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Daily devotional

October 27 – Motivation for pure living

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died… – 2 Corinthians 5:14 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:9-15 If we know ourselves, we know how hard it is for us to change our ways. Our passions and desires are strong. We want to have things our way. We love our personal sins and do our best to redefine them in ways that make us feel comfortable with them. We may be told that our sin is wrong, but we learn not to take such rules so seriously. It takes more than merely being told something is wrong or being warned of the consequences of our ways, to be motivated to follow Jesus in holy living. The law of God, with all its warnings, cannot change our hearts. The gospel alone can make our sin odious and holiness delightful. The way the gospel does this is by revealing the love of God in Jesus. Paul says the love of God compelled him to reach others with the gospel because he knew that all must appear before the judgment seat of God. Jesus died so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us. Jesus, in John 15, sets His love before us as a motivation for bearing fruit and then calls us to remain in His love. We are to live in the awareness of God's love, letting His love overwhelm us and then out of that love to love God and others. His love compels us to reach out to others that they might also enjoy His love. Suggestions for prayer As Christ died so that we might be made pure, pray for a life of purity in thought, emotion and action. Pray for a heart for lost sinners. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 26 – It takes disciples to make disciples

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deuteronomy 6:6 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 11:1-19 We read in Deuteronomy 11:18  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. If we are to lead children in the Lord's ways, we must be walking in them ourselves. Example speaks volumes! We must know Him and what He has done if we would love Him and follow Him with full hearts. If we instruct children by just giving them laws and morals, then they have no incentive to keep them. But when they see us in love following Jesus, thankful for what He has done, they are inclined to follow. Receiving rules without knowing Jesus is slavery. In knowing Jesus and loving Him, we find that His yoke is easy, His burden is light.  Let children see this in us! Many parents think that loving their children is giving them things they couldn't have as kids. But children would rather have the loving leadership of parents. If we want children to follow us, they must see that we love them. So with God. If we want our children to follow Jesus, they must see His love and forgiveness. They must see us loving as He loves and forgiving as He forgives. Seeing His love in us, they will walk in those ways too. Proverbs 22:6 says, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might love God more and be a more faithful disciple, being examples of love and faith to others. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 25 – The Church's role in making disciples

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deuteronomy 6:6 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:11-16 In these verses, God is not just speaking to parents, but to the covenant community, the church.  Notice that 'hearts' is plural in the verse above. Today we tend to think more individualistically. In a Biblical view, God is in Jesus, saving for Himself a people, a bride, His church! There is a great emphasis on the unity of believers in a common faith and purpose. This training disciples, including children, is a mutual responsibility. This is why He has given pastors and teachers to unite us all as followers who reflect Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Timothy is told to teach other men what he had been taught, so that they, in turn, will be able to teach others. In 2 Timothy 4, he is to continue in what he has learned, (the Scriptures), which are able to make him wise...  for salvation, … and are useful for teaching rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. These passages teach that the church must not only proclaim the truth, but teach it in a way that people will be able to repeat it to others and always be able to give an answer for the hope that is within them. Thus the goal of the church is to have a vibrant educational ministry. Never shun this ministry, but utilize it. Attend worship, but also be involved in education, that you might be fully equipped for ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the educational ministry of the church. Pray for ways you can be involved in this ministry. Pray for those who teach others in the way of faith. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 24 – Making disciples starts at home

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Parents are the first to instruct and train their children. Fathers, in particular, are singled out as responsible for this. Note the two words. Discipline and instruction imply a focused purpose, not a casual approach. Think of how a coach operates. He instructs players about plays and moves, makes them practice them over and over again (training), encouraging and admonishing them to excel. So parents are to instruct their children and train them. Parents are to teach them about God and Jesus. Tell Bible stories so that they can see God and Jesus as revealed in them. Teach them how God has provided salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and how by His Word and Spirit He transforms them. Explain the sacraments to them. Teach them about the place and necessity of the church. Teach them how the righteousness of Christ is ours. Teach them how the world is passing away and that Christ is making all things new. Give them the vision of the coming of the new heavens and earth. Such things are foundational to holy living and such instruction begins at home, not at church or school. This is to be constant. Deuteronomy 11:19 says You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. At all times! For example, your reaction when you hit your thumb with a hammer speaks volumes about your love for the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you can be a faithful parent, or that parents you know can be faithful in training and instruction. Pray for children to know and love God. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 23 – The basis for living as disciples

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. – Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-5 The book of Deuteronomy is basically a long sermon reminding God's people how they should live in the kingdom they are being given. Central to kingdom living are two things revealed in the verse above. The first is the basic Jewish Confession, Hear, O Israel, The Lord (Yahweh) our God, the Lord (Yahweh) is one. This confession takes some central truths about God and unites them in a confessional statement. Who is God? What has He done? What is He like? He is the Lord (Yahweh), the God who redeemed His people as He promised. He is the one and only God. He is our God! If we are going to be disciples of Jesus, we need to ask these questions about our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The answer is crucial if we are to keep the second part of the text, namely, to love Him with all our being. This pattern is consistent throughout Scripture. God tells us about Himself as He reveals His great works. He also illustrates His love before He asks us to love. Thus it is important to keep God and His plan of salvation clearly in our minds if we are going to fulfill His command to love Him, to follow Him, to be like Him! So this is the pattern for making disciples. Speak of God, who He is, what He has done and what He is doing. Then call people to believe and, denying themselves, to follow Him in love, keeping His commands. Suggestions for prayer Pray for guidance in reading and studying Scripture, that you may come to know God. Pray for the Spirit to shape you to be like Him, loving God and others as He has loved you. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 22 – Jesus' love of his people

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. – John 15:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 3:12-21 As the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves His disciples. He loves them with the same quality of love - as deeply and selflessly and purely. In love, Jesus sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Jesus promised us when He left that He would be with us until the close of the age. In Hebrews 13:5, He reiterates the promise, I will never leave you or forsake you. So sure is that love that we need not fear anything, but can simply rest in Him. Hebrews 13:6 says: so we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Never doubt His love. Romans 5:10 says if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Jesus reigns in glory and works in everything for the good of those who love Him. Paul prays that we might grasp how vast the love of Christ is, Whose goal is to save us completely. He is coming again for us, to take us home, that we might enjoy eternal fellowship with God. The love of God, which sent Jesus to take away the guilt of our sin, is sufficient to do far more than all we ask or imagine. Rest in His love! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you understand the depth of Christ's love and His desire to save you completely. Pray that you may love others as deeply. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 21 – The Father's love of the son

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. –  John 5:20 Scripture reading: John 5:19-24 The love of Jesus is rooted in the love of the Father for Him. Love motivated the plan of salvation, a plan that would result in ultimate glory for each other. Love motivated the Father to send the Son into the world. The Father spoke of His love, saying, This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him! (Mark 9:7). God took great pleasure in Jesus. At the time of Jesus' baptism, God said,  You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). This love remained even on the cross, as God poured out His wrath on Jesus. It was love that sent Jesus to the cross to bear the curse. On the cross, Father and Son are united in restoring sinners to eternal fellowship with God. In so loving the world that He gave His Son, the Father did not love His Son any less. It was love at every point that worked salvation: love of sinners, love of the Son, love of perfect justice and righteousness. The love of the Father spoken of here is not one of pity or compassion, but of pure delight. It is the love of heaven where there is no misery to pity or show compassion to. It is the love that enjoys the company of the other. The Father's love through Jesus to His people is also a delight. Jesus showed compassion for us in going to the cross because He delighted in those He would redeem. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may be able to grasp the width, length and depth of Christ's love (see Ephesians 3:17-19). Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 20 – Remaining in Christ's love

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. – John 15:10 Scripture reading: John 15:1-17 A flower picked will die. Anything severed from its source of life will die. This is a vital spiritual lesson. Jesus calls Himself the vine and believers the branches. He gives life. Jesus says that the Father is glorified in our lives bearing fruit, showing us to be disciples. Jesus says that apart from Him, we cannot do this. In Him, we can bear much fruit, the fruit of a life of praise. We have seen earlier this month that this is the purpose for which we were created and are saved. We live in a world that inhibits spiritual growth. Jesus tells us that following Him will bring hardship (John 16:33). So He reminds us of His love so that we might love one another, encouraging each other to follow Jesus. Interestingly, He tells us in v 9, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Jesus' love is rooted in the Father's love. God, Himself is love. Between Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is perfect love and harmony. They are one in passion, vision, and purpose.  The reason Jesus was so focused on His work was because He shared the same vision of redemption and glory as His Father had. He obeyed His Father perfectly and calls us to the same obedience, with the same passion. Once we know His love we will want to remain in His love. Thus we follow Jesus' words, for they are life abundant and eternal. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a love that reflects the love of Jesus for His Father, so that we will follow Him just as He perfectly obeyed His Father. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 19 – Renewing our minds

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 Scripture reading: Romans 12:1-10 Today we begin a new week of work. If we are Christians, we should be unique in the way we approach our work and various activities. It is important to think on these things because otherwise, we will simply do things the way the world around us does them. Our work and thoughts will then be conformed to this world rather than focused on the kingdom that Jesus is bringing in by His Word and Spirit. So we must set our minds on the purpose for which God made us and for which God saves us, which is ultimately that everything be brought into submission to Jesus for God's glory. Whether you go to school, a worksite, work at home, or are on vacation, how can you submit your activities to Jesus and bring God glory? It takes a whole new mindset. We must be willing to follow Jesus' teaching and example. It means we have to take ourselves out of the centre of our thoughts and plans and put Christ there. When Jesus came, He came proclaiming the kingdom of God. This required repentance, that is a change of heart and mind to put God's glory as our utmost goal. We all have abilities that are to be used for the sake of others in service to Christ. It is only when we view everything in light of the purposes of God, that we can begin to discern what is good, acceptable and perfect. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would rearrange the way you think so that He is the focus of your affections, work, studies, play - everything. Submit in everything to Jesus. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 18 – United in prayer

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel – Ephesians 6:18-19  Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10-20 Today is a worship day. So we sit under the preaching of the Word, fellowship with God's people in the sacraments, lift our voices in song, and unite in prayer. Prayer is an essential part of Christian fellowship and worship. We pray as individuals, but in worship, we pray with united heart and voice as one body. Prayer is speaking to God, laying our hearts before Him so that He knows our needs and desires. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. The church's prayers are never to be simply self-focused. We are concerned not just for ourselves, but that the cause of the gospel be advanced. Thus we pray for political leaders, that we may have peace in which to live godly lives and to speak the truth with love toward others, making disciples. So we pray for those who do not know Christ, but are yet bound by sin and its consequences, that they too may know the peace we enjoy in Jesus. And we also pray for each other, lifting up our praises, needs and desires to our God. Prayer is a primary way in which we communicate our love and thanksgiving to God for all He has done. Make sure today to pray with and for the church and for all people. Suggestions for prayer Pray for ministers today. Pray that all believers may gather for worship. Pray that all sinners may find forgiveness and rest in Jesus' forgiving grace. Pray for those in authority over us, that they receive wisdom. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 17 – Our primary duty

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42 Scripture reading: Acts 2:36-47 The church faces a lot of skeptical criticism today. What should the church be like? Many think that Acts 2:42-47 describes the ideal church. Yet, further reading in Acts reveals that they had not yet arrived. They needed further organization and had to deal with many problems.  Yet, these verses display something that is true of an ideal church, that worshipping together is a primary pleasure and duty of the church. The new converts in Acts had just come to faith in Jesus as the only Saviour from sin. And the first thing we see them doing is worshipping. The first mark of a Spirit-filled church is that they are devoted to the preaching of the Word and the sacraments, and to prayer and fellowship, key elements in worship. They could have devoted themselves to seeking the Pentecost experience all over again, but they did not. Rather, understanding what Pentecost meant they sought to equip themselves for worship and witness in the world. Often today preaching and sacraments are diminished in worship. Yet historically, whenever the church has focused on preaching the gospel, she has seen revival and reformation. This is because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. A Spirit-filled church (and person) will always be a Word-focused one. Tomorrow is a day for worship. Do not neglect the worship (Hebrews 10:25) and the fellowship of God's people, or your personal devotions (reading, studying and meditating on the Word, and praying). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you are a Word-centred person. Pray that the church in her worship remains focused on the Word, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 16 – Striving for the maturity of Christ

…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. – Ephesians 4:13 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-14 The apostle gives three reasons for the gift of pastors to equip us for ministry. First, to reach the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Second, that we become mature and third, that we reach the whole measure of the stature of Christ. As one body we are to follow Christ, becoming like Him, until we are exactly like Him. Through continual and mutual submission to the Word preached, we become of one mind and heart with Jesus and each other. A sign of an immature faith is holding on to grudges, refusing to forgive. This is not being childlike, but childish. Another sign of immaturity is to be easily led by the dramatic and charismatic. Young children are easily led by emotions and are tossed about by every new fad that comes along. This should not characterize the church. Using daily ordinary activities such as prayer, Bible reading, worship, sacraments, and acts of kindness, we are to follow Christ. Grounding ourselves in truth, in Jesus, we are to remain faithful, reflecting His character to the world. We are to do this as individuals, but also as a church. Mature Christians, knowing their own shortcomings, always correct their emotions and actions by the standard of Scripture and always forgive others according to the standard of Christ. Thus they always work toward unity of heart and mind in the church, so that as a body we reflect the fullness of our awesome Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as Christians we increasingly reflect the character of Jesus in our relationships with each other and towards the world. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 15 – United in ministry

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 We have seen that as believers we are called to ministry jointly with other Christians. Christ has organized us in His church for this purpose, that we may encourage each other in doing good, including in worship. Genuine religion is, of faith, serving the Lord in ministry to others. James says: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). Galatians 6 reminds us we have a duty to gently restore sinners. We are to be attentive to the needs of others in order to encourage them. We all have a duty to comfort the distressed, show hospitality, gather in the lost sheep and pray for one another. Romans 15 says that we who "are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak… to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." This follows the pattern of Christ Who did not please Himself. One way to encourage others is to be faithful in worship. We know what it feels like to worship in an empty church. When you decide not to worship, think of how your absence might discourage others. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that we all have gifts to use for the upbuilding of the body. As part of the body, we must seek the welfare of the whole body, not just ourselves. This is part of our joint ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you are filled with a concern for ministering to the needs of others, particularly those who are straying. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 14 – The purpose of ministers

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus....preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 4 Ministers are pastors or shepherds. Together with the elders of the church, they are to equip the people of God for ministry. Ministers do this primarily through two means: the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. God's Word feeds us since it reveals to us the living Word, namely Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. 1 Timothy 4 teaches us that a good preacher uses the Word to expose false teachings and points to the truth. The Word is like a sharp double-edged sword, that penetrates to our deepest parts to expose our sins and expose us to the light of Christ. Thus Paul teaches Titus (Titus 1:9) to encourage living in accord with sound teaching so that no one will malign the Word of God, but rather be led to glorify God. It is not an easy task to reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching. Thus it is crucial that pastors continually pray for themselves and the people under their charge. We should constantly be keeping them in prayer that they may faithfully bring the word and so equip us for ministry. Because of their work, ministers are often the recipients of criticism. Because they are sinful they often fail. Forgive them and love them and let them know that you do. Enable them to do the work of ministry with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no blessing to you (Hebrews 13:17). Suggestions for prayer Pray for your minister that he may faithfully bring the Word.  Pray that you might have a teachable spirit. Pray also for missionaries. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 13 – Called to ministry

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… – Ephesians 4:11-12 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-12 We all need the proper tools to do our work. Yet all the tools in the world do not help us if we do not know how to use them. Our children also need to know how to use the tools we give them. We not only give them Bibles, but we teach them how to use them! Every Christian is given a gift (gifts) to be used for the Lord. We need to learn how to use it (them). This is why we were given the apostles and prophets (the Bible), evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They are to equip us for ministry, teaching us how to be faithful ministers using the gifts God has given us. Many think that ministry is something ministers and missionaries are called to and that as church members, they are just to be ministered to. This is out of step with what the Spirit says in these verses. We have a joint ministry. We all are anointed to build up the church, helping fellow Christians and bringing in the lost sheep so that the church increasingly becomes one. If you are not engaged in this ministry in some form, you must repent of your sin and begin to fulfill the ministry to which the Spirit of God is calling you. While all are gifted, we all need each other in order to be built up, to grow in grace and truth. We must be active in our mutual ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to use your gifts to build others up and to fulfill your ministry. Pray for your pastors and elders that they may help you in your ministry. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 12 – Grateful praise-worthy living

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day today. Christians will above all thank and praise God for calling them out of darkness into His wonderful light. We do so best by speaking of Him and showing Christ's character in our living. In the Old Testament, we read that God redeemed a people in order to bring praise to His name. In Jeremiah 13:11, God says: I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. This God-centered focus should be ours. Often we fall into the trap of thinking about our success, our honour, our benefits, even in times of worship and praise, yet God's purpose for all of our living is His glory. When we forget this, our witness is poor and God's name is not glorified as it ought to be. Today is a day for prayer and song, for speaking to others about the greatness of our God. Salvation is not simply for our welfare and pleasure, but that we might serve God and witness for Jesus. We have a natural tendency to conform to the pattern of life around us as Israel did. We need to discipline ourselves to live holy lives reflecting God's character. As kingdom citizens, we are aliens and strangers here. Focus your living on Jesus, abstain from selfish desires to living holy lives for our Saviour's praise. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks for all of God's blessings, above all the wonderful life we have in Jesus. Pray for a Christ-centered focus in all you do. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 11 – A peculiar people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 135 Today we consider the phrase a people belonging to the Lord. This phrase is based on Old Testament language as in Psalm 135:4. Some versions use the phrase a peculiar people; peculiar not in the sense of strange, but because God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He made us His own, to be light in this world. Thus we are different from all other peoples. You find this idea in Exodus 19:5 where God says, now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. All the earth belongs to the Lord, but believers are special to Him (peculiar, treasured). The Old Testament often refers to God's people this way. Malachi 3:17 calls those who serve the Lord, His treasured possession; there God is speaking of those who would yet come to Him. The church is God's treasured possession because we have been bought by the blood of Christ. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die to remove the guilt of our sin. As you gather for worship today remember how the sacrifice of Jesus has brought us to God. All who confess their sins and believe in Jesus as their atoning sacrifice are His special people, His treasured possession. Jesus is coming again to take us to be with Him forever. Treasure Him who treasures you! To God be the glory! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for all God's people, His church. Give thanks that He forgives all our sin and calls us His children. Pray for a heart that treasures Him who treasures us. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 10 – A holy nation

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12 In this text, the church is defined as a holy nation. A nation is a group of people combined by common laws and government, privileges, obligations and customs. Jesus Christ is our King. We are to live by His Word. We have privileges such as freedom from sin and freedom to enjoy fellowship with God. We have common traditions (worship, devotions, sacraments). We have a passion to welcome new citizens to the kingdom. Our citizenship is in the heavenly kingdom of Jesus. We are a holy nation - that is, one set apart, consecrated to bringing glory to God in this world. We seek His kingdom and righteousness first of all. Zechariah 14:20-21 foretells this kingdom where: HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty. Indeed, our clothes, cars, tools, homes, cell phones, pots and pans are set apart, holy to the Lord. We are holy to the Lord. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. (Romans 14:7). Whatever we do, whether in word and deed, we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). We must use our citizenship in this world for the advancement of Christ's heavenly kingdom, to bring praise to Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we use all we are and have in service to Jesus. Pray that we may be ambassadors for our King, calling all people to faith. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 9 – God's chosen people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 To be chosen for honour in our community, school, or on our team, fills us with a determination to be worthy of that honour. We who believe were chosen to a particular task. This is not just as individuals, but as a body of believers. The words "people, priesthood, and nation" imply a united people. This is the church! God takes us, strangers, from each other, and unites us as one body - not because we are so beautiful or wise, so organized or skillful, but so that through us He might be glorified. We boast not in ourselves but in Him! In Exodus 19:5-6, God says, Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Priesthood implies brotherhood. We are a family! God adopted us in Christ so that we would bring Him glory and praise, as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Whatever we do, even eating and drinking, it is for His praise (1 Corinthians. 9:31). The honour of being chosen is to declare the praises of God. This takes place in worship but is not limited to worship. All of our living is to be a harmony of praise to God. We declare His praise by living like Him. 1 Peter 2:12 says, Live such good lives among the pagans that …they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.  Good living includes our conversations, sports, entertainment and music. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the church may work in harmony for the sake of God's glory. Pray that in word and deed you may bring praise to God. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 8 – Made for praise

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 It is a marvelous blessing to be gifted with faith and to be united to Christ and His people in His church. But we may not just sit back and say, 'We have it good!' We are saved and united to bring praise to God. This was His purpose from the beginning. In Exodus 19:6 God declared His intent to make His people a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Isaiah 61:6 echoes this when He says, you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. In Revelation 1:6, glory and praise is given to God by those who have been made a kingdom and priest to serve His God and father. The purpose of a temple is worship. We are not united simply to be saved, but to do good works of praise (Ephesians 2:10). Hebrews 13:15 says, Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. God unites us as a temple, in order to glorify Him, to praise Him. Some day all believers will be united in praise. The New Jerusalem will consist of believers from all nations and times united in praise. Our worship services are but a foretaste of this. Although far from perfect, when we feed on the pure Word of God and allow ourselves to be shaken, shaped and renewed, as we come to Christ, we are being united to bring Him glory and praise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that believers will devote themselves to worship God and give Him glory. Pray that you may discover ways to give God glory in daily living. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 7 – A living unity with Jesus

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-22 We have considered this verse for several days. Have we noticed the living and dynamic nature of the church? As we come implies a process. Also, notice the phrase are being built. Then notice the phrase like living stones. We are not church simply because of a death on a cross. We are not united because in the past we made a confession. Our unity is not in a past event, but a present reality, or rather, a present relationship. We are still coming, still being built up. We are living stones. As we learn more about Jesus, as we follow Him, we become like Him and become more united with each other. If you are married, your unity with your wife is not just (I hope) based on a past wedding date. It is something ongoing, something enjoyed and worked at. So with Jesus. We are His bride and we want to know and enjoy Him more and more. We are not just coexisting until He comes again, but we are being built up as we strengthen our relationship, exercising our faith in Jesus.  As we love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, we grow in unity as a body of believers. Jesus is the living stone. As we come to Him, His life fills us; in Him, we grow and bear fruit. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. In Him, we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the living fellowship you have with Jesus. Give thanks for the beauty of a church growing in holiness and in numbers. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 6 – Rejected, but precious

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: John 1:1-13 Yesterday, we saw that Jesus is the foundation of the church. It is in coming to Jesus that we are united to form the church. Peter, however, says that He was rejected by men. In John 1, we read that He came unto his own but His own received him not. Many Jews did not receive Him as the promised Saviour. This is also true of all people. Unless moved by the Spirit of God, we do not believe in Him. Romans 1 teaches that there is no one who seeks after God, no, not one. Many today take offense at Jesus. He is a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message (see v.8).  The Jews rejected salvation through Jesus because they pursued salvation as if it were by works (by the law) (see Romans 9:32). We preach ...Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Although many reject Him, He is chosen by God. From before the foundation of the world, Jesus was the chosen Redeemer, and although despised and rejected by men, He is God in the flesh, full of grace and truth. He now reigns in glory to bring us to glory. To know Him is to be forgiven of sin and given newness of life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus may be preached and that sinners might come to repentance and faith in him. Pray that your faith might be strengthened. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 5 – The Church's one foundation!

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:18-1 Peter 2:5 Many see the church as a voluntary organization of believers for encouraging one another in Christian living. They do not see it as a living and struggling organism, the growing body of Christ, the temple of God. 'As you come to him … you are being built into a spiritual house.' These words demonstrate a dramatic shift. The Jewish people thought the law was the cornerstone of God's people, but here we are directed to Jesus as the rock on which the church is built. God had promised that He would lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation, who gives security for believers, but judgment for those who rejected Him. God, Himself would be that stone (Isaiah 28:16ff). In Acts 4, Peter tells us Jesus is the stone the builders rejected which has become the cornerstone (Psalm 118). 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. A cornerstone is crucial in a foundation, uniting two walls together. The point is, that in our relationship with Jesus, we are being built up together as a spiritual house. The church is built of those blessed by the Spirit with faith in Jesus. He is the one and only Saviour given to men through whom we can be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God. In Jesus, we are united together and are being built into a spiritual house of worship. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus and thus your unity with other believers. Pray that unbelievers may come to Jesus and enjoy unity with Him. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 4 – Gathered for praise

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42  Scripture reading: Acts 2:37-47 Today Christians gather for worship. Worship and praise are our primary duty. Public worship stands at the heart of daily service to God. When in Acts 2 the Spirit applied the gospel to the hearts of the hearers, they responded by uniting together with other believers for worship. They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, that is, to hear how Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament and is the only Saviour and Lord. Around this searching of Scripture, they united in fellowship, prayer and sacraments. These are the basic elements of worship. In Acts 2:46, we see how eagerly they devoted themselves to this with glad and sincere hearts. The indwelling Spirit united them for worship in the Word and sacraments. Today we tend to minimize such ordinary activities. We want to dwell on the experiences of faith. Yet it is more crucial for us to hear about Jesus and how all Scripture focuses on Him, calling us to follow Him. This stress of the early church on the Word and sacraments is something we must regain. All too often we forget the crucial nature of worship and the need for such fellowship in the Word and Sacraments. A Spirit-filled church will be a Word and worship focused church. To praise God as He desires, we need to know Him as He reveals Himself to us. Devote yourself to such worship and fellowship in a church where Jesus is faithfully preached and the Triune God wholeheartedly worshipped. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will bless the preaching of His Word today. Pray that you and the church will be devoted to faithful praise and worship. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 3 – To God be the glory

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. – Romans 11:36 Scripture reading: Romans 11:30-36 One rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation was Soli Deo Gloria (To God only be glory). On reading the Scriptures in the original language, the reformers discovered that God's glory is a major theme of Scripture. God is the creator of the world. He made us to enjoy him and glorify him. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that the primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God's eternal plan for us, not only in our creation but even in our salvation (we were brought out of darkness into His light to declare His praise) is to show His glory – even our eating and drinking is to be for the praise of His name. To glorify God is to show forth His excellence. His love is perfect and we praise Him for that! His justice is absolute and we exalt His justice. His mercy is pure, His compassion knows no bounds. He provides all we need, so His care is complete, even in the middle of adversity. His grace is always sufficient. To glorify God is to show His perfection and praise Him for it. It is easy to talk about things we think highly of. After the Patriots' last Super Bowl comeback victory, everyone had to praise the skill of Tom Brady and his team. They glorified him! This is something we were saved to do concerning our God and Saviour! Speak of His excellent deeds and character! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God enables you to see and believe the mighty works of God and that you can glorify Him for them. Pray that you come to enjoy Him in all His excellence! Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 2 – Our God reigns

And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church. – Ephesians 1:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-23 The sovereignty of God over all of life is something we should treasure and meditate on often. The hairs of our head are numbered (Luke 12:7) so that not one falls without His knowledge. He works in everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He works to preserve the church He purchased with His blood, and He will lose none of those who were given to Him by His Father (John 6:39). His sovereign grace is so comforting. Since we are born dead in our sins and trespasses, we must be born again (by the Spirit) if we would see the kingdom. This is God's gracious act. Jesus is the author and finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us! Now that He reigns in glory, how much more shall we not be fully saved by His life (Romans 5:10). This sovereign grace is such that He even controls the minds and decisions of kings and directs nations in a way that accomplishes His purposes. Nothing in all creation can ever separate a believer from God. Since He is king over all of life, we must submit all of our living to Him for His glory. Not just Sunday worship, but everything is to bring praise to God. Since we so often fail in this, we may be comforted that God will yet accomplish His purposes. His Kingdom will come, His will be done! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for giving Jesus all authority. Praise God that Jesus is working in everything for the salvation of His people. Serve Him as your Lord! Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of October

October 31 is the anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing of the 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, sparking what is known as the Protestant Reformation.  The reformers rediscovered that salvation was by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, through the Word alone! And they discovered that all this was for the glory of God alone! The result was that great changes took place in worship and church organization. There was also a renewed enthusiasm for missions and a deeper understanding of how all of life is to be lived for the glory of God. This month we will focus on some of these things, particularly the nature of the church and her duty, and the wholehearted worship and service to which Christians are called. October 1 – What is the gospel? For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." – Romans 1:16-17 Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-17 The Scriptures (the Bible) are able to make us wise unto salvation. The Scriptures are inspired by God (2Timothy 3:15-16). The Apostle Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, but most excited to proclaim it since it provided the only way to be at peace with God. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, which many will celebrate later this month, many rediscovered in the Bible that Salvation is not something we obtain by our works, but is a gift of God, obtained for us by the work of Jesus on the cross. While the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven by God (Romans 1:18), which is a scary thought since all of us have sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed. Since we cannot save ourselves through doing good works, since we are all transgressors and since the righteous shall live by faith, God himself provided righteousness for us in the person and work of Jesus. In love, He sent Jesus to live a perfect life for us and to make the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we would be restored to fellowship with God. The Bible reveals the only way of salvation, namely, that in Jesus, God saves sinners, so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The Bible fully contains whatever we need to believe for salvation. No other revelation is necessary. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the Bible. Thank God that Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation. Pray for faith to rest in this truth. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 5 – Walk by the Spirit: not under the law?

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. – Galatians 5:18 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Galatians 3:13-14 Are Christians really not under the law? What does Paul mean here? He doesn’t mean that you don’t have to obey God’s moral law anymore. You still are required to love God and love your neighbor as a Christian (Galatians 5:13-14; Romans 13:8-10). What then does He mean? Paul means that we are no longer under the law’s condemnation. Earlier he said Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And so, it can no longer condemn you, but it still commands you. In terms of the former, the words of the hymn, Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, by John Newton, are very comforting: Let us love and sing and wonder, let us praise the Saviour’s name, He has hushed the law’s loud thunder, He has quenched Mt. Sinai’s flame: He has washed us with His blood, He has brought us nigh to God. For Christians, the law of God functions as a rule of love for God and neighbour. And, “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Finally, as Christians we have the law of God written on our hearts by the Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31-34). But the law doesn’t produce love. Rather, love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Spirit produces His fruit as we hear both the law and the gospel preached, and He conforms us into the image of Christ Who fulfilled the law and died for our sins in sacrificial love for us. Suggestions for prayer Praise God with the words of Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, by John Newton. Meditate on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 and thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. 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....