Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Browse thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news,and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians delivered direct to your inbox!

Create an Account

Save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Advertisement

Most Recent


Daily devotional

September 21 – The fruit of the Spirit is peace: peace with others

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God…Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Matthew 5:9 Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:6-7; Ephesians 4:1-7; 4:25-5:2 Don’t you long for world peace? The good news is that we have this hope in Christ, Who will come again to usher in an eternal age of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7; John 16:33). But to experience that everlasting peace you must first know peace with God, as we saw Saturday. As we grow in our assurance of the peace we have with God, we grow in peace within. From that gospel foundation in Christ, we are empowered by the Spirit to be peacemakers in this world, a central call of discipleship in Christ (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:17-21; Ephesians 4:1-7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:10-11; James 3:17-18; 2 Corinthians 13:11, and more!). Being a peacemaker is not easy. As Ken Sande has put it, we tend to be peace-breakers or peace-fakers. How can we grow as peacemakers? In order to grow in peacemaking, we must grow in patience with others, in love and humility towards others, gentleness in speech, confessing our sins to others, forgiving others and more. The pattern and power for these things are found in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Remember how great your sins are, how you deserve God’s wrath, but you have peace with God through the precious blood of Christ. Rest in perfect peace with God in Christ. In gratitude, walk by the Spirit in patience, love, humility and gentleness, confessing your sins and forgiving others, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-5:2). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins against others to God. Pray for the strength to seek forgiveness from them. Pray for the strength to forgive others who have sinned against you and to strive for reconciliation. Look forward to the day of perfect peace when Christ returns.

Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

Daily devotional

September 16 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the test of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:14-21 Sometimes we have a counterfeit love. This is where we love others not for their intrinsic dignity and worth, but for how they make us feel or what we can get from them. As we saw yesterday, love is sacrificial and selfless, patterned after the cross of Christ. But love doesn’t come easy to us because bearing a cross isn’t easy and our sinful nature wants to turn us in on ourselves. Some people are also difficult to love. But when love doesn’t come easy, it tests our love. Do we really love as Christ loved us? Do we love this person, even when it’s difficult, or do we only love them when they make us feel good or we get something from them? There are times where relationships can be so extremely harmful that we need to remove ourselves from them. But in most relationships our tendency is to bail too soon, right when the opportunity to truly love arises. Martin Luther put it this way: "Whenever you are angry with your brother for any cause, repress your violent emotions through the Spirit. Bear with his weakness and love him. He does not cease to be your neighbour or brother because he offended you. On the contrary, he now more than ever before requires your loving attention." Where do we find the strength to love when it’s difficult? As we saw yesterday, it’s a fruit of the Spirit produced in us through prayer and meditation on the cross. Suggestions for prayer Sing and meditate on the words of the great hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Pray for the Spirit’s immeasurable strength to love others, even when it’s difficult (Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:14-21). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 15 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the pattern and power of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 John 3:16-18; 4:9-11, 19 What is love? God is the source of love (1 John 4:7-8). If we want to know what love is, we must look to God as He has revealed His love in His Word, supremely in the Word made flesh. Jesus is love incarnate. When we look to Jesus, we discover that love is not simply an emotion, a warm fuzzy feeling that you have for another person. Rather, love is sacrificial and selfless. It gives to another (John 3:16), even to one’s enemies (Romans 5:6-8). We see this supremely displayed in the cross: “By this we know love, that he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Here we see that the cross gives us both the pattern and power to love. Love is defined by the cross (“by this we know love”).  The Spirit uses the preaching of the cross to empower us to love (“and we ought to lay down our lives”; also 1 John 4:9-11, 19). No doubt love involves our emotions. But at the center of love is sacrifice and selflessness. In the words of John Stott, “Christian love is not the victim of our emotions but the servant of our will.” Loving others isn’t always easy (Galatians 5:17). We need the Spirit to produce the fruit of love in us. He does it as we behold the love of Christ proclaimed in the Word and sacraments and pray for the fruit of love. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will empower you by the Spirit to love others as Christ first loved you and gave Himself for you. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love others not for what you get from them, but rather, self-sacrificially. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 14 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: love for one another

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-11; 5:1-3 We’ve begun to see that love for God and love for each other are intimately connected. To say you love God, while you hate your brother/sister in Christ or your neighbour, is a contradiction. Love for God is obeying His commands. And He has commanded you to love your neighbour. Therefore, to hate your neighbour is also to hate God, in whose image he/she was created, and Who commands you to love him/her. In the words of Jerry Bridges: “We cannot love God without loving one another. To recognize that there is someone I do not love is to say to God, ‘I do not love you enough to love that person.’ This is not to deny the reality of spiritual struggle in loving a particular person, because it often exists. I am referring to the attitude of not even wanting to love the person, of being content to allow a lack of love for someone who resides in my heart unchecked and unchallenged.” Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to challenge our loveless hearts. Those who truly have faith in Christ have been born of God and have the Holy Spirit reproducing the character of Christ from within so that they more and more love others from the heart in word and deed. As we’ve seen previously, this was promised long ago, that God would give us His Spirit to cause us to walk in His ways and be careful to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Suggestions for prayer Is there someone you struggle to love? Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love that person. Remember the sacrificial love of Christ for you, while you were a sinner and deserved God’s wrath (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:6-8). There is no greater love! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 13 – Let us draw near in full assurance of faith

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 Based on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His continued work as our Great High Priest, we are exhorted to draw near to God. How should we draw near to God in Christ? “Let us draw near with a true heart.” We are to approach God in worship with sincerity and with right affections for God. Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t feel like going to church. But let us nevertheless draw near to God with a true heart, even admitting to God that our hearts aren’t where they should be, and asking Him to help us worship Him with a true heart. Often if we are faithful to attend, even when we don’t feel like it, God changes our heart in the process. And “Let us draw near…in full assurance of faith.” Some of you may struggle with the assurance of God’s promises which prevents you from going to worship or from joy and confidence in worship. Let me assure you as a Minister of God’s Word, that if you trust in Christ alone for your salvation, then God forgives you, loves you, and welcomes you in His presence in worship. And so, worship God in the full assurance of faith because of Christ’s once for all sacrifice on the cross and because He ever lives to make intercession for you at God’s right hand. In Christ, we draw near to God, “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would assure you and other worshippers of the promises of God in Christ so that all would draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 31 – Trust the psalms of God

I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. – Psalm 52:8B Scripture reading: Psalm 52 We started with Psalm 1 and the comparison between the good and the wicked man. We sang from Psalm 50, the words of God Who calls us to right worship and living. He promises curses upon the wicked and blessings for the good man. In Psalm 51, we repented because of the renewal that the creation of a new heart and pure spirit brings. Then we sang from Psalm 52, “Do not take God’s mercy for granted; see the foolishness and destruction of the wicked. Trust in God.” Some of the verses of these Psalms make us cringe just a bit. Let us trust that these songs are given by God, Whose love is steadfast. We are coming out of darkness into light. He is bringing us from the destruction of wickedness and into the blessings of obedience that we may live and prosper like a tree planted beside the living waters—like a green olive tree. These songs sing about our God, Who is God with us and in us. But we also sing to minister to one another, always with thanksgiving in our hearts. Singing the Psalms, we love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Let us never forget God’s love to us in the One Who is the olive tree, yet hung on a tree that we may know the love of God. Sing of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the LORD. Trust in the steadfast love of God forever. Suggestions for prayer Pray for joy to sing of all the Psalms of God, trusting His inspired words as being the excellent, right and true things that we and the whole world need to hear. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 30 – Worship of the fruitful tree

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. – Psalm 52:8-9 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:8-9 We have dealt with some heavy stuff this past week. But today we can go to Church and be encouraged. The world is a messy and sad place to live in. Then God says, “Come to Church. Remember that I warned you. Come by faith, repenting, believing and trusting, worship Me.” We come together to confess our sins and sing praises to God, thanking Him that we are like the green olive tree standing in the house of God. Did you know that a well-tended olive tree can last for hundreds of years? It, in David's day and the Middle East today, is known for its usefulness and loveliness. It can be used as an ornamental tree and for its fruit—what a great picture of the faithful man. Remember Psalm 1? "The good man is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Are you baptized? Romans 6 teaches us that if we are baptized into Christ's death, we are raised in His new life. He is that perfect olive tree and in His goodness we become that tree by faith. Let us, in Christ, produce the fruits of worship. Come to the Father; He calls you by the elders to honour and adore Him. He has made us, and we are His. Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving and flourish like the olive tree. Suggestions for prayer Pray for hearts of love and thanksgiving and blessings for the Church as she gathers together to worship God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 29 – Sing the truth in love

See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction! – Psalm 52:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:6-7 Tomorrow we are going to church. We know that we ought to sing verses like Psalm 52:6,7. They are in line with Psalm 2, where the Anointed laughs in derision at the intent of the wicked. With Christ, we laugh at the foolishness. God reminds us of our need to repent using our song of warning. That ought to be part of worship. If we love God, we must sing the truth, in love, to warn of the darkness. As a social worker, I remember coming into the homes of addicts. The first thing that hits you is the stink and then the poverty. In one home, a toddler was walking around. It was winter, and there was snow in the living room while she wandered about in her sagging diaper looking for some comfort. Yet her guardians took pleasure in their own destruction because they were addicts. What is supposed to be euphoric turns into the nightmare of desperation. But sin is like that. Hardly aware of it, we can put our trust in our idols. When God comes and brings punishment, one of two things will happen: we are enlightened and turn to Him, or we dig in our heels and take refuge in our destruction. Let us listen to God today. Let us understand that we sing to warn one another and the lost. Sin is ugly and so are the results. Run to Christ! Suggestions for prayer Pray for blessings for our worship and the courage for our pastor to speak the truth in love, to each other and to the lost. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 28 – Singing about the destruction of the wicked

But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living – Psalm 52:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:5 Here is a sensitive issue for the church. In the Book of Romans (12:19-21), we read, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Is it loving for us to sing about the destruction of the wicked? Jesus never shied away from warning the wicked of His day. The Church in Revelation 19 sings with joy about the destruction of the great harlot—a symbol of the wicked. Remember that David sings to God about the destruction of the man who persecuted the righteous priests of God. The wicked boast of the Christians they kill, even today. What would you think of a God who did not shield His chosen? What would you think of a Father who did not protect His children? The love of God is steadfast, and He will repay the wicked. God will send Jesus, and the Risen One will come to judge the living and the dead. If we do not believe this, or sing about it, likely we will not be all that engaged in reaching out to the lost. But, being sure of the end of the wicked, let us call them out of the darkness and into life. Let us sin no more! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the salvation of the wicked, the protection of the saints, a heart for pure living and the lost. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 15 – Singing of the covenant blessings and curses

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” – Psalm 50:23 Scripture reading: Psalm 50 We come to the end of our meditations on Psalm 50. This Psalm is an application of Psalm 1, that gateway to the covenant. In our singing, we bring the case to a close for God as the people of God. The faithful sing to the congregation made up of the faithful and unfaithful. We must listen so we can sing and we must sing that God will be heard. Tomorrow we will gather for worship. Too often today, worship is only about praise, joy and our personal happiness. I think we can agree that prayer ought to have elements of joy and appreciation. But is there a place in worship for warning, calling and pleading? In Psalm 50, the words of judgment are clear. The righteous will be blessed and delivered. We find hope. But not so the wicked man. His end is horrible. Who can deliver us from hell once our lives are over without repentance? Then it is too late. But while we have life and breath, let us love our neighbor as ourselves and call each other to the grace and mercy of God. Let us call them to thankful living. Let us call them to sing the songs of praise with us. But let us also worship God in a way that sounds the warnings against sin and calls us to repentance. Let us sound the good news and the warnings of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will use our churches, worship and songs tomorrow to bring people to devote their lives to God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 14 – Singing of the covenant faithfulness of the Lord

Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver. – Psalm 50:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:22-23 How do these last verses make you feel? We know that God is speaking through the songs of the Church. We like it when the congregation speaks the blessings of the covenant to the faithful people of God. Why do we need to talk about the curses and judgment of God? We are the New Testament Church. We live by grace and not by law. Perhaps it is best to read these Psalms and possibly meditate on them – but should we sing this in our worship? It is so judgmental. Doesn’t this psalm drive people away? Perhaps it is better to sing praise and worship songs about God and His love, leaving these verses alone. Yes, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We do that from our love for God. We know that glory waits for the faithful. That glory goes far beyond the benefits for this life into eternity. We want that for our brothers and sisters in the Church. Psalm 50 forces us to recognize that the key to the kingdom of church discipline starts with us. When we sing this song together before God, we hope that we will turn from our wicked ways. We hope others will too. Psalm 50 is an expression of singing the warning in love. We need to have faith that God will glorify Himself through our faithful singing and that our songs will encourage thankful and obedient worship. For Psalm 50 testifies: This is our God! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the purity of the Church and our lives and for courage to call the wicked to repentance. Pray for the LORD to change hearts and minds. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 13 – Singing to love God and our neighbor

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. – Psalm 50:21 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:18-21 Remember those words from Psalm 1 about the wicked? “The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” The LORD is consistent and so are the songs we sing as the people of God. Praise God for His truth. The wicked have lost their love for God, as revealed in the way they live with their neighbors. Their lives are characterized by lust, hate and darkness. We must be willing to make sure that the wicked know there is no place for the fruits of evil. The wicked cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The LORD’s love is pure, and that means He hates evil and removes the wicked from His sight. That is why He punished Christ for our sins. The LORD, through the Church, identifies the corrupt for who they are. But why are we singing about this? First, that God might be praised and we might sing and proclaim His truth and righteousness. But we also do it because we love our neighbor and want them to repent and believe. Finally, we do it to keep one another on the straight and narrow path that leads to glory. Yes, we do that to minister to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as we have been commanded to do. Singing is part of our witness to the Church and the world! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the purity of the Church and our lives and for courage to call the wicked to repentance and for the LORD to change hearts and minds. Ask the Lord to use our churches and songs to bring people to devote their lives to God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 12 – Singing about the judgement of God

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?” – Psalm 50:16 Scripture reading: Psalm 50:16-17 The conversation between the LORD and his subjects continues through the choir of the congregation. The King has called the people of God to new obedience, but looking into the hearts of the people, He calls out the wicked. Now, we must be clear that this call to repentance is for the covenant breaker. The wicked are the circumcised rebellious children of God who simply will not listen and obey. Where do we find ourselves? On the one hand, we confess the importance of reaching out to those who are wandering and living in sin. We perhaps are dealing with that wandering baptized child of God who will not repent. Our elders and pastor deal with these wayward children in an intense way. But we also need to look into our souls and ask ourselves about our walk with God. Are you handling difficulty and sorrow well? Are we able to accept God’s way without resistance? God has come to us in grace and peace in Christ. Let us hear the words of the LORD today and not cast them away. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart for the wandering and lost that God will turn their hearts. Pray for the pastors and elders of the church in their care for the flock. Ask for a pure and thankful acceptance of God’s way. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 30 – Abundant life

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.” – Amos 9:13 Scripture reading: Amos 9:13-15; Ephesians 1:3-14 The final words of Amos’s ministry set forth a glorious picture of the blessings of Christ’s rule and government. Drawing from farming imagery, Amos gives us a glimpse of a better day. The seed-planter overtaking the harvester, the hills flowing with wine – these are descriptions of abundance. The return of captives means true liberty. Living in the cities they build and drinking wine from the vineyards they plant points to the end of futility. No longer being pulled up from the land refers to permanence. This is a glimpse of life with God, the life that was ruined by sin in the Garden, and the life for which we long: abundance, liberty, permanence. Are these blessings spiritual or physical? The answer is “Yes!” The kingdom of God embraces all of creation. Rather than distinguish between spiritual and physical, we can distinguish between the blessings of this present age and the blessings of the age to come. In Christ, we have abundant life. He is the living water and the bread of life. He satisfies our thirsty and hungry souls. In Christ, we already possess the liberty of being adopted children of God. We are no longer slaves to the dominion of sin. In Christ, we have a living hope in the midst of the futility of death. His resurrection is the guarantee that our labor is not in vain. In Christ, we have security in life and death. Our heavenly inheritance is reserved for us who are kept by the power of God. Seek Him and you will truly live! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit to show you the riches that is yours in Christ Jesus. Pray for the Spirit to feed your soul with Living Water and the Bread of Life. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 29 – God’s outreach

“That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the LORD who does this thing. – Amos 9:12 Scripture reading: Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:6-21 Amos prophecies that the kingdom of David will be restored so “that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name.” Beyond the dark days of Israel’s apostasy and Judah’s fall, a light shone in the darkness – the Light of the world. He rules His kingdom from the heavenly Jerusalem and has commissioned His church to be His witness in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The boundaries of the kingdom of David’s Son stretch across the whole world and embrace people from all nations. Do you see how the end of Amos brings us back to the beginning? Edom was one of those unbelieving nations against whom Amos prophesied judgment. And yet even for them, hope remains along with all the other Gentile nations. The history of God’s covenant people Israel is one of stiff-necked rebellion. In spite of their faithlessness, God remained faithful to His promise to Abraham to bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. Our God is truly a missionary God. The apostles in Acts 15 saw clearly that Amos 9:12 was being fulfilled in their midst as the Gentiles began to receive the Holy Spirit. We also are living in “that day” prophesied by Amos as the gospel continues to conquer sinners from all nations. As disciples of Christ, we ourselves are living testimonies to Amos 9:12. We are raised with Christ from the ruins. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev.7:10). Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for God’s missionary heart, for seeking you out in love, and for giving you the salvation that is His alone to give. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 28 – Raise up the ruins

On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old. – Amos 9:11 Scripture reading: Amos 9:11-12; John 4:19-26 God’s focus shifts to the southern kingdom of Judah. After Israel was destroyed, Judah alone was left. Then in 586 BC, Judah also was brought to ruin. But unlike the tribes of Israel, Judah was restored to the Promised Land beginning in 536 BC. Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt and the law restored. Faithful leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah led the Jews in repentance. Thus, God preserved Judah for the coming of Christ. Ultimately, David’s “tabernacle” or royal house was raised up in Jesus Christ. The Lord God gave Him the throne of His father David (Lk.1:32). He is the true and eternal King (Phil.2:9-11). He is the true Temple (John 2:19-22). He did what no other king could or would do: He was held responsible for our sin! He was laid low in the ruins of death in payment for our sin and He was raised up from the ruins for our restoration. The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus offered living water was a descendant of the mixed race and mixed religion that populated northern Israel after its demise. Salvation came to a Samaritan woman that day! Jesus told her that a day was coming and has now come that true worshipers would not come to Mt. Gerizim or to Mt. Jerusalem to worship the Lord. True worshipers worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. The King is risen! We enter the kingdom of God not by going to Jerusalem but by believing in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Bless the Lord Jesus for His exalted Lordship over all. Thank Him for stooping to the manger and the cross. Pray for the increase and consummation of His kingdom. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 27 – A remnant spared

“Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the LORD. – Amos 9:8b Scripture reading: Amos 9:8-10 As the curtain closes on Amos’s prophecy to Israel, there is a shaft of light in the darkness: there will be a remnant from Israel that will be saved. God will destroy the sinful kingdom from the face of the earth, but He will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob. By using the name of Israel’s covenant ancestor, Jacob, God is directing our attention to His promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God will destroy the kingdom of Israel in keeping with His covenant curses; He will be faithful also in keeping His covenant promise by preserving a remnant from the 10 northern tribes. Consider two examples of how this is witnessed in redemptive history. The first example happened in 715 BC, just a few years after the kingdom of Israel was removed by Assyria. King Hezekiah restored the Passover and sent runners to the remaining people of the land of Israel with an invitation to worship with them. Many mocked the invitation, but some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came (2 Chron.30:11). The second example is the prophetess Anna, from the tribe of Asher, who welcomed the Lord Jesus with great joy when He was brought to the temple as an infant (Lk.2:36-38). With the Lord, “not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground” (vs.9). Even in the midst of catastrophic destruction, not one of Jesus’ sheep shall be snatched from His hand. And you are His sheep if you hear His voice and follow Him (Jn.10:27-28). Suggestions for prayer Bless God for His unfailing mercy and steadfast love. Pray for ears to hear His voice and a renewed will to follow. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 14 – Seek the Lord

The virgin of Israel has fallen; she will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; there is no one to raise her up. – Amos 5:2 Scripture reading: Amos 5:1-9 What if you could watch your own funeral while you were still living? It would help to put life into perspective, wouldn’t it? Sometimes it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart (Eccl.7:2). That’s what Amos is doing in this passage. In vs.3 he prophesies her coming death at the hand of an invading nation. But in vs.2 he sings a funeral lament for Israel while she’s still alive. Israel feels alive, like a maiden full of youth (vs.2), but in reality she’s at death’s door. She has the appearance of being alive, but spiritually she is terminally ill. Amos gives her a glimpse of her own funeral so that she will be awakened to her desperate situation and repent. God continues to hold out HIs hands to the rebellious nation: “Seek Me and live”. If they will turn away from idol worship at Bethel and serve the living God who made the Pleiades and Orion, they will be saved. Amos shows us the way of repentance. An essential part of biblical repentance is to seek the Lord. That means that we turn away from all the dead-end roads of sin and idols and entrust our lives to Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He gives life. He cleanses and renews. Biblical repentance is not primarily feelings or methods or tears: it is faith in Jesus for salvation from sin. Suggestions for prayer Confess your sinfulness to the Lord and acknowledge that only Christ can cleanse and save you from your sin. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 13 – Warning signs

“Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. – Amos 4:6b Scripture reading: Amos 4:6-13 All the warning signs were there, but they ignored them to their peril. God sent famine (“cleanness of teeth”) on their land (vs.6). He shut up the heavens and caused drought (vs.7,8). He sent disease, mold, and locusts to destroy their crops (vs.9). He sent plagues and invaders (vs.10). There were even times when Israel was on the brink of defeat (vs.11). But they refused to take the message to heart. What is that message? It is that God holds all things in His hand and we are not in control of the circumstances of life. Therefore, when disasters and hardships come into our lives we should never think of them as purely the result of natural cause. God uses secondary causes to carry out His purposes, but ultimately all things – both pleasant and painful – come to us from His fatherly hand. It is “He who forms mountains, and creates the wind”. Moreover, Israel should be asking the question: what is the Lord telling us? Had they turned to His Word they would have recognized the covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28 being visited on them. These were divine messages from their Saviour, trumpet calls to repentance, warning signs pointing to the cliff of judgment to which they were hurtling. When the Lord sends disasters upon this world, it is not for us to say what exactly God is up to and why He sent the disaster where He sent it. But there is one question that we should ask ourselves: am I ready to meet God on that Day? Suggestions for prayer Pray for spiritual sensitivity to God’s trumpet calls of repentance. Pray for the Lord to use His providences to awaken unbelieving loved ones and neighbors to their need for Christ. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 12 – Empty religion

Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days. – Amos 4:4 Scripture reading: Amos 4:1-5 One man puts a large donation into the offering plate to assuage the guilt of his deceitful business dealings. Another sits through worship services he despises in order to keep the family happy. And someone else raves about how much she likes worship at the new church in town because it feels so amazing. We could come up with a thousand examples of the same root problem that Amos confronts: attending worship for selfish reasons rather than going to meet God. “Cows of Bashan” is not a reference to four-legged beasts with horns, but to the wealthy women of Samaria. Amos is not very flattering, but he is simply telling these women what their husbands didn’t have the courage to say: that they are pampered and cruel. As long as they were being served, they were content – even if it meant crushing the poor. Their day will come. Amos proceeds to issue a sarcastic call to worship: “Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression”. Go on, says the LORD through Amos, bring your sacrifices and tithes, your praise and worship, for I know you love it. Israel still observed many of the biblical worship ceremonies. But they did that while they crushed the needy during the rest of the week. They loved religious acts and rituals of worship, but they didn’t love the God whom they professed to worship. Worship is not a series of favors that we do for God to get Him on our side. Worship is a response of thanksgiving to the One who has purchased us with His blood. Suggestions for prayer Pray for deliverance from all man-centered, self-focused worship to wholehearted thankfulness and awe towards God. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 11 – Spiritual poverty

I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end,” says the LORD. – Amos 3:15 Scripture reading: Amos 3:9-15 Amos addresses the wealthy in Israel: one man has a winter house in the city and a summer cottage on the sea; another man has an extravagant house of ivory, and still, another has a house that’s far bigger than he’ll ever need. Israel’s situation sounds similar to North America. We should listen very carefully to what God is saying through Amos: all those nice houses filled with beautiful stuff will be destroyed one day. Is God against being wealthy and enjoying nice things? No, God is the one who gives power to get wealth (Deut.8:18) and who blesses man with good things for his enjoyment (Ps.104:14,15). The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim.6:10), not the money itself. We are called to a joyful and God-pleasing use of His gifts by enjoying them with thanksgiving (1 Tim.4:4) and sharing generously with the needy (Eph.4:28). The wealthy in Samaria made their money on the backs of the poor and filled their houses with the proceeds of injustice (vs.9,10): God will see to it that their wealth is all taken away (vs.11). Like the rich fool of Jesus’ parable, they placed their security in their possessions and hoarded them: God will destroy it (vs.15). Prosperity has a way of lulling us into a sense of false security and blinding us to our spiritual poverty. There is only one currency that will count when we stand in the judgment: the infinite value of Jesus’ righteousness. It is a gift, freely given through faith. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Father for all His good gifts. Pray for the Spirit to lead you away from trust in possessions to finding lasting security in the righteousness of Christ. Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Sunday, June 28 – Living in the joy of God’s forgiveness

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13  Scripture reading: Psalm 32 and 1 John 1:5-2:2 One of the great blessings God’s people have in Sunday worship is to hear the good news of the forgiveness of sins in Christ! How comforting is that assurance of pardon after hearing God’s Law and being reminded of our daily sins? For again, we see the infinite love of God for us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross! Yet, it’s not easy to confess our sin, for sin comes with guilt, and with that, shame! Thus, instead of confessing our sin, at times we try to hide it, ignore it, or justify it to quiet our guilty conscience. David was a man whose unconfessed sin affected his body and soul! (Ps.32:3-5). For the more he sought to “cover” his sin before God, the more He laid His hand upon him until it led to his confession! (v.5). And what blessing came to David’s life with that confession! The apostle John also reminds us of our need to confess our sin, but also of God’s rich grace! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v.9). Do we daily come to God confessing our sins? Do we come humbly pleading the blood of Christ? And further, do we seek to “forsake” our sinful ways as forgiven people? May our worship today bring us to our knees over our sin, but also cause us to praise God for His rich forgiveness in Christ! Suggestions for prayer If you are living with unconfessed sin, humbly confess your sin, forsake it and ask the Lord to help you to grow strong in your faith that you may daily live a holy and godly life for His praise! 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

June 27 – The God who drives away all fear

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” – Proverbs 29:25 Scripture reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 As Christians, “fear” can fill our hearts as we look at the fallen world around us! We live in a world where Christian persecution is on the rise, not only in foreign lands, but also in our own cities, schools and workplaces. Thus, “fear,” especially, the “fear of man” is a real and present danger for God’s people! When we look at Elijah, we can see just how greatly the “fear of man” can affect one’s life and work! (v.3). Elijah was so overwhelmed at Jezebel’s threats that he wanted to die (v.4). Yes, such “fear” is a “snare”; it’s a trap! Something that constricts around you like a python with its prey! But for the Christian, the “fear of God” is to abide in his heart and not the “fear of man.” When we see God for Who He is, it drives out fear and instills in us new courage. This happened for Elijah when God spoke to him in the still small voice! (v.12). God humbled him and charged him to take up his work boldly and without fear! Do you live with such fear? Well, as one who “trusts” in God, you are “safe”, that is, lifted above the swirl of enemies about you! You’re set on the Rock, Who is Christ and in Him you’ll never be shaken! Therefore, go forth boldly in the fear of the Lord for that will drive out the “fear of man” from your heart! Suggestions for prayer Confess your fears to God and ask Him to fill you with courage and boldness. Read God’s Word daily, focusing on His power, attributes and promises for that will feed your fear for God and help to fight against your fear of man. 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

June 26 – Keep fighting the good fight of the faith

“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.” – Proverbs 28:4  Scripture reading: Psalm 10, Ephesians 5:1-21, and Jude 3 We’ve seen in the last years a rapid moral decline in our society and politics. And it’s not surprising seeing that God’s Law, His 10 commandments, are no longer taught or obeyed. With that, the persecution of the church has increased and the good news of salvation in Christ is more offensive than ever! Thus, with this increased rejection of God’s Word, we see increased “praise” given to those who promote what is radical, offensive, and that which is contrary to His revealed will to us. But what are we to do? Should we ignore it, hoping it will go away? No! Our text says, “...but such as keep the law contend with them”! That is, we’re to take a stand for God’s truth as those who love the truth. We’re to address our leaders about these issues, and pray for them that they might see the truth of God! Paul says in Ephesians 5:11, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Jude also says, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (v.3). This is what we’re called to do as members of Christ’s kingdom! For though the wicked may be shameless in their defiance of God, as Psalm 10 says, it also declares, “The LORD is King forever and ever”! (v.16). This truth should encourage us to continue to fight the good fight, knowing that Christ will continue strengthening us in this great calling! Suggestions for prayer Continue to pray for your leaders and your nation. Pray that they may honour God with just laws and fairness. Pray for the conversion of those who reject God’s law and promote wickedness that they might come to saving faith in Christ. 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

June 25 – Living by faith one day at a time

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. “ - Proverbs 27:1 Scripture reading: James 4:13-17 and Matthew 6:34 Time seems to fly by fast! Just look at your children; they go from diapers to walking, and then before you know it you’re seeing them off to college! Yes, time flies by, but it goes as God has ordained it! And our proverb rightly reminds us that God is in control of time. But often we forget that! We look at the calendar and say, “I will do this today, or work there tomorrow, or visit that person next month”, but how often do we pray, “Lord, your will be done”? Or how often do we ask, “Lord, if this is your will, so let it be?” James understood the sinful tendency of our hearts and so he reminds us that even in our planning, we have to consider the Lord’s will! Do we “boast” about tomorrow? Do we confidently decree our path for tomorrow when it comes to work, school, or church life? Or do we humbly seek the Lord’s will in prayer? This we must do! For as our text says, “You do not know what a day may bring forth”! It’s out of our hands and we need to be spiritually ready for the unknown events to come. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” This is wise advice! For when we seek the Lord’s will for today, it helps us to keep from anxiety about tomorrow! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s will as you plan and prepare for the future, and trust that He will provide for all your needs! 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....