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Daily devotional

July 27 – Whose side are you on, anyway?

“Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’” – Joshua 5:13b, 14a Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 The night before the conquest of Jericho, Joshua was alone, and at a certain moment, he was startled by a man standing before him, with his drawn sword in his hand. Joshua asked him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? The man said, No. It’s a strange answer. He is obviously ready to fight. So he must be for Israel or for Jericho. One or the other. But he says, No; in other words, I’m not on either side. I am the commander of the army of the LORD. It will become very clear that this man is the LORD Himself, and Israel is His people, and they were there to take possession of the land that He had promised them. So why didn’t he say, “I’m on your side, Joshua?” Maybe it sounds strange to say it this way, but we always have to remember that the LORD isn’t on our side. The Bible says in lots of places that God is with us and for us. But, He’s not on our side, in the sense that He takes up our agenda, that He’ll always make sure things always work out the way we want them to. God is sovereign, and He’s working on His agenda. And that’s good news, because His agenda is infinitely more wonderful than ours. He has decided to glorify Himself not by doing what we want Him to do, but by saving us from our sin by grace through faith in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Glorify God for taking you up in His sovereign purpose, so that you receive the indescribable blessing as He vindicates the honor of His Name. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 26 – It’s all about God

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand.” – Joshua 5:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:13-15 The name of this book is Joshua, and people have the tendency to read the book as if it is all about him, about how faithful and wise and courageous he was. They do that because that seems to make the message of the book relevant and practical: we should be faithful and wise and courageous like Joshua. And when we read about this strange meeting between Joshua and the commander of the army of the LORD, and we try to understand how this is relevant to us and our lives, we might imagine that there are several things we should admire about Joshua and that we should imitate. Maybe Joshua was meditating or praying. That shows his faith. Or maybe he was scouting things out. That shows his wisdom. When the man approached him, Joshua challenged him. That shows how brave he was. And in the end, he asked the man what he was supposed to do. Joshua was humble. Those are certainly admirable qualities. But this story isn’t about Joshua. It’s about this mysterious figure who is called, the commander of the army of the LORD. It’s about God, and what He was going to do at Jericho. That’s what makes the whole Bible so absolutely relevant, and so utterly practical. Because in the Bible, God shows us Who He is, and what He is like, and what He does for our salvation. The Bible is the gospel, the foundation of our faith, and our only comfort. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that the story of your salvation is all about Him, and His glory, which He has chosen to reveal by showing grace and favor to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 25 – Taste the goodness of the Lord

“And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” – Joshua 5:11-12 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:10-12 The day after the Passover, Israel ate one of the best meals they had ever tasted. On that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. Why was that meal so delicious? Not just because they’d been eating manna for forty years. Not because of an exceptional menu. This is about more than the food. God brought them into Canaan at harvest time. It was a land flowing with milk and honey, and they ate of the produce of the land. It was delicious because it tasted like grace, because it tasted like God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God had promised, If you trust in Me and walk with Me in repentance and faith and obedience, I will give you a land with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant. A land where you live by grace. Israel tasted the goodness of the LORD. This is the gospel. Walk with God by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ. He says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10) Suggestions for prayer Ask that God will help you to taste and see His goodness and faithfulness to you, in the good things with which He provides you from day to day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 24 – Remember and believe, so that you can stand firm in faith

“While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho.” – Joshua 5:10 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:10-12 You can be sure that it was no coincidence that God brought Israel into Canaan when He did, just before it was time to celebrate the Passover. From a military point of view, from a human point of view, celebrating the Passover at that moment and in that place made no sense. But, spiritually speaking, Israel said, We can’t go forward, we can’t take up the struggle of faith, without the strength that the LORD gives us, by faith in the gospel. Armies that depend on their own strength, on weapons and strategies, prepare for war by making careful plans and gathering as many weapons and soldiers as they can get. But for God’s people, the war is already won. And getting ready for the battle is a matter of nourishing our faith. At that moment, and at that place, on the plains of Jericho, Israel said, We need to celebrate the Passover. Yes, God commanded us to celebrate it every year. But we’re going to celebrate the Passover because we need to go to war and fight to take possession of our inheritance. So we need to strengthen our faith by remembering what the LORD did for us when He brought us out of Egypt. That is, we receive the strength to stand in the battle against our spiritual enemies – by hearing the gospel, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper – so that we remember and believe what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by the work of the Holy Spirit, you will be strengthened for the fight against sin, the devil and his whole dominion when you hear the preaching of the gospel and participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 23 – Trust, and obey, for there’s no other way

“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” – Deuteronomy 30:6 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:1-9 We confess (Belgic Confession Article 34) that in circumcision, God taught Israel the same things He teaches us in our baptism. He said to them, You’re born sinners, but I promise that I will forgive your sins, when you repent and believe in the (foreshadowed) blood of Jesus Christ, and by grace, through faith, I will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love Me with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:6). That helps us to understand that when the LORD commanded Israel to circumcise their sons at Gilgal, He was not just saying, Look, it has been bothering Me for 38 years that your sons have not been circumcised, and we are going to get this fixed up before you take another step. God was saying, This is the answer to the question, How can people like you be My people, and receive the inheritance I promised you? That’s a very personal question, and we need to know the answer, too. How can I be God’s child? How am I going to make it all the way to the end? God says in His Word and in your baptism, You’ll make it by grace, through faith. I will do it. God puts an end to the doubts of our own souls by providing us with a salvation that is all His work, that is all by grace. All you need to do is trust, and obey. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe what God has promised you in the gospel, and confirmed in your baptism, that your sins are washed away in Christ, and that He is redeeming you from the power of sin. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 22 – He has rolled away the reproach of Egypt

“And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’” – Joshua 5:9 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:1-9 The LORD explained in verse 9 why He had commanded the Israelites to circumcise their sons at Gilgal: Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. What is the reproach of Egypt? Remember how Moses prayed to the LORD after Israel worshipped the golden calf. He said: “O Lord God, do not destroy Your people . . . lest the land from which You brought us say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness. For they are Your people and your heritage, whom You brought out by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 9:26-29). The unbelief and rebellion of Israel constantly brought God’s work of salvation into question. How can people like this be saved? How can people like this be God’s people, God’s beloved children? Our sin puts a question mark behind God’s promises. But God erases that question mark with the gospel: God saves sinners for the glory of His Name (Ephesians 1:3-14), and He has exalted His Name and His Word above all things (Psalm 138:2). Israel’s arrival in Canaan was never really in doubt. God vindicated His Name when He brought Israel through the Jordan on dry ground. He has staked the glory of His Name on your salvation; believe that He will bring you to Himself, through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank and praise God that He has chosen to glorify His Name in your salvation, and rejoice in the certainty that that gives you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 21 – First things first

“At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.’” – Joshua 5:2 Scripture reading: Joshua 5:1-9 If the people of Jericho could have seen what was going on in the Israelite camp, they would have been utterly confused. Because at that time the LORD said to Joshua, Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time. Why in the world would the LORD give that command at that time and place? The Holy Spirit says that for some reason, after the fiasco at Kadesh Barnea, when the people refused to enter the Promised Land, they stopped circumcising their sons. That was the fathers’ responsibility, but they had not done their duty. In verses 5-7, the Holy Spirit keeps talking about the old generation that had come out of Egypt. They were all circumcised. But it seems like God wants to convey the idea that the people who were camped there on the plains of Jericho were a new generation, or even, a new Israel, that God raised up in place of the generation that had come out of Egypt. Circumcision was a seal of the covenant and of the righteousness of faith. Israel had been changed, had been reborn, and had entered the promised land. As they began their new life, God commanded them to circumcise their sons, as a confirmation of His promises, of their identity as His holy people, and of their commitment to live in covenant fellowship with Him. In baptism, God still calls you as His holy people, to live in fellowship with Him by faith in His promises. Suggestions for prayer As you gather with God’s people to worship Him today, ask God to help you believe and to remember and live every day according to the holy identity that He has given you in Christ, that He signified and sealed to you in your baptism. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 20 – Brought from death to life

“About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho.” – Joshua 4:13 Scripture reading: Joshua 4:10b-14 By faith in the gospel that Joshua proclaimed, the people followed the ark of the LORD into the river, into death, and God brought them up out of the river, into the land of rest. Our Joshua says, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. That’s the gospel: by faith, you died, and you rose again, with Christ. That is what God promised you in your baptism, and what He says to you when you eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper. Do you not know, asks Paul in Romans 6, that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried, therefore, with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Israel passed over the Jordan, prepared for war, to claim the inheritance that God had given them. Paul says that’s what you have to do: consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus . . . present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life . . . sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace. That is God’s promise to you in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit’s help to live by faith in Jesus Christ, so that in your behavior, it becomes evident to God, to your neighbor and to yourself that you have died and been raised to life with Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 19 – A monument at Gilgal

“…the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:23, 24 Scripture reading: Joshua 4:19-24 Israel crossed the Jordan and encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. Joshua set up the twelve stones which they had taken out of the Jordan as a monument at Gilgal. And throughout the generations, parents would point at those stones, and explain the meaning of the stones. Pay careful attention to the way the parents had to explain to each new generation, what those twelve stones were all about. They had to tell them that the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever – as if the children had been there that day. In the unity of faith, they shared in the great miracle of salvation that God performed that day. What God did for Israel that day was a picture of what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, our Joshua. Just as the LORD went ahead of Israel into the river, He has gone ahead of us, into death and the grave. And when He raised Him from the dead, He exalted our Saviour in our eyes. He showed us, and all the peoples of the world, that Jesus is the only One Who saves from sin and death. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to keep your faith fixed on Jesus Christ, living in the knowledge that He has already won the victory by His death and resurrection. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 18 – The last enemy to be defeated

“… the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.” – Joshua 3:16 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:14-17 Israel was standing along the banks of the Jordan. Every eye was fixed on the ark, as the priests carried it, step by step, toward the river. (Don’t forget, dear readers, don’t forget, that the Jordan overflows all its banks, the narrow ones and the wider ones, all through the time of the harvest.) The tension was unbearable. Would the river really stop flowing? Or would it do what flooding rivers do, sweep those men off their feet, and carry them and the ark downstream and away? Of all things, says the Spirit, when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap – all the way back to Adam, more than thirty kilometers upstream. Where the river used to be, there was dry ground. And there was the ark, in the middle of the riverbed, a kilometer away. It was shining, gold and glittering in the sun, and it was all they saw. The Jordan River stood between Israel and her inheritance. It was the last great obstacle, the last enemy that stood between them and life in the Promised Land. If they had to cross it on their own, it would have swept them away. But God went into the river ahead of them; He was in the river with them. They weren’t afraid; God made it safe for them to pass through the river. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will face the struggles and the sorrows of life in confidence, knowing that God is with you and that He will never leave nor forsake you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 17 – All things must work together for your salvation

“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’” – Joshua 3:7 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:7-17 In a certain respect, the people of Israel had to believe in Joshua as the instrument of their salvation. That’s why the LORD said, Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. The LORD let Joshua announce what He was going to do, so that it looked almost as if Joshua made it happen. If the people tried to cross the Jordan River, it would swallow them up, and sweep them away. But the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, was going to enter the river ahead of them. The Holy Spirit uses the Name, Adonai – that means, the sovereign Ruler. Yahweh is Israel’s covenant God, and the Master of the creation. And Joshua said that the river is going to recognize Him, and what He is doing, bringing His chosen people into their inheritance. And it is going to submit to Him, and to His work of salvation. The waters will be cut off from flowing and stand in a heap. And that is exactly what happened. As soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the river simply disappeared. All Israel could see was the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence. And God showed them that under Joshua’s care and leadership, all things must work together for their salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you by His Word and Spirit to live and die in the comfort of knowing that all things must work together for your salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 16 – Consecrate yourselves

“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’” – Joshua 3:5 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:1-6 Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves because the LORD was going to do wonders among them. That meant that they had to wash, and put on clean clothes, and abstain from sexual relations. But consecration isn’t just a matter of doing those outward, symbolic things. God wanted them to do those things because He wanted them to be spiritually alert and open, to see and understand the wonders that He was about to do among them. You might wonder why they had to get ready for that. If God was going to do miracles, wouldn’t they be able to see that they were miracles? And wouldn’t they know, just from seeing what happened, that God had done it? But think about what happened when Jesus came. He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind and fed the crowds and He even raised the dead to life. But they crucified Him. Unbelief is stubborn. If your heart is not open, you cannot see what the Lord is doing, or hear what He is saying to you. So God wanted Israel to be in a frame of mind, spiritually, for what He was going to show them. We need to have this spiritual posture, of looking to the Lord with expectation, to see and receive His salvation. And we cultivate this attitude by consecrating ourselves. That means, seeing ourselves as we are, sinners who can only be saved by the wonder of God’s sovereign grace in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to be spiritually alert and open and expectant each time you read or hear the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 15 – Keep your eye on the ark

“As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” – Joshua 3:3, 4 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:1-13 After camping beside the river for three days, even the strongest believers would have been wondering how they were ever going get across it. The answer was, The ark of the covenant would lead them. The ark of the covenant was that golden chest that was in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle, and it was a symbol that promised Israel that God was with them. The people were going to see the ark of the covenant. That never happened. The only person who was ever allowed to see the ark was the high priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement. Whenever Israel moved from one place to the other in the wilderness, the ark was covered up, because it was holy, and the people weren’t allowed to see it. The ark was going ahead of Israel, the way it did when it led them away from Mt. Sinai, in the direction of the Promised Land. And the LORD wanted them to be able to see it. They had to stay a kilometer away from the ark, so that they could see it, so that they would know the way they had to go, because they had never passed that way before. The Bible says, The ark did this, and the ark did that. But what it really means is, God did this, and God did that. That’s the gospel here: God Himself went ahead of them and led them into the Promised Land. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be convinced and that you would remember that God is with you, so that you can be sure that God will guide you and all of His people until the day of final victory. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 14 – Do not fear; only believe

“Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.” – Joshua 3:1 Scripture reading: Joshua 3:1-6 The morning after he got the report from the spies who had gone to Jericho, Joshua got up early, and the people set out from Shittim. In other words, he was in a hurry to get going. But when they came to the Jordan, they camped there for three days. Why would they do that? Why get up and get started early in the morning, and then camp for three days beside the Jordan? It was springtime; the snow in the mountains had melted, and the river was running high and fast. And God let them sit there for three days, with that river standing between them and the promised land, because He wanted every man, woman and child in Israel to see that with all those people, young and old and weak and strong, with their cattle and all their possessions, they were never going to get across the river. So that every one of them would have been wondering, How in the world are we ever going to do this? The raging river was an obstacle that stood between them and the promised land, barring the way. There was only one way they would ever cross that river: by grace, through faith. They had to look up and pray for the salvation that God had promised them. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) God’s word to Israel, and to us is, “Do not fear; only believe.” (Luke 8:50) Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your faith in the things that are unseen and eternal, so that you are not intimidated or discouraged by the brokenness and injustice that you see in this world. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 13 – Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

“…as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” – Joshua 2:11-13 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-21 The whole story of Rahab glows with one theme: salvation is from the LORD. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Martin Luther’s eyes were opened when he recognized that, in the words of Galatians 3:11: The righteous shall live by faith. That’s the message that shines from the story of Rahab. She was as lost as a person can be. Most of us would never have spoken a word to her, never had a thought or a care about her. But God knew her. And she belonged to Him. At a certain moment, there in the city of Jericho in the land of Canaan, He called her. She heard the gospel of Yahweh in those reports about what He did at the Red Sea, and what He did to Sihon and Og. She repented and believed. Christ gathered her with His people; Matthew tells us that she became one of His mothers. And she serves, for Israel then and still for us today, as a testimony to the sovereign grace and saving power of God. If she can be saved, anyone can be saved. Even you; even me. There is no one whose sin is too great to be forgiven, whose sin is too great to be forgiven by grace, through faith, in Christ. That’s the gospel to us, in our sin. That’s the gospel that we can proclaim to our children, and to our neighbors. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would open the hearts of your co-workers, neighbors and unbelieving family members, so that they would be ready to hear and believe the gospel when you speak with them about life in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 12 – The scarlet cord

“And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” – Joshua 2:21 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-21 People wonder about the meaning of that scarlet cord that Rahab hung out of her window. The Holy Spirit mentions the colour, so it has to mean something. But what does it mean? Some say, Scarlet is the colour of blood, so it must be a symbol of the blood of Christ. And it means that Rahab was saved by the blood of Christ. But in the Bible, scarlet is also the colour of sin (Isaiah 1:18). And scarlet is also associated with prostitution (Jeremiah 4:30; Revelation 17:3,4). Apparently, in those days and in that part of the world, prostitutes would hang a scarlet cord out of their window, so that the men who passed by would know where to find them. Rahab used to hang that scarlet cord out the front window of her house; it identified her as a prostitute. It was a symbol of her shameful life. But after she professed faith in Israel’s God, the spies told her, Take that scarlet cord, that used to identify you as a prostitute, and hang it out the back window, as a testimony to your new identity in Christ. Hang it out the back window, and let it serve now as your public profession of faith in our God. That’s what she did. And the scarlet cord which had once testified to her lostness and her shame was transformed; it became a sign of her righteousness and salvation. And a great encouragement to the people of Israel. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His sovereign love and grace, extended to you, even though you are completely undeserving. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 11 – The battle belongs to the Lord

“…we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:10, 11 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-14 Paul says in Romans 10, Faith comes from what is heard. Rahab heard what Yahweh had done, and she believed in Him. She called Him, Yahweh. That’s the covenant Name of God. She said, I know that Yahweh has given you the land. In fact, Rahab said, Everyone in Jericho, everyone in Canaan, is afraid of you. Because we’ve heard what your God has done for you. It’s all anyone can talk about. Think about her faith, and Canaan’s fear of God, and compare it to the way Israel behaved. Israel saw what God had done, but they grumbled and complained and doubted. Rahab and the Canaanites had heard what God had done, and they knew what He could do. Rahab said, As soon as we heard about what you did to Sihon and Og, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. This is the gospel of the conquest of the Promised Land. Before a single soldier had set foot in the land, before a single Israelite arrow was shot or spear was thrown, God had given the land of Canaan to Israel. And this is the gospel of our inheritance. Yes, there are enemies, and you have to fight; you have to stand. But in Christ, the LORD has gone before us and defeated our enemies. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to believe that your sworn enemies – the devil, the world and your own flesh – are defeated in Christ, and pray that His victory would be displayed clearly in your confession and life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 10 – Rahab the prostitute

“And she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.’” – Joshua 2:4b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-7 The people of Jericho knew that Israel was camped just on the other side of the river, so they were keeping a close eye on any strangers that came to their city. When they figured out who these men were who had gone to Rahab’s house, they went straight to the king and told him. Somehow, Rahab found out that the soldiers were on their way, and she hid the two spies before they got there. She admitted that the men had come to her house, but she said, “I did not know where they were from. They left Jericho just before the city gates were closed, but if you pursue them quickly, you will overtake them.” She lied. Was that right? We get hung up on that question. But the Bible says that Rahab was acting out of faith. In Hebrews 11, the Holy Spirit puts Rahab in the same category as Abel and Enoch and Abraham, and all the “heroes of faith” that He mentions in that chapter. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” James 2 says, “Rahab the prostitute was justified when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.” The Holy Spirit highlights the faith of this Canaanite prostitute, as the sovereign and gracious work of God. It was a sign for Israel, that He had gone before them, and would give Jericho into their hands. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be encouraged by the knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is right now gathering God’s elect from every nation, and joining them by faith to His body, to be your brothers and sisters in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 9 – Commitment to exercise Church discipline

“Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.” – Joshua 1:18 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 Israel had shown herself to be a stubborn and rebellious people. But here, on the doorstep of Canaan, they made an absolute commitment to obey Joshua. And they promised, “Whoever rebels against your commandment, and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.”This has to do with who Israel is, as God’s people. That means, it has to do with us, and who we are. God had spelled out how Israel would receive their inheritance. In a certain way, they had to believe in Joshua. He was their appointed leader, and they had to trust him, and obey him. This is why they promised to put to death whoever rebelled against his commandment or disobeyed his words. Because disobedience was unbelief. Rebelling against Joshua and disobeying his commandment was rejecting the promise of the gospel, and refusing to live by faith. So, those who rebelled against Joshua, and disobeyed his commandment showed that they didn’t belong to the people of God. The church is finally the body of believers, of all those who are hungering and thirsting for salvation in Jesus Christ. And anyone who rebels against the Word of Jesus Christ, who disobeys His commandment, is rejecting the gospel, and refusing to live by faith in Christ. He or she forfeits the right to be included among His people. Our commitment to exercise church discipline is an expression of our loyalty to Christ, and our desire for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will keep you from falling away from Christ and that He will bless the work of believers and of the elders as your church exercises mutual and official church discipline. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Commitment to the unity of faith

“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, ‘Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.” Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them.’” – Joshua 1:12-15a Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 When Moses gave the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:28-32), they promised that they would send their soldiers to fight alongside their brother Israelites. Humanly speaking, the bigger your army, the better. But time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses told Israel that the LORD would be fighting for them. So Israel didn’t need a big army. They didn’t need any help from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. So why did the two-and-a-half tribes have to send soldiers to fight along with the rest of Israel? This is about the unity that’s created among God’s people by faith in the gospel. Think about what’s going on here; think about it in the light of the New Testament. Israel is an Old Testament picture of the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were about to receive their inheritance. We confess that we believe and profess one catholic or universal church, which is a holy congregation and assembly of the true Christian believers, who expect their entire salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s who the church is. And this is what that looks like in Joshua 1: a congregation of people who were expecting their salvation in Joshua. Joshua is saying, Every Israelite must do all that he can to make sure that every one of his fellow Israelites receives his inheritance. That’s what our Joshua says, too. That’s the demand and the purpose of our unity in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, to deepen your love and your commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray and to work out their salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 7 – Only believe

“Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’” – Joshua 1:11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 The people were excited about finally entering the Promised Land. But they could see the Jordan River. They knew about the giants and they knew about the fortified cities. So they must have had questions about how this was all going to go. But Joshua didn’t give them a big long explanation of how they were going to get themselves and all their cattle and all the rest across the river; he didn’t explain how he planned to defeat the Canaanites. He just announced that within three days, they were going to cross the river, and take possession of the land. And he told them to get ready. Getting ready was an act of faith. Getting ready means, I believe the promise. This is the gospel, and this is how the gospel comes to us in worship today. Jesus comes and He simply announces God’s gift of salvation. He says to us, for example, in John 5:19: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Jesus doesn’t explain there how He’s going to bring us from death to life. He just says that He will. And then He says, Believe. The gospel is: Salvation is from the LORD. Don’t ask all kinds of questions. Only believe, and do what Jesus tells you to do because He promised you, and it’s going to happen. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you today, as you hear the gospel preached to you, to simply believe the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 6 – Israel’s savior was careful to do what God commanded him

“And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” – Joshua 1:10-11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 God told Joshua that Israel’s salvation depended on his obedience (Joshua 1:7-8). And the Holy Spirit wants us to know that Joshua was obedient. Right after He recorded the charge that Joshua received from the LORD, He tells us that Joshua commanded the officers of the people to tell Israel to get ready to enter Canaan. It says that Joshua told Israel that they were going to pass over the Jordan and take possession of the land within three days. But when you compare that with the story of the spies that Joshua sent to Canaan, in the next chapter, you’ll recognize that Joshua probably sent the spies to Jericho before he gave Israel the command to get ready. What do we make of that? Is it a mistake in the Bible? Is the Holy Spirit misleading us? We have to remember that the book of Joshua is prophecy. The purpose of this book is to tell the story of God’s work for the salvation of His people. God had made it clear that Israel would only inherit the land if Joshua was obedient. And the Spirit says, Praise God! Joshua, the instrument of Israel’s salvation, was careful to do exactly what God commanded him to do! The Holy Spirit has given us the New Testament gospels for the very same reason: they are the record of our Savior’s perfect obedience, and they are the foundation of our faith in Him to be our perfect Savior. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Word, and in particular, for the gospels’ record of Christ’s obedience, and ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you in faith through His Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 5 – Salvation through the obedience of the Savior

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” – Joshua 1:7-8 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Three times, the LORD told Joshua to be strong and courageous. In verses 7 and 8, He followed that charge with a command, to obey the law and to meditate on it day and night. He used the word, torah, which means, instruction. It includes the law, but it also includes covenant history. God joined His promise to His commands: Then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success. When Joshua faced the fortified cities of Canaan, he would be tempted to believe that victory depended on his strategy, or on Israel’s military power. So God commanded him to meditate on His torah, to bolster his faith. In effect, He said, Read My Word with deep concentration; read it to yourself; and believe that it is for you. Then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. In other words, The salvation of My people depends on your faith and your obedience, Joshua. This is what He demanded of our Savior. And this is the gospel: He was perfectly obedient. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Yeshua, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11) Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, Who lived a righteous life in your place, and poured out His blood to pay for your sin. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 4 – Only be strong and courageous

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous. – Joshua 1:6-7a Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 God gave Joshua an impossible task: “...you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua’s experience as Moses’ assistant had equipped him for this tremendous responsibility. He had become a wise leader and a skillful general. But the heart of Joshua’s preparation to be Israel’s savior was witnessing first-hand how the LORD was with Moses and empowered him to win victories, to bring plagues, to open the Red Sea, to give the people manna and water from the rock. The LORD called Joshua to lead Israel in war. He was their general. But the LORD didn’t say, Study the geography; make sure you know all the strengths and the weaknesses of the nations that you’re going to go up against. He said, Joshua, this is My promise: You shall cause this people to inherit this land. Yes, this weak and fearful and thankless people! And those fortified cities that you see out there, and those giants that you saw when you spied out the land forty years ago, will not be able to stand against you. God only put one condition on His promise, the condition of faith and obedience: Only be strong and courageous. This is the heart of his responsibility and the key to his success as Israel’s savior. Just like it was for our Joshua, Who by His faith and obedience caused us to inherit the land and the life God has sworn to give us. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God that by grace, through faith, you are a child of God for Christ’s sake and a fellow heir with Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 3 – Immanuel is our comfort

“Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” – Joshua 1:2b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 It sounds as if the LORD was standing with Joshua, at a place where the whole land was spread out before them. And the LORD says, It’s all yours: every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you. God says it three times, in verses 2, 3 and 6. There it is. You only have to go and take it. Moses says in Deuteronomy 8 that Canaan was a paradise. There was plenty of water, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees and pomegranates and olive trees; there would be honey, and they would eat bread without scarcity. They would lack nothing. The stones were iron, and they could dig copper out of its hills. But the Jordan was at flood stage, running high and fast, overflowing its banks. And Joshua remembered the fortified cities and giants that were waiting for them. So, the promise was wonderful, but the idea of entering Canaan was intimidating. The LORD knew that Joshua needed encouragement. He said, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you.”That’s how we know that we will receive the inheritance that God has promised us: we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:13,14). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, and pray that more and more, by His work, you may be confident of your inheritance in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 2 – Not even Moses could save them

“Moses My servant is dead.” – Joshua 1:2 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Moses’ name is mentioned three times in the first sentence of the book. He was the only leader the people had ever known. He had met with God and talked with Him, face to face. He had brought the good news of freedom from slavery in Egypt and he was God’s instrument of salvation, at the Red Sea and the entire way through the wilderness. And now he was gone. Israel had finally reached their destination, but after all the sorrows and frustrations of leading those thankless people through the wilderness, God wouldn’t let him enter Canaan. Yes, he had sinned. At Meribah, Moses made the worst mistake he could have made as a mediator. God wanted to show Israel His mercy and patience, but Moses was angry, and he misrepresented God. But Psalm 106:32,33 says that Israel angered God at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. The people were impossible. They were unsavable. Just like we are. That’s always the great obstacle to our salvation. Who can save us from our slavery to sin, and make us inherit eternal life? Jesus said, With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)That’s the answer: only God can save us. And in the name of Joshua, God promised Israel, and He promises us, that He will save us. Remember and believe: salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Confess that you and your sin are the greatest obstacles to your salvation, and thank God that your salvation is from the LORD. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction

How do we approach the book of Joshua, the story of the conquest of the promised land, the story of this great leader of Israel? The book is named after him, and his name is on every page.  He’s meant to be central in the story. His parents had called him, Hoshea.  Hoshea means, salvation.  But when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea along with eleven other men, he changed his name to Joshua.  Joshua means, salvation is from the LORD. That’s a promise; in fact, that’s the gospel.  And when the Lord sent His own Son into the world, He told Joseph and Mary to give Him that name, too. We think of Joshua as a history book.  But when the people of the old covenant described their Bible, there was no section called history books.  For them, it was simply, the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, or maybe, the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, or the Writings. And they put Joshua into the section called, the Prophets. That’s how we have to understand the message of Joshua: salvation prophecy.  Biblically speaking, prophecy means, in the first place, telling the wonderful works of God to save His people, because God’s actions in the past shed light on the future, and how God is going to save His people in Jesus Christ.  So this book is the gospel of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Joshua, and the gospel of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has defeated our enemies and causes us to receive the greater inheritance of a new heaven and a new earth. How can we be saved? Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 There’s a lot of tension hanging over this opening passage of the book of Joshua.  In Genesis 13, the LORD promised Abraham that He would make his offspring as the dust of the earth and that He would give them the land of Canaan as their inheritance. 400 years later, Abraham’s offspring had become a nation that was growing in number, just like God had promised.  But the promise of the land was still unfulfilled.  Israel was standing on the border of the land at that moment.  If they climbed up one of the hills in the area, they could see the whole land, from north to south, and all the way out to the west, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. But they had been this close once before, forty years earlier, at Kadesh-Barnea.  That time, when they heard about the people who lived there and the fortified cities, they were afraid, and they started looking for someone to bring them back to Egypt.  What reason did Joshua have to think that this time things would go better than they had the first time?  The journey through the wilderness showed that Israel was an unbelieving, thankless, complaining people. There was no way that Israel would ever enter the land, and receive the inheritance God had promised them unless it was by grace and unless God did it for them.  And that was the gospel He proclaimed to them in the name of their leader: Joshua – salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer   Thank God that He has provided us with a salvation that is all His work, and that we receive by grace through faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....