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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....

Daily devotional

June 24 – Fainting in the day of adversity 

“If you faint on the day of adversity, your strength is small.” – Proverbs 24:10 Scripture reading: Mark 4:35-41 and Philippians 4:10-13 As we know, tests and trials are part of the Christian life! Living in a fallen world, contending with contrary world-views and battling our own sinful natures are a daily challenge! But the key for God’s people is not to look to themselves, or to others, or to sports or leisure to escape life’s trying times, but to look to Christ! To “faint” means to be overcome by the circumstances surrounding you. In other words, your faith gives out! You’re not actively trusting in God, but only doing so in words. This was the reality that faced the disciples on the Sea of Galilee! They took their eyes off of Jesus Who was resting in the boat and fixed them on the wind and the waves. This led to their frantic question, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v.38). How often have such words been on our lips in the midst of adversity? Yes, our strength is small and so we need to be reminded daily of our need for Christ! For as He powerfully reassured His disciples of His loving care by stilling the wind and waves, so does He bring peace to our lives when we call upon Him in our weakness! The apostle Paul learned the secret of being content in any situation, he says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”! May this be a truth we grow to know more and more in our lives! Suggestions for prayer Ask Christ to help you fix your eyes on Him every day. Memorize Philippians 4:13 and call it to mind when you find your strength “small” in the day of adversity for Christ gives His strength to all who call on Him in their time of need! 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 23 – Keeping the proper focus on life

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:17-18  Scripture reading: Psalm 73 Now “envy” can be a terrible influence on our lives as we see the status and wealth of those around us. Envy can fill our hearts when someone is promoted ahead of us at work, or when we see our neighbour’s business doing well, or when we see our friend always getting better grades than we do. Psalm 73 is a powerful example of how “envy” can affect our hearts before God! Asaph saw the wicked around him and how blessed their lives seemed to be even though they mocked God (vv.9-11). And yet, we’re not to be filled with “envy” over the wicked and their earthly blessings. Instead, we’re to be “zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day.” That is, we’re to live daily with reverent awe and wonder for our holy God. And how can we not, when we daily ponder the blessings He’s lavished upon us in Christ? This view of God gives us a much-needed perspective, as it did for Asaph. He fell into the trap we so often do when it comes to “envy.” But then, when he entered God’s sanctuary all was made plain! (v.17). For there is a “hereafter,” a future for mankind where everyone will have to stand before God and give an account of their lives! (2 Corinthians 5:10). The wicked have no hope, but for the righteous our hope “will not be cut off,” for it’s rooted in the victorious Christ Who reigns in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a growing “fear of the LORD” and that you would die to sinful envy. Ask the Lord to help you focus on the blessings you have in Christ and that He would create in you a thankful heart and a growing contentment in Him. 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 22 – The Folly of laboring to get worldly wealth

“Do not overwork to be rich...for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” – Proverbs 23:4-5  Scripture reading: Luke 12:13-21 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10 One of the tragedies of life is our tendency to fix our hearts on earthly things, rather than on heavenly things. Jesus warns us of that in Luke 12:15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” For many, life is what you make of it, or better, what you can buy for yourself! But this mentality as Paul shows us in 1 Timothy 6 is foolish! He says in v.9, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts....” Yes, a sinful desire for wealth is a terrible snare that many get themselves into, even God’s own people! We work, toil and sweat. We work overtime, save our money and invest our savings, all of which are not sinful things, but when we’re trusting in them for our security or happiness, then we’re in trouble! Earthly wealth is elusive and deceptive. As our text says, your wealth can sprout wings and take off, leaving you empty handed and unsatisfied (v.5). Therefore, we need to be wise and not engage in such dangerous behaviour. In Christ, we have all we’ll ever need. Yes, the key to a blessed life is to be “rich toward God”, as Jesus says in Luke 12:21. For when our hearts are fixed on the heavenly treasure found in Him, we never have to fear that it will sprout wings and fly away! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you a proper view of your wealth, work, and priorities, not working only for things that will fade away, but trusting that God will meet all your needs. Pray that God would give you that heavenward focus. 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, June 21 - Laying down a lasting foundation

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6  Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Sunday worship is one of the great training grounds for the faith of our children! Here the gospel is proclaimed faithfully, our little ones learn to sing the songs of Zion and they learn to pray to their heavenly Father. What a blessing! But worship is only one component in the instruction of our covenant children. Another is found in the Christian home as parents instruct their children in the vital truths of Scripture. Now, this is not something we’re to take lightly! Rather, we’re to actively “train up” our children in the truth of God’s Word, while at the same time trusting that God will be faithful to His promises. For in Deuteronomy 6:1-9, we see the great importance of this task, but also the great confidence we can have as parents! God will use His Word to the good of our children! We see a powerful example of that in Timothy who learned from “childhood” the Holy Scriptures “which are able to make you wise for salvation…” (2 Timothy 3:15). Do we teach with that kind of trust in God? Do we make time for meaningful devotions? Do we impress upon our children the importance of faithful Sunday worship? As v.6 says, if we properly train our children, then even when they’re old they will not depart from it. Yes, they may have times of rebellion or uncertainty about their faith, but God will bring them back to that path of daily trust and dependence upon Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would bless your children and young people in worship, strengthen their faith and deepen their understanding. Pray for God’s strength to faithfully instruct your children so that you may lay a lasting foundation for their future! 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 20 – The great value of a good name

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” – Proverbs 22:1  Scripture reading: Psalm 112 Is having a “good name” a priority in your life? Unfortunately, many today don’t see the need for it. They do what they want without any concern for their name. They think, “As long as I feel good, who cares about what people think of me?” But is that the kind of attitude we’re to have as Christians? What then is a “good name”? Well, to have a “good name” means to be a person of integrity, one who is trustworthy, truthful and loyal. It means to be gracious, respectful and willing to put your neighbour’s interests above your own (Philippians 2:1-4). This is the fruit of Christ’s ongoing work in our lives! (Philippians 1:6). We are also to have a desire for a “good name”! We need to pray to God about it and strive to live our lives in a godly and consistent way. We’re not to be those who say one thing and then do another. We’re to walk with integrity, for this brings about the “loving favour” of men, which is a testimony to how our lives make an impact on them. Therefore, we’re to desire a “good name” more than “great riches”! By our words and deeds, we point people to Christ and it opens up doors for us to share the gospel! Psalm 112:6 reminds us that the righteous life leaves a lasting memory on those around us! Is this true of you? May Christ so work in us to bring about this blessed result! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a “good name” among men that they might see Christ in you! Pray that the “loving favour” of others would open doors for you to share the good news of Christ by your words, deeds and way of life. 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 19 – Each stage of life has its own glory

“The glory of young men is their strength; the splendor of old men is their gray head.” – Proverbs 20:29 Scripture reading: Psalm 92:12-15, Proverbs 16:31, and Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 How do you view your life? Some see growing older as a miserable thing. They look back upon their youth and mourn the loss of their strength and vitality. They look at their grey hair, or failing eyesight, or lack of mobility and they’re filled with regret. But is that how we should view the passing of our years? No! In fact, as v.29 teaches us, each stage of life, whether youth or old age, has its own glory! The strength and activity of our younger years are blessings from God. But it’s also a blessing to grow older! Thus, for the Christian, having grey hair is a sign of God’s blessing! Proverbs 16:31 says, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.” You see, having silver hair is a sign of honour for the Christian of maturing years. It's a sign of wisdom and that you’re to be shown respect! (Leviticus 19:32). How are you spending your younger years? Are you using your youth for the good of God’s kingdom and to glorify your Creator? (Ecclesiastes 12:1). And if you are older, do you see it as a blessing and that you can still be useful in God’s kingdom? (Psalm 92:12-15). Never regret growing older. See it as a change from one stage of glory to the next. Be diligent in the things of God while you’re young so that you might have wisdom to share when you’re older. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for His blessings at the stage of life you’re at now, whether old or young. Ask the Lord to help you be always useful in His kingdom, serving Him wholeheartedly as a younger member of the church or as one of many years. 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 18 – Get up you sluggard

“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” – Proverbs 20:13  Scripture reading: Proverbs 6:6-11, Psalm 127:1-2, and Colossians 3:22-25 When I was in Bible College there were students who liked to sleep too much, even at the expense of attending classes! Thus, often you’d hear the cry, “Get up you sluggard!” Such a statement was meant to be funny, but it was also meant to remind the lazy student that you can’t sleep when there are important things to do. Our proverb reminds us of that as well. For “sleep” is a gift of God to man because he was created to work in order to grow his food. We’re reminded in Psalm 127 that the LORD gives “sleep” to the trusting laborer. Sleep is a good thing, but it’s not to be abused. Today many don’t understand the purpose of work and prefer to be lazy and depend on others to provide. However, we need to keep in mind that work is meant to be for God’s glory. Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men…for you serve the Lord Christ.” Do we have that mindset as we get up for school, or go to the office, or take care of the children at home? Our proverb reminds us in v.13b that, we’re to “open” our eyes, that is, we’re to be alert when it comes to our labors! For as God’s Word promises, when we labor for the Lord, we can be assured that He will give us our daily bread and provide for all our needs. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you the proper perspective on your work. Pray for alertness and energy if you love to sleep at the expense of school or work. In all your labour, seek to honour and please God, for He will bless your efforts! 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 17 – Listening today brings wisdom for the future

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” – Proverbs 19:20  Scripture reading: Psalm 78:1-8 and Ephesians 6:1-4 The instruction of covenant children is a vital thing in the life of the church. Passing on to each generation the truth of God’s Word and the salvation that comes in Christ is imperative! Often in the proverbs, we see instruction given to “sons” (Proverbs 1-7), stressing for us our covenantal obligations and also God’s demands on faithful parenting. Yet, as is clear from v.20, the focus is on the hearer, that the child, young person, or church member in the pew would “listen” intently to God’s counsel and humbly “receive” His instruction. That’s the idea here. In fact, we’re commanded to listen and to receive. It’s not an option! For this is how we grow, this is how we mature in our faith and gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). It’s also vital that we learn from the past so that we won’t walk in the sinful ways of those who have gone before us! (Psalm78). Yes, it’s important that we take godly counsel and instruction seriously, for with it comes blessing! (Ephesians 6:2-3). Through it we gain wisdom and grow in discernment, and that is a blessing for us in our “latter days”, when we become older and we’re called to live out our faith in many challenging situations, especially when we’re persecuted! Thus, if we humble our hearts, heed instruction and pray for God’s direction, He will bless us with wisdom for today, for tomorrow and for whatever challenges may come! Suggestions for prayer Pray for strength as you instruct your children, students or employees. Ask God for a humble heart to receive godly counsel and instruction. Pray for growing wisdom and discernment for your life of faith in the world. 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 16 – Godly discipline is not to be avoided

“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.” – Proverbs 19:18  Scripture reading: Proverbs 29:15-17, and Hebrews 12:3-11 It’s clear from Scripture that corporal punishment, or physical discipline for sin when it comes to our children, is a godly practice. For as we know, our children are born in sin and if they’re left to follow their own way, it will lead to their destruction. Thus, parental discipline is meant to bring correction to the rebellious heart, as Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” In godly discipline we have “hope” that God will use it, not only to bring about outward obedience, but also to draw our children closer to Him as they see such obedience as part of their life of faith! “Correct your son, and he will give you rest. Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17) Now there are many who reject the biblical teaching of discipline and call it harmful and cruel. But when discipline is done lovingly, explaining why one’s behavior is sinful, and showing how God wants them to live, it’s a blessing! Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Thus, to let children go their own way leads to their shame and “destruction”, but through godly discipline, correction comes to rebellious hearts and turns them to God. This is God’s gracious promise to us as parents. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s strength to consistently discipline your children. It is not easy. But when we see the fruit God brings from it in their lives we realize the great blessing it brings for today and for their future! 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 15 – A good lesson about restraint and mercy

“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” – Proverbs 19:11 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:31-5:1, Colossians 3:5-10, and James 1:19-20 For many, lashing out and yelling is the way to deal with those who wrong or hurt them. But is that how it should be for Christians? We’re told in Colossians 3:5-10 that we’re to die to the ways of the sinful nature rather than encourage them. Yet for the Christian, as time goes by God grants wisdom, which when applied leads to “discretion,” the ability to discern a situation and act appropriately, that is, in a Christ-like manner. For as James rightly reminds us in James 1:20, “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Do you exercise self-control when you’re provoked and want to retaliate? Well, as our text says it’s to our “glory” to overlook a transgression. In other words, it’s honorable and praiseworthy to show grace and forgiveness to those who hurt us. And it is because this is the way God has dealt with our transgressions! Paul says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31). Is this the way we live with our fellow believers and with those who don’t know the Lord? Do we shine the light of Christ’s mercy upon them in our response, or do we seek revenge? Paul reminds us in Romans 12:17-21 that instead of revenge we’re to confront people with kind deeds. For such compassion may open the door for the gospel to come to many who are hurting and far from God! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would grant you restraint when others wrong you. Ask Him to fill you with mercy for others, leading to forgiveness. Pray that God might open doors for the gospel to work powerfully in those who are without 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

Sunday, June 14 – The greatest of all friendships

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 Scripture reading: Proverbs 13:20, John 15:9-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:33 As we gather for worship today, in whatever fashion we are able to, we bask in the glory of knowing that Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, is our Lord and Saviour! He has redeemed us with His blood and purchased us for Himself, and we are eternally His! (John 10:28-30). Jesus is our Lord, but He’s also the greatest friend the Christian has! He is the fulfillment of Proverbs 18:24b, “...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”! But how often do we use Jesus as the barometer for gauging the friends we make? Proverbs 18:24a says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly,” and this is very true! But this verse could also be rendered, “A man who has friends may come to ruin.” The idea being that not all friends are proper friends, for some can have bad influences on us affecting our behavior, our words and our choices. As Paul says, “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Proverbs 13:20 adds, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” But John 15:9-17 teaches, Jesus is the greatest friend because of His sacrificial love for us! He laid down His life for our salvation and because of His saving work, He calls us “friends.” What a blessing! Thus, out of this saving relationship, we can have the kind of friendships that will encourage us in our walk with God and in our Sunday worship! Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom when it comes to your friendships. Pray that you would choose your friends according to God’s Word rather than according to your sinful desires. 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 13 – Where is your place of refuge?

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.” – Proverbs 18:10-11 Scripture reading: Psalm 91 Psalm 91 is a psalm of assurance that our faithful God is with us regardless of the situation. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust’” (vv.1-2). This is the comforting confession of God’s believing people in any age! Proverbs 18:10 talks about the “name of the LORD”, a name that reminds us that He is the faithful, unchanging God Whose promises are eternally dependable! Thus, when difficulties arise, we may call on that Name, we may look to God and know that He is with us. In fact, we are “safe,” that is, high and lifted up above our enemies! As Psalm 91:14 says, “I will set him on high, because he has known My name.” Where do others find their comfort? Many find it in earthly riches, power and fame. But are they lasting? Can they give the peace the soul craves? No! As v.11b says, the rich man’s “strong city” is “like a high wall in his own esteem”, or we may say, in his “imagination”! He thinks he’s secure, but really, he’s deceived and it will lead to his downfall! Where is your refuge? Is it in Jesus Christ, the Saviour? Acts 4:12 says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” What name are you trusting in? Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that your eternal refuge is in Jesus alone, that Name that is above every name! Pray that you may always look to God for your help rather than the wealth, fame and power that the world rests in. 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 12 – Wise advice for daily living

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.” – Proverbs 16:20  Scripture reading: Psalm 1 and Psalm 19 Spiritual growth and maturity is something all Christians desire and it’s something we also desire for our children and young people. Two key parts to that in the Christian life are obedience to God’s Word and an active trust in the Lord! As our text makes clear, there are rich blessings that come with it! For when we obey God’s Word “wisely,” that is, with discernment and prayer, God brings about “good” in our lives! He causes us to be leafy and green and to bear spiritual fruit, as Psalm 1 says. In keeping God’s commands there is great reward, Psalm 19. Do we have a love for the Word and do we model that for our children with regular devotions and prayer? This wise heeding of the Word helps little ones to grow in God’s wisdom! But the other side of the spiritual coin is “trust”; this is the fruit of being daily in the Word! What joy daily putting your trust in God and His promises, brings to your life; for “Whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he”! And “happy” in the sense of having true joy in our hearts through Jesus Christ. This is not a worldly kind of happiness that’s based on our circumstances or so-called luck. No, our joy is only in Christ! Therefore, may we come to see that the only way to grow in God’s wisdom and to have true joy in our hearts is to trust and obey! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a growing love for His Word and also an active trust in His promises. For as you do, you’ll experience the good things God brings into your lives and you’ll be filled with true spiritual joy and gratitude. 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 11 – Entrusting all of our plans to God

“Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3  Scripture reading: Psalm 37:1-8, Psalm 55:22, and Philippians 4:6-7 Yesterday we looked at the blessing of prayer and how as God’s “righteous” people in Christ we ought to have every confidence that He hears our prayers and answers according to His will! Many Scriptures speak of prayer and of committing all of our works, plans or projects to God. Our proverb is very clear in that it says, “Commit your works to the LORD…” Literally, that means, “roll onto” the LORD all your works! Philippians 4:6 speaks of not being anxious, but of making our requests known to God; of committing or entrusting our works or plans to Him. This is so important for our faith, lest we become self-reliant and depend upon our own strength and wisdom. Do you daily “roll onto” your covenant God your plans, hopes and fears? Do you make it a daily habit to entrust your needs to God and then believe that He will answer? Sometimes we pray, but we don’t commit matters into His hands. Instead, we do so in word only and end up worrying and having many sleepless nights. Does this sound like you? Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the LORD and He shall sustain you…” Do you trust in God’s sustaining power for your life? He wants you to because He is faithful and will grant you what you ask according to His will - “and your thoughts will be established." Yes, by engaging daily in believing prayer we’ll “roll onto” our gracious God our works and plans! Suggestions for prayer Make a list of your plans, works or projects and daily pray to God about them. Trust in Him to give you direction, strength or help for daily life. Commit your works to God and believe He will establish your plans! 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 10 – Having confidence in prayer

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” – Proverbs 15:29 Scripture reading: Proverbs 15:8, Psalm 34:15-19, and Romans 8:26-27  Prayer is one of the great gifts we’ve been given as Christians! It’s a means by which we can bring our requests, praises and confessions to God’s holy throne, as Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer (Mt.6:5-13). But one thing is clear; apart from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we cannot pray to God and expect Him to hear us! Many today wonder, “Does God hear all prayer?” No, He does not. For as we see from v.29, “The LORD is far from the wicked,” and as v.8 reveals, “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”! So you can go through all outward motions of prayer, but if you’re not right with God through Jesus Christ, such prayer will avail you nothing! And yet, how gloriously do the Psalms sing of the confidence believers can have when praying to God! Psalm 34 is a glorious testimony to that fact! David knew this blessing of prayer. He says, “The righteous cry out and the LORD hears”! Furthermore, Paul reminds us in Romans 8, that we have the Holy Spirit Who helps us in our prayers and intercedes for us with God! Thus, in heaven, Christ and the Holy Spirit intercede for us. For although we might not always know what to pray for, we have divine Helpers Who assist us as we come to the throne of our heavenly Father! What confidence we should have in our daily prayers to God! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you grow in your prayer life. Make a daily list of things to pray for: your family, school, work and for the life and mission of the church. Lift them daily to God and trust in Him to hear and to answer your prayers! 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 9 – Having joy in the midst of suffering

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15:15  Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 3:12, Hebrews 12:1-4, and 1 Peter 4:12-19 The Christian life is filled with many challenges, especially that of persecution! This is a growing reality for the church today. Thus, when affliction comes, the days of our lives are “evil,” that is, filled with grief and sorrow. Yet, as Christians, we’re not surprised, for both Peter and Paul warned us that such would come to those who follow Christ (1 Peter 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:12). Though we suffer for our faith, our joy in Christ is not quenched in the least! Rather, as Peter says in 1 Peter 4:13, you “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings…” For we know that our present suffering will lead to glory at His return! Yes, in Christ we have “merry” hearts in the midst of our sorrow and we will also have a continual “feast,” that is, a banquet for our faith because of His saving work. For you see, Jesus is the fulfillment of Proverbs 15:15. For “all the days” of His life as the Afflicted One were “evil”, that is, marked by humiliation and suffering, especially on the cross! But through His resurrection we have victory and thus we’re able to “feast” on His saving benefits and have “merry hearts” in spite of our circumstances! Are you suffering for your faith? Are you growing weary? Then, look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, and rejoice! For His victory is your victory and at His return, your affliction will end and your joy will be full! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s strength as you suffer for your faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus’ once-for-all finished work and be comforted, knowing that in Him you have the victory! Pray for the persecuted church around the world that it may continue to feast on Christ with a merry heart! 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 8 – Take care of the paths you tread

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” - Proverbs 14:12 Scripture reading: Proverbs 7:21-27 and Matthew 7:13-14 This powerful proverb is repeated exactly in Proverbs 16:25. It’s a bit of wisdom that all people, especially our covenant youth should take to heart. Today we hear so much that our youth need to be free, think for themselves and choose their own way. This is the mentality of the world, but it ought not to be so of the Church! Covenant children and youth need to be taught the truth of God’s Word so that they will know God’s perfect will, embrace it, love it and walk in it every day! Now to be sure Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7:13-14 that entering by the narrow gate, the way of faith, is not easy. It means sacrifice and suffering and few are those who find the way. For the broad way, or the easy way, appeals to our sinful natures. Why can’t we enjoy the world’s pleasures, treasures and securities along with Christ? Why can’t we enjoy the wicked life and still rest comfortably in Christ’s salvation? Proverbs 7 paints the sad picture of the careless fool who enters the house of a harlot and suffers the sad consequences for it! But this is what happens when we plot the course of our lives apart from having God’s infallible Word as our guide. What is the path you follow? Are you following the broad way, leading to destruction, or the narrow way, leading to life? May the Lord continue to guide us on the narrow way that leads to life! Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom as you live your life before God. Ask the Lord for discernment so that you can obey His Word and follow His ways in spite of the temptations to follow the broad way to destruction. 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, June 7 – The blessing of the fear of the Lord

“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” – Proverbs 14:26-27 Scripture reading: Psalm 90 Psalm 90 reminds us of the frailty and brevity of human life, but it also comforts us with the truth of who God is to His people; “You have been our dwelling place in all generations…even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (vs.1-2b). Thus, to live with the “fear of the LORD” in our hearts means that we look at our God with awe and wonder! He is our holy God and we seek to honor and praise Him with our lives. Therefore, in Him we have a “strong confidence,” for He is a faithful, covenant God Who does not forsake His people, even when they sin, but is gracious to forgive and to keep us in our salvation. Thus, like Moses’ audience in Psalm 90, we know that we have a place of refuge! Proverbs 14:26 says, “His children will have a place of refuge.” This is true for us today! Jesus Christ is our refuge in the midst of the storms of life (Mark 4:35-41). This “fear” is also a blessing to us, or “a fountain of life" for it guards our hearts and helps steer us away from sinful living to pursue what is right and good in God’s sight, as v.27 says, “to turn one away from the snares of death.” Do we “fear” the LORD and does this “fear” affect our living? Let us pray that our words, our deeds and our worship would reflect reverence and awe for God! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would worship God today out of a humble heart and in reverent fear! Pray that the “fear of the LORD” would fill your life and help you to honor and glorify God in all your words and deeds in this new week! 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 6 – Enjoying true satisfaction

“The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.” – Proverbs 13:25  Scripture reading: Psalm 34:8-10 and 1 Tim.4:1-4 For the Christian, our daily meals ought to be a spiritual act and not merely a physical response to hunger. Yes, God has given us work and work makes us hungry so we need to eat, but our food is not to be the end-all and be-all of life! Rather, as those who pray for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11), we ask for the Lord to bless our food, for without God’s blessing our food and drink will not truly profit us (1 Timothy 4:4). But as Christians, we believe that God will nourish us, in fact, we know true satisfaction - “the righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul.” This means that God truly nourishes us so that we can be productive members of His kingdom. The wicked of the world are not so blessed. For though they might have more than we do, it only goes so far. Yes, their bodily needs are met, but they’re not drawn closer to the Giver of their food. They’re not built up in their faith because they do not understand God’s providential care nor do they know His saving grace in Christ. So their spiritual hunger continues! Thus, comes the cry of Psalm 34:8-9, “O taste and see that the LORD is good…there is no want to those who fear Him!" Let us be truly thankful for God’s gracious provision and pray for the lost that they might know true satisfaction of body and soul in Christ’s saving work! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for His generous provision and for the spiritual strength and blessing He brings to your life! Pray that the lost of our world might come to know Christ by faith and be truly satisfied in their souls! 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 5 – Words of blessing to those in need

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” – Proverbs 12:25   Scripture reading: Proverbs 15:13-30 and Matthew 6:25-34 As we know “anxiety” or worry can come upon the Christian in many ways whether it be through our work situation, stress in our marriage, financial crisis, or prolonged sickness. As a result, such stressful burdens can make us feel as if we’re under a great weight, or “depressed.” Thus, the “heart,” the seat of our emotions, the place where love, joy and peace abound, can become terribly affected and troubled. Yet, how blessed we are to have fellow believers come alongside and comfort our hearts with their words, as v.25b says, “a good word makes it glad”! Proverbs 15 also speaks of the blessing of such words: v.23 says, “a word spoken in due season, how good it is”, v.30 says, “a good report makes the bones healthy.” Or think of Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Yes, being able to comfort one another is a real blessing, for we’re able to comfort others with the comfort we have in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:4)! Some of the most blessed words of comfort in times of anxiety come from Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 as He speaks of the Father’s loving care for us! For if He so cares for His creation, won’t He care for us, as those made in His image? Yes, as we ponder the precious words of Scripture and come to God in prayer, we’ll find our anxiety lifted and replaced by true peace! (Philippians 4:6-7) Suggestions for prayer Ask God to lift the anxiety that fills your life. Give your struggles to God in prayer and reflect on His precious promises of love, protection and care for all your needs. Pray that God would use you to help others who are struggling. 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 4 – Christian fruitlfulness leads to Christian witness

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” – Proverbs 11:30 Scripture reading: Matthew 5:13-16 and 1 Peter 2:9-12 The life we have in Christ is an awesome reality! By grace, we go from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:4-5), and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)! Thus, because of Christ, we are “righteous” in God’s sight and through the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we produce spiritual “fruit” which can be a rich blessing to others! Our text calls such fruit “a tree of life,” that is, a place of refreshment, joy and blessing! Its language speaks of the “tree of life” in Revelation 22, which brings eternal blessing and healing to the nations. What a reality to ponder! That our lives can be a blessing to those who are hurting, in need of help, comfort, or encouragement! Such “fruit” is a blessing to the Church as we use our gifts, give of our time and seek to live out our faith. But also this “fruit” is a “tree of life” for the lost and broken of our world! As v.30b says, “...he who wins souls is wise.” It has the idea of capturing a prisoner or wild animal. How are we in living out our faith? Do we want to just influence people morally, or do we desire to see them come to saving faith in Christ? This is how the “wise” seek to live their lives! So let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify God on the Day He visits us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God to continue to make you fruitful for the sake of your life in the Church and for your witness to the world. Pray for ways that God can use you so that you can let your light shine for the salvation of the lost! 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 3 – The joy of God’s blessing

“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” - Proverbs 10:22 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 8:11-18 and Psalm 127 As Christians, we are blessed because we are God’s people and we know how faithful and good He is! We see that especially in the “blessing of the LORD” upon our lives. God’s “blessing” is the bestowal of His loving favor, of His covenant kindness upon us, which affects all of life. And that includes our work, family, worship and our witness! As our proverb says, through that blessing the LORD makes us “rich” or “wealthy.” That is, He provides for all of our needs. He’s the One Who blesses the work of our hands and makes it fruitful! (Psalm 90:17). The children of Israel were to learn that lesson well, as Deuteronomy 8 reminds us. Psalm 127 also reminds us that we labor in vain if the LORD’s blessing is not upon the work that we do! Therefore, we should always pray for God’s blessing! For when we do, we’ll see God’s mighty hand at work in so many ways, for as Prov. 10:22 says, “He adds no sorrow with it.” In other words, God’s blessing is not meant to harm us, but is an expression of His love! It shows the depth of His care and concern. That means, even the blessings that seem at first to bring struggle or trial, are really meant for a greater purpose: that we might be drawn closer to God in our walk with Him and in our service in the kingdom! Yes, how rich we are because of God’s blessing upon us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on your life, family, work and worship. Also, give thanks to God for how He turns various trials and spiritual struggles into blessings in your life! For God’s blessing reveals His loving care for our lives. 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 2 – You must guard your heart

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 Scripture reading: Proverbs 4 Guarding your “heart” is something all believers need to do, not just the young! Solomon writes to his children (v.1) in a very personal and passionate way. As he was instructed from his youth, now he has the responsibility to charge his sons to “Get wisdom! Get understanding…wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (vv.5a-7). Isn’t this our desire for our children, as well as for our own lives? Solomon says in v.23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” Do we guard our hearts, as we should? Sadly, often the movies we watch or our favorite TV shows leave much to be desired! We need to pray about these things, especially as we hope to set good examples for our children and grandchildren. How much time do we spend in the Word, setting our minds on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-2), or in setting our minds on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)? These are things that strengthen our faith and build up a strong defense against the temptations that daily confront us. As Solomon says, “When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life” (vv.12-13). May these be words we all take to heart! Suggestions for prayer Pray for obedience to God’s Word and for growing in wisdom. Ask for spiritual discernment that you may be careful with your life and the choices you make. Guard your heart and fill it with things that will strengthen your walk with God. 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 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....