. So, God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walk between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. Except, in this covenant, only God walks between the bloody carcasses of the animals. In doing so, He is swearing an oath: “May I be cut in half if I do not fulfill my promise of giving you the land of Canaan”. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to the deep significance of His covenant commitment to you (and your children). Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Faith and its reward

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

Daily devotional

March 19 – Doubting the fulfillment of God’s mission for His glory

“And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’” – Genesis 15:6 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:1-6 Do you ever doubt that God will succeed in His mission for His glory, making all things new in a world where His people and His world will again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet? Living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence and reflecting this glorious presence to all those around you, it's all yours as a reward, when you consider the promises of God to be trustworthy and entrust yourself to the God of this promise. Abram also has his doubts about a promise of God: that he would become a great nation. How can he become a great nation if he does not even have one child and his wife is barren? Abram is asked to believe this promise, but this promise, humanly speaking, cannot be fulfilled. So God comes to Abram’s help, appearing to him in a vision, telling him not to be afraid, for He is his shield. Moreover, his reward shall be very great. His promise that he will become a great nation is trustworthy. God then takes Abram outside, tells him to look at the sky and try to count the stars. God assures Abram that his descendants would be as countless as the stars of heaven. Abram believed God and God counted this to him as righteousness, i.e. believing God’s promises and entrusting yourself to the God of these promises is an attitude that does justice to your relationship with God. Suggestions for prayer If you have any doubts about the fulfillment of God’s mission for His glory, ask your heavenly Father to remove them. If you have no doubts, ask Him to continue to spare you these doubts. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 18 – Succeeding in being a blessing for the world

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” – Galatians 3:9 Scripture reading: Galatians 3:1-14   Israel failed to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by being a people and a place where heaven and earth meet, but God sent His own Son into the world to do what Israel failed to do. The Lord Jesus Christ perfectly reflected the glorious presence of His heavenly Father by being a person where heaven and earth beautifully met. He perfectly lived for the other with the sacrifices of His life and His death. In Him, all the families of the earth are blessed when they identify with Him and are joined to Him through faith. When they do, they receive the promised Holy Spirit, Who enables them to live for the other by becoming people where heaven and earth meet, because the Holy Spirit reproduces the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in them like a vine reproduces its life in the branches so that God’s mission for His glory is worked out in and through them. What the Lord Jesus Christ did with the sacrifices of His life and His death, He did for you as your substitute and representative. What He has done for you, He now wants to do in you as you entrust yourself to Him, opening yourself to Him entering into your soul with His Holy Spirit so that He becomes flesh and blood in your life. And you can say with the apostle Paul that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in you (Galatians 2:20). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to enable you to live in the Spirit, through faith, so that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in you. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

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

“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” – Exodus 31:17   Scripture reading: Exodus 31:12-17 Before God commanded Adam and Eve to extend the glorious presence of God over the whole earth, God blessed them for this task. When God blesses people for a certain task, this blessing is meant to make them fruitful for their task. After God had created for six days, He rested on the seventh day. In addition, He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. If in Genesis 1, blessing people for their task means making them fruitful in fulfilling their task, then blessing a day in Genesis 2, would mean making this day fruitful for the fulfilling of its task. Thus, it should not surprise us that God made the seventh day holy, i.e. He set it apart and made it a special day for the fulfillment of the purpose for which He had blessed it. From what we have seen so far, we can conclude that right from the beginning the seventh day was a reminder for Adam and Eve and their posterity of the goal of creation: to increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by extending the glorious presence of God throughout the whole earth through being people where heaven and earth meet. Accordingly, it should not surprise us that when God enters into a covenant with Israel, the seventh day officially becomes a sign of this goal of creation; a weekly reminder to enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest as well as a promise that one day this fullness will descend from heaven on a new earth. Suggestions for prayer Read the second part of Answer 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism and pray this back to your heavenly Father. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 4 – Entering God’s rest

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:26-28  Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26-28  So far we have seen that God created for His glory. This not only means that human beings and creation were to praise God, but also that they would reflect the life-giving, light-giving and loving presence of God. We further saw that there is a relationship between God creating for His glory and God resting on the seventh day. Because the seventh day was meant to last forever, this day is the goal of God’s creation. In other words, having humanity and creation praise God and reflect His glorious presence involves increasingly entering into the fullness of God’s rest, enjoying God’s beautiful and harmonious creation, and celebrating the rest and peace that God’s creation radiates. Genesis one shows us what this would look like for Adam and Eve. God made them in His image, i.e. as His representatives who would reflect and embody His presence as they cultivated and maintained the Garden of Eden. Moreover, God blessed them, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. This meant that Adam and Eve were to extend the borders of the Garden of Eden over the whole earth by having children and grandchildren and a whole extended family that would spread the glorious presence of God. In doing so, humanity and creation would increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest, reaching God’s goal of creation through their faithful living in God’s loving presence and reflecting this loving presence through their obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to spread the life of heaven by being a person where heaven and earth meet. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 3 – God’s glory and God’s rest

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” – Genesis 2:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 4:1-11 In Genesis one, we read about God bringing form in formlessness by subduing chaos and disorder. The first three days He forms light, sky, land and vegetation. Then for three days, He fills the forms: light-bearers for the day and night, birds and fish in the sky and water, and animals and people on the land. In the beginning of Genesis two, we read about God resting on the seventh day. First, God rests from His work of creating, but it also means that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Truly, everything that He had made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory. This harmonious creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail that is missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days of creating, we read that there was an evening and a morning. However, with the seventh day, we do not read this. This does not mean that the seventh day did not have an evening and a morning. However, by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s good creation was meant to last forever. Not in the beginning stage as we saw yesterday, but in the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and the new earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God on which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for your hope of glory: entering into the fullness of the joyful rest and peace of God’s loving presence. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 2 – God created for His glory

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23  Scripture reading: Revelation 21:9-22 Why did God create the world? God created for His glory so that human beings and creation would praise Him. However, the glory of God also means His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. Thus, God not only created the world so that human beings and creation would praise Him, but also so that human beings and creation would live in His loving presence and reflect this by participating in His life, light and love. However, when we look at the end of Scripture, we see that the end is better than the beginning. The beginning of creation is only the beginning of the life of glory while the new heaven and new earth are the perfection or consummation of the life of glory. In other words, there is room for growth to the perfection and fullness of living in God’s life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. You see this, for instance, in the fact that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, there were sun, moon and stars. But in the end, with the new heaven and the new earth, there will be no sun, moon, or stars, for creation and humanity will bask directly in the light of the glory of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is even more. While Adam and Eve could sin and die in the beginning, in the end, God’s new humanity will not be able to sin and die. We will be incorruptible and immortal just like God. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to live not only so that people will praise Him, but also so that you reflect His life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....