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Daily devotional

December 27 – Christmas decoration

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. – Isaiah 53:2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 Many homes and churches are decorated at Christmas with beautiful plants. Poinsettias are pretty and popular. Christmas trees fill the air with fragrance. Are such decorative plants mentioned in the Bible? You know that the answer is “no.” The prophet Isaiah, however, does mention a plant in connection with the coming Messiah, The plant is not named. It is only described in our text as a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground. Through the words He gave to the prophet, God is teaching us that the birth of His Son was the start of the struggle of His ministry, the way a young plant struggles in dry ground. The beauty of Jesus Christ in His person and ministry was not outward. His was an inward beauty of soul, a majesty of the spirit. By earthly standards there was nothing to attract people to the Lord Jesus. Two days ago we celebrated Christmas. Who is Christ to you? What attracts you to Him? The glitter of Christmas decorations and majestic music bring some to a once-a-year service, but now that is over. For Christians, however, the true and lasting “decoration” at Christmas, spiritually speaking, is a struggling young plant, a root out of dry ground. It represents the suffering of the Lord, His humility, His willingness to offer Himself as our sacrifice. Jesus has come! Make sure that above all else you desire Him. May He alone be the focus of your heart and soul at worship this Lord's Day. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to work in the hearts of those who attended a Christmas service that they may respond to the Gospel. Give thanks for churches that focus on Christ and not on decorations. Be a living member of such a church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 26 – Jesus, our Emmanuel

... and they shall call his name Emmanuel (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23b Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 When babies are born they need to be given a name. Some parents choose a family name, a Bible name, or just some name they happen to like. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was different. Joseph already knew the name the Child was to receive. That name was “Jesus,” which means saviour. Yet, this holy Child received another name too, Emmanuel, according to the prophecy that God had given to Isaiah centuries before. It is a name which means “God with us.” Yesterday, we celebrated the birth of our Emmanuel. He entered this world as God come down to us. The Saviour joined himself to His creatures, who needed Him. This is the miracle we celebrate at Christmas. With joy, we acknowledge that we have a divine Saviour Who knows us and sympathizes with us because He shared life with us. He shared fully in our human existence. All this is true not just for the years long ago when Christ walked this earth. It is true today. The fact has not changed. Our Lord and Saviour is “God with us.” He is with us, with you and me, to forgive us, to encourage us, to listen to our prayers, to care for us, and to comfort us. The Gospel tells us that the baby born in Bethlehem, the son of Mary and the Son of God, is God with us. He came to bless us and save us. May that be for you the lasting message of Christmas, a treasure in your heart. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that you and those around you will know by faith the great, lasting comfort we have in believing that Jesus is our Emmanuel. Pray that others will come to know Him too. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 25 – Joyful at Christmas

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-14 On Christmas Day our hearts should be ready to receive a full, overflowing experience of JOY. That was the angels' message. God sent His Son to save His people. What could be more joyful news than that? May this news of hope, of God's plan of salvation, bring joy to your heart today and in all the days to come! It is news for all the people. You can share that joy. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, all those who come to the Lord in humble faith are welcome to share this joy, because according to the plan of God, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ has gone out and is going out to all the peoples of the world. Humbly respond to the Spirit's call to faith and you also will share in the blessed joy which fills the hearts of God's people today. The angels' message declares, "Fear not!" In a world filled with perils, terrorist violence, disease, pain and death, how is it possible to live without fear? We Christians can live with joy in our hearts, with confidence in God's care because we have heard and believed the Good News. True, lasting joy comes, not with a pile of presents, not with decorations, not with big dinners, but the real joy of Christmas was revealed by the angels, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Let the good news of the Saviour's birth fill your heart with lasting joy. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the glad tidings of Christmas will fill your heart with joy. Ask the Lord to help you share that joy with others around you. Pray for the cause of missions, so that the message of salvation will go out to all the peoples. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 24 – The Christmas sun

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. – Malachi 4:2 Scripture reading: Malachi 4 Spiritually, the human race is in darkness. Sin has darkened human understanding and, by nature, people do not recognize God or respect His law. Yet, God is gracious and merciful. On the first Christmas, when the Virgin Mary brought forth her Son, the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 was fulfilled. The dark night of sin was pierced by shining rays of heavenly light. Jesus, the Sun of righteousness was born. His divine light dispels the ugly darkness of sin. Just as exposure to sunshine is needed for our physical health, so we need the Sun of righteousness to shine upon us for our spiritual health, even as the prophet declared that the Messiah shall rise with healing in its wings. By His birth, ministry, death and resurrection, Jesus heals the souls of His people. He gives light and life. May your soul feel that healing power! However, the joyous sunshine of Christ's presence is only received by those who fear my name. As you prepare for Christmas celebrations of tomorrow, are you among that number? Is your heart filled with reverence for God and gratitude for all He has done? It is only those who kneel before the Lord in faith, who will feel the warmth of the Sun of righteousness. May Jesus, that Sun, dispel the darkness of your sin and heal the brokenness of your heart and life, so that Christmas Day will be bright with the Light of the World, Jesus, the Sun shining upon your soul and filling your life with His great light. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you see your need of light in the darkness of this sinful world. Pray for wisdom to seek the light of the Sun of righteousness. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 23 – The day of the righteous branch

...I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he will reign as king and deal wisely....And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” – Jeremiah 23:5,6 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8 In His human nature, Jesus is a descendant of David. He is David's heir, the true king of God's people. So many earthly kings, including many of those following after David, were evil. Our Lord Jesus, however, was born the righteous One. He is the King of the church even now and rules with justice. In His eternal kingdom, we believers will enjoy salvation and security, peace and happiness, forever under His gracious rule. By the Spirit's inspiration, Jeremiah revealed that the Messiah, David's holy descendant, would bear a marvellous name, the Lord is our righteousness. Jesus was born to be our righteousness. Our Saviour provides every believer with a standing before God. Because He covers our sins with His perfect sacrifice, the crushing burden of our sin and shame is lifted. We are made right with God now and always. At this Christmas season there is much celebrating. So many enjoy dinners and parties. There are all kinds of sentimental movies on TV about Santa and, sadly, that's what secular people think Christmas is all about. It's not. We Christians, however, know the truth. We celebrate the birth of our glorious King. Jesus was born to rule over us now and always. He is the righteous Branch, the One Who provides salvation for His people, who are clothed in His perfect righteousness. May this truth be the centre of your celebration. Christmas is the Day of the Righteous Branch. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to fill your heart with gratitude for sending His Son to be the Righteous Branch for you. Pray for God's Kingdom on earth, the church, that she may faithfully submit to His rule in all things. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 22 – What child is this?

...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 God gave Isaiah a marvellous revelation about the Son He would send and did send in the fullness of time. What Child is this? He is the Wonderful Counsellor. A counsellor is to reconcile people, help settle differences, go between and draw people together. Jesus reconciles a lost humanity to the Father in heaven. He is our mediator and draws us into a blessed fellowship with the Lord (Romans 5). Even now He intercedes for us. He was born to be our Wonderful Counsellor. He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting (Son of the) Father. At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born a helpless babe in Bethlehem's stall. He shared the physical weakness of our humanity. Yet, Jesus is also the Son of God. It was only with divine power that Jesus could carry the wrath of God against sin through His life of suffering and especially at the cross. What Child is this? He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father's only begotten Son. He is the Prince of Peace. As the Son of God, Christ rules, governs and sustains all things. In the midst of a troubled world, He gives us the inner peace we desperately need. In the midst of our own personal cares and worries, He speaks to our hearts saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). What Child is this? He is the Prince of Peace. As you look forward to Christmas, ask yourself, "Whose birth am I celebrating? What Child is this... to me?” Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom to see with eyes of faith Whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the good news of Christ with others around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 21 – The purpose of Christmas

...emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.... therefore God has highly exalted him.... – Philippians 2:7-9 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 What is the purpose of Christmas? To stimulate the economy? To have a few days off at the end of the year? A good excuse for parties? Such would be the secular perspective. The Bible, however, states clearly a far different purpose. God sent His eternal Son into this world so that Jesus would fully share our humanity. It was a humbling experience for the Son of God. He emptied Himself. He was born in a stable. He came into this world as the Suffering Servant of the Lord. This was necessary. Our Saviour had to experience the full burden of human existence in order to be our perfect sacrifice. The result of all this, however, was amazing! Having accomplished His earthly ministry and having won salvation for us by His death and resurrection, now God has highly exalted him. The Saviour, Who first came into this world so humbly, is now at the Father's right hand. He is now in glory and He will return in majesty to judge the living and the dead. His ministry, which began in humility, will culminate in glory and honour. God grant that we, with all God's people, will reflect upon and believe the real purpose of Christmas. That purpose is to point us to the fullness of Jesus' work and ministry. It began with the Son of God emptying Himself in Bethlehem, taking the form of a servant in order to win our salvation. It will be fulfilled at Jesus' glorious return. Suggestions for prayer May it be the prayer of your heart that Jesus will return to us quickly. Ask the Lord to make the true purpose of Christmas known to you and those around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 20 – Jesus, the Man of Heaven

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. – I Corinthians 15:49 Scripture reading: I Corinthians 15:42-58 As we worship the Lord in church today, whom do we hope to meet? No doubt many a sermon will be preached on the incarnation and that is most appropriate. There is no end to blessing when we reflect on the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Still, the fact is that Jesus is no longer and has not been for nearly two millennia, a baby lying in a manger. Today at church we are to have sweet fellowship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord's Day is the Day of Resurrection. Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate, rose from the dead. The crucified One is the Lord of life. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the Father's right hand. That is Who we meet at worship, the man of heaven. What a blessing! We children of Adam and Eve, have in Christ a most wonderful future. In glory we shall bear the image of God, restored and made perfect. May our faithful worship, our careful listening to the Word of God read and preached, bring to our souls all the riches of the full Gospel story. Christ was born to be the Lord of life. By accomplishing His ministry, Jesus, the risen Lord, won for us the victory! Let us now seek to bear the image of the man of heaven. We do so by living a Christian life, as we follow our Master and serve Him now and for all eternity. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by worshipping the Lord today your heart will be filled with the joy and hope that those who believe receive from the risen Lord. Ask the Spirit to work within you that you may more and more bear the image of the man of heaven. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 19 – Christ’s suffering

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. – I Peter 4:1 Scripture reading: I Peter 4:1-11 For most people, Christmas is a happy time of year. Yes, there are those who are lonely, struggling or sad, but for the majority it would seem to be a festive, joyful season. Secular people are happy with their parties and presents. Christians find joy in the Gospel message of peace on earth; good will towards men (Luke 2:14). Today let us give a thought for the Lord Jesus Himself. He was born to be the Lord's suffering servant. His task was to carry our sin all the way to the cross, where He died in agony, the righteous for the unrighteous. The Apostle Peter calls this to our attention in our text, where his inspired words declare, "Christ suffered in the flesh." The holy Son of God took on human flesh in order to suffer for us in the flesh. Now the Apostle calls upon you to live as a Christian, as one who by faith has ceased from the condemnation of sin, by sharing the same way of thinking. We are to live a sacrificial life for Christ, Who suffered so to redeem us. Let us come to Christ, who suffered as the Lamb of God and let us have in our hearts the desire and intention to follow Him in a life of sacrifice, so that we can sing with the hymn writer Charlotte Elliot: Just as I am: poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind Yea all I need, in Thee to find O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal to you more and more the ways in which you can, in thankfulness, offer to Him your whole self as a sacrifice of praise. Offer a prayer of gratitude to the Saviour, Who suffered so to save you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 18 – Christ, our King

...there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 Scripture reading: Daniel 7:1-14 The child, so humbly born in Bethlehem, is our king! The wise men recognized this and Herod feared this. Christians rejoice in this. Though this world is in rebellion against Christ and the powers of this world rage against the Lord, His kingdom and His people, nevertheless, in fulfillment of this prophecy given to Daniel, the Lord Jesus, having accomplished His ministry, now reigns in heaven. He rules His church and the day shall come when every knee will bow to Him in heaven and on earth. For God's Old Testament people, in Babylonian exile, the future kingdom of the Son of Man was a shining beacon giving hope to Daniel and all those who looked ahead to the coming of the Messiah. By faith, Daniel's hope was in his kingly Saviour. In these often violent and difficult days in which we live, may our hope be in Christ, our King, Who sits on heaven's throne at the right hand of God the Father. He will return, as He promised, and bring in the glorious fullness of His Kingdom. Jesus was born to be our King. To Him belong dominion, glory and an eternal kingdom. What joy this truth brings to our hearts! When by God's election we are called to be servants of the King, we gain a wonderful confidence. Jesus rules. Jesus leads. May our hearts be filled with hope. Trust the prophetic promise. The child who came into this world in Bethlehem's stall will return with power and glory to usher in His everlasting kingdom! Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus be the king of your heart and life. Ask the Lord to show you ways in which even now you can do your part as His servant in building up His kingdom on earth, the church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 17 – Christ, our priest

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned- every one- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 According to the command of God, Old Testament priests offered sacrifices, symbols of the need to atone for sin that so offended the Lord. All fallen humanity has sinned; now something must be given to cleanse us before we appear at the judgment throne of God. A priest, an intercessor, is needed to offer such a sacrifice. Who is that priest? What is the sacrifice that God accepts? The animal sacrifices of Old Testament times, offered up by Aaron and his descendants, could not atone for sin. They were symbols of what was needed. The Christmas account marks the start of God's great work, sending His Son into this world to be our great High Priest, our Intercessor, and the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). God Himself provided the priest and the sacrifice, His beloved Son. If the world around us gives a thought to Jesus at Christmas, it is one of cloying sentimentality. All it sees is a cute baby, as pictured on so many Christmas cards. Christians, however, know that Jesus was born to be our great High Priest. His task was to offer to God the Father the perfect, atoning sacrifice, His body and blood upon the cross. We need no earthly priest like the Israelites of old. We need no further sacrifices, because Jesus paid it all at the cross. God grant us faith to lovingly appreciate the redeeming work of Jesus, since through His sacrifice we are saved. Suggestions for prayer Seek the Lord's pardon with a prayer of confession and of trust in the cleansing power of Jesus' sacrifice. Pray for the conversion of those who think earthly priests can still intercede for them. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 16 – Christ, our prophet

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. – Deuteronomy 18:18 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-22 At Christmas, our thoughts naturally turn to the miracle of God's Son, born of the Virgin Mary, an infant lying in a manger. This, however, is but the start of Jesus' earthly ministry. We rightly celebrate His birth, but we must not neglect to meditate upon the whole of His ministry. He was born to be our chief prophet, in fulfillment of the prophecy given in Deuteronomy 18. In His prophetic office, Jesus fulfills the Scripture. God's people need a prophet because we need a message from the Lord.  A prophet's task is to bring God's people the Word of the Lord. That Word is the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Son of Man, Jesus was like us, His brothers, sin excepted. He shared our human experience and anointed by the Spirit, He proclaimed the message of salvation, which is our great need as fallen human beings. The child born in Bethlehem was sent by the Father to preach the good news. No wonder so many in His own day were amazed at the power and authority of His message. Today, our souls are transformed by His powerful Gospel. Be reminded at this season that God sent His only begotten Son to be our chief prophet. His message is for us, you and me, His brothers. It is exactly what we need, the good news of redemption through His birth, death and resurrection. Believe His message! Seek none other. His Word, that Gospel of salvation, stands firm forever. Let us praise God for that. Suggestions for prayer Pray for an increase of faith to believe fully and sincerely the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for wisdom to live out that faith today and every day. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 15 – Jesus saves

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12 Scripture reading: Acts 4:1-12  If an unbelieving neighbour said to you, “I'm thinking about going to church for a Christmas service, but before I go, I'd like to know what is the basic belief you Christians hold?” What would you say? If you answered, “Jesus saves!” you would have answered rightly. You would be following the example of the Apostle Peter in our text. In today's world, there are many misunderstandings about Christmas. To celebrate a merely secular Christmas is a tragic mistake of eternal dimensions. To concentrate on parties and presents instead of the gift of God is foolishness. To focus solely in a sentimental way on the infant Jesus, lying in a manger in Bethlehem, is also to misunderstand God's plan and purpose. God the Father sent His Son to save us from our sins. God the Holy Spirit caused the miracle of the virgin birth to save us from our sins. At Christmas, Christians acknowledge the full work of God in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us. Christmas is the start of the entire Gospel story. Rejoice in the glad tidings of Christmas! There is hope for us sinners. Even though in ourselves we are unworthy and cannot earn our own salvation, God has provided for us. In our text the Apostle says, "We must be saved." Indeed, we must, or else we will be lost for eternity. Well then, are you saved? Those who are saved have faith in Jesus, Whose very name means “saviour,” and in Him, in His precious name, there is salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask God for grace to understand and believe the fullness of the Christmas message that in the name of Jesus we are saved. Pray for wisdom to connect the Christmas account with the entire Gospel message. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 14 – Refusing Christ, refusing life

Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:40 Scripture reading: John 5:30-47 Christmas is a time of year when many, who rarely darken the door of a church, will attend a special program or service. Although the number of outright skeptics, unbelievers and atheists grows ever larger in the western world, there are still many who think that a once-a-year appearance in church at Christmas is more than enough to satisfy their religious obligations. They come to church, but do not come to Jesus in faith and obedience. Most of us, I hope, were in church yesterday. Is there a warning that we religious people should take from our text? Yes. We can be outwardly religious: attending church services, living a moral life, even reading a daily devotional at home and yet we can be in spiritual danger if in our heart we refuse to come to Christ in sincere, humble faith. How can we get that faith? How can we build it up? We must come to Jesus through the means He has given us. We must search the Scriptures, studying the Bible with a believing heart. We must take to heart what we hear proclaimed from the pulpit by faithful ministers of the Word. To know a bit about the message of the Scriptures, but not to know the Christ revealed by the Scriptures is fatal. Many may attend a Christmas program, but not come to Christ in faith. Let us personally and at church search the Scriptures, believe the message and receive the blessing of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that, by careful use of the means of grace and by faithful personal devotions, you will come to faith in Jesus Christ and that your faith may grow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 13 – Powerful trust

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. – Psalm 20:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 20 Whom do you trust? This morning, as you drive to church, many of you will drive through a green light without a second thought because you trust that others will stop at the red light on the cross street. David knew that many of his enemies trusted in the power of chariots and horses to gain a victory. Things don't always work out that way. Careless drivers go through a red light and cause a crash. Military leaders trust in the latest technology, but that does not guarantee a victory. As a believer, David could declare by the Spirit's inspiration, "We trust in the name of the Lord our God." May that declaration be ours also! Today at worship, we will take the name of the Lord upon our lips as we sing and pray. We will hear a sermon in which the name of the Lord will be spoken. God grant that it be no empty formality. May it be a real expression of our trust. Just before Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). A wholehearted faith in Jesus is the most powerful trust you can have because Jesus is the only Saviour. In Him we find all things necessary for our salvation. The Son of God alone is faithful and able to protect us, surround us with divine care, bestow forgiveness and eternal life. Yes! Trust in Jesus is the most powerful trust of all. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to bless you and those who worship with you today with increasing trust in the Saviour, Whom He sent into the world, Jesus. Pray for a blessing upon the preaching of the Word. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 12 – The Christmas witness

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. – Luke 2:20 Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-20 If the angels had never appeared, if no message had been given, the shepherds would have just stayed with their sheep out in the hills. They would never have realized the miracle that took place in the City of David that night. By the plan and providence of God, however, the shepherds were chosen to hear the message and they shared in the Christmas event because God's message was revealed to them. After witnessing all that took place, the shepherds returned to their task; they went back to their flocks. Here is a lesson for us. After all the celebrations of this season, at last, we will go back to our usual tasks and activities. How will we go? The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. The shepherds reacted to what they had witnessed with joy and praise. What a wonderful testimony! At the close of the Christmas season, after attending worship and special services, we will be truly blessed if we return to our daily work with a similar response. When we take God at His Word, believe the Christmas message and give God the glory, we will be blessed. May that be your response. What a witness that gives to your family, friends and neighbours! Praise the Lord with your lips and lives, as you return to your daily tasks, to your calling and right there, where God has placed you, be a witness by glorifying and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born to be our Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the joy of the Christmas message will be lasting in your heart and life. Ask the Lord to guide your celebrations in such a way that they will be a witness for Christ Jesus to all around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 11 – The Christmas light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 How dreary these dark December nights would be without all the glowing Christmas lights! The bright lights are an appropriate symbol at Christmas and the Apostle John calls this to our attention in our text. Jesus is the Light shining in the darkness. Human hearts and this world are dark with sin. Worldly people, deceived by Satan, see everything as grey. They dismiss personal sin as small mistakes and try to ignore its brutal power. Enlightened by Scripture, Christians can see that this world is in utter darkness and human hearts are by nature in complete darkness without Christ. The joy of Christmas is that God sent His Son to shine in the darkness. Though sin, Satan, the world and the evil filling human hearts are deadly strong, the power of the light of Christ is far stronger, and the darkness has not overcome it. Reflect on the spiritual assessment of our text, namely, that the world and our own sin cannot frustrate the work of Christ, our Saviour, sent by God the Father to fill the hearts of His people with the joy of spiritual light showing us the way to salvation. Instructed by God's Word, let us flee the darkness and come to the Light which will never cease to shine. As we see the Christmas lights glow all around us, let us lift up our hearts to the one, true Light, our divine Saviour, whose birth we celebrate. Jesus was born to set us free from darkness, born to give us the light of life! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to shed the light of His Word, the light of the saving power of His Son upon your path of life. Pray for strength to walk each day in that light. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 10 – Happy Hanukkah

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. – John 10:22,23 Scripture reading: John 10:22-39 Today, our Jewish neighbours begin their celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights. We read in John 10 that Jesus was in the temple at Hanukkah. This Feast was a yearly reminder to the Jews that after the Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the temple, the Jews, in 165 BC, were able to recapture Jerusalem and rededicate the temple. To relight the candlestick they needed consecrated oil, but that would take eight days to process. The Jews said that by a miracle the candlestick burned for eight days with only enough oil for one day. That is why light is the symbol of this feast. What has all this to do with us? John was inspired to include the fact that Jesus was in the temple at the Feast of Dedication. This should call to our minds and hearts that God sent His Son, Jesus, Who came to the temple and declared, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). This should remind us of God's faithfulness in providing the light of life in a world made dark by sin. It should remind us to hold fast to God's covenant promises as He fulfills them completely. Through them, we find spiritual strength to confront the darkness of Satan and the world. Through faith in Christ, the Light of the world, we find saving strength. May the perfect light of the Saviour shine upon us forever. Suggestions for prayer Make it your petition that God will prosper the work of Christian missions among the Jewish people. Pray that the Gospel light will shine brightly in your heart and home. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 9 – Christ’s sacrifice

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – Galatians 4:4,5 Scripture reading: Galatians 3:23-4:7 Christmas marks the occasion when the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary and took on human flesh. As such, He experienced temptations, physical weakness and pain. His birth is the start of His life of suffering and obedience to the Father's will. The heart of that obedience was that Christ was born to be our sacrifice for sin. Such a sacrifice is essential for us because our sins alienate us from God and His love, and it is needed to satisfy God's righteous justice. In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son. Because our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to live under God's Law in perfect obedience and because He willingly offered Himself on Calvary's cross, when we come to Him through the Spirit's gift of faith, He forgives our sin. As forgiven sinners, God receives us for the sake of His Son. This is possible because God sent His Son to be our perfect sacrifice. Those who truly celebrate Christmas acknowledge this fact and rejoice in it. While so many around us indulge themselves in a merely sentimental, secular Christmas, for Christians it is different. As one who once was condemned by your breaking of God's Law, prepare your heart for a true celebration of Christmas by knowing you need salvation and every day you need a sacrifice for sin. Prepare for Christmas by depending on Christ alone to satisfy your need and to make you, through Christ's sacrifice, a child of God by a gracious adoption! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a humble heart that acknowledges your spiritual need. Thank God for His marvellous love in sending His Son to meet your needs. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 8 – Never too dark

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. – Isaiah 9:2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 At this time of year in North America days are short and nights are long. Many people brighten the darkness with beautiful light displays. For most, such lights are merely decoration, but Christians know that light is a powerful, Biblical symbol at Christmas. Darkness is a picture of despair; today many walk in spiritual darkness. Isaiah, inspired by God, recognized this spiritual darkness which is the result of sin. Who were the people walking in darkness? Gentile sinners? Yes. These words of prophecy, however, were directed at God's own people, because the people of Judah had placed themselves in darkness due to their rebellion against God. Today, this prophecy speaks to us. We must beware of the darkness that can come upon us if we fail to believe and live in obedience. God would not have His people live in darkness. That is why He sent His Son to be the Light of the world. It is a blessing beyond price that we, who live in a sin-dark world, can come to that Light by the powerful working of the Spirit. The apostle tells us in Ephesians 5:8, "For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Those who walk by faith in Christ know the joy of walking in the light. May the light of Christ shine upon you at this season and always. Seek God's gift of spiritual light, so that the saving grace of the Lord will shine upon you! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to shine the Gospel light upon you and your loved ones by helping you to be faithful in Scripture reading, prayer and worship. Pray that the Lord will provide you with opportunities to share that light. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 7 – From the start to the finish

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. – Revelation 22:13 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-13 Jesus introduces Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Remember that Revelation is a book of symbols. The Lord is using these Greek letters to declare that He is eternal, the source of life and being. By this, the Lord is pointing us to the opening words of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That is how the Christmas story starts in the Gospel of John. This is an important aspect of Christmas. The miracle of the Virgin Mary's baby is but part of the amazing work of God. It is the start of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that He is the Alpha, the beginning, and was with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity. What a joy to serve the Lord and Saviour, the very source of life and blessing. He is also the end, the Omega. Secular humanity fears that climate change, a virus or nuclear war will end this world. We know that Jesus will usher in the close of the age. The One born at Christmas will return and every knee will bow to Him. He will complete all things and at the end, He stands holding out to believers the crown of life. Rejoice to behold God's Son! Come as a baby, but do not fail to acknowledge Him as eternal God, your Saviour and Lord, the Alpha and Omega in your heart and life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christians everywhere, yourself included, will remember the eternal dimension of Christmas, namely, that the One born in Bethlehem is the Alpha and Omega. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 6 – What will you get?

And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him.  I Kings 5:12 Scripture reading: I Kings 5 Sometimes parents promise children a certain Christmas present, but cannot deliver. Popular toys can become unobtainable. It happens. People break promises and not just small ones. Sacred promises, vows of marriage or profession of faith, are broken by some and it hurts families and churches. If the Lord God promises something, however, He will give it! Our text speaks to us of the promise of God to Solomon, the gift of wisdom. God kept His promise and that was fine for Solomon, but what about us? In James 1:5-7 the Lord promises to give wisdom to those who turn to Him today. How we need this precious gift! If we are going to resist the devil, if we are going to contend for the faith, if we are going to make good decisions in life, then we need wisdom. Today, the Lord's Day, seek divine blessings and gifts by trusting God's promises and by living in obedience. You have the opportunity to seek the Lord and all that He promises in public worship. Do not neglect this! The Lord promises His blessings to those who sincerely seek and worship Him, and His promises never fail. That is the comforting message of our text, "the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him." Receiving the gift of wisdom is far better than any material Christmas present you might get. Seek wisdom then where it is to be found, including attending public worship at church, and the Lord will surely give it. That is God's promise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that all who attend worship today will give full attention to the Scripture readings, the preaching, the prayers, indeed all aspects of worship that they may gain, as a gift of God, the wisdom to live for Jesus in faith and obedience. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 5 – Get ready

And Mary said, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38 Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 The world gets ready for Christmas with a rush of parties and presents. We see a different picture in our Scripture reading. Mary was told by the Archangel Gabriel that by a miracle she would be with child and that child would be the Messiah. Hearing that, she made herself ready with a humble spirit of service. “I am the servant of the Lord,” she said. She was not the giver of the gift. It was God Who gave His Son. Mary's task was to serve the Lord by becoming the virgin mother of God's Son. We see Mary's humble spirit of acceptance. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” What God asked of her was difficult to comprehend and could bring disgrace upon her, because Joseph and the people of Nazareth would be hard-pressed to understand. Yet, with trust and faith, she accepted the Lord's will and readied her heart. All of us are getting ready for Christmas. No doubt you have been busy buying presents and planning family celebrations. There are special programs that require much time and effort. Let us not, however, become overpowered by the world's Christmas rush. We are called to serve the Lord and make our hearts ready to receive Him in a spirit of humble service and acceptance of His will. May your response to the Lord be, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that God's Spirit will instill within you a spirit of service and acceptance of God's will. Ask that such a spirit will help you to prepare for worship tomorrow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 4 – A light for the nations

I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. – Isaiah 49:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 49:1-7 Isaiah often speaks prophetically of the Servant of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 49, God promises that Servant of the Lord, " I will make you as a light for the nations." Jesus came to be that light, not just for the people of His day, or for God's Old Testament people, but for all the nations! That word “light” stands for Christ's redeeming work, the eternal plan of God to build a church from among all the peoples of this world. That is why God sent His Son. Praise God that the message of salvation has gone out in our own day to the end of the earth! The good news has reached far and wide and includes you who are reading this devotional. We must remember, however, that the good tidings of great joy must reach all peoples. May this vital aspect of Christmas remind us to shine with light, reflecting the perfect light of Christ Jesus. Christmas is often a time when unbelievers are more receptive to listen to the Gospel. Do your part in sharing the light of Christ with those near and dear to you. Remember our responsibility to support the cause of missions. There are many opportunities, but often not enough resources. Led by His Word and Spirit, let us be faithful in our personal witness and in our support of missions. May the Gospel light shine brightly to the ends of the earth, so that from among all the peoples, God's elect will be gathered in. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to provide you with opportunities to share the light of Christ with those around you in a meaningful way. Uphold missionaries at home and abroad with your prayers and financial support. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 3 – Joseph’s obedience

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife. – Matthew 1:24 Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 In our modern celebration of Christmas, Joseph seems to have disappeared. He is in the Gospel story and in many manger scenes, but his place in the blessed event seems overlooked or forgotten. Why? Satan has filled our modern world with the sin of rebellion. When we read the Christmas story, Joseph appears as a man of obedience, the opposite of rebellion. The Lord called Joseph to his part and Joseph obeyed. It seemed that all the forces of the world conspired against Joseph to impel him to disobey the bidding of the Lord's angel. Why should he give up his legal right to divorce Mary? Why should he go through all the emotional turmoil of dealing with this unexpected turn of events? Yet, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took Mary home and protected her. He established a family and home into which the Son of God was welcomed. Such an example of wholehearted obedience is not popular in our sinful, rebellious age. Through His Word in Matthew 1, the Lord is calling us to respond as people of faith, who hear the Gospel message and respond with faith, but also with obedience. How do you plan on celebrating Christmas? God calls each of us to be a witness to our own family and to a watching world. Your obedience to the Lord, when others see you actually do what the Lord commands, is a powerful witness. May that witness shine brightly this Christmas season and always! Suggestions for prayer Pray for inner spiritual strength for yourself and your loved ones that your witness will be strong and bright this Christmastide through practical acts of obedience to the Lord's will. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 2 – Preparing the way

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways. – Luke 1:76 Scripture reading: Luke 1:67-80 Big events require preparation and Christmas is no exception. The first Christmas was no afterthought of God. He had His divine preparations. As part of that, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Zachariah, the priest. In the temple, where Zachariah was performing his priestly duties, Gabriel gave him a message. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a son, John, whose task would be to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. John's message was a call to repentance. The heart that is prepared for Jesus is a repentant heart. None other will do. John's message was gracious, true to his name which means “the Lord is gracious.” He was preparing the people to receive God's gracious gift, His Son, Who would earn forgiveness for His people through His death and establish forgiveness in the power of His resurrection. John did his work. He preached about sin, repentance and forgiveness. The way was prepared for Jesus by His cousin, John the Baptist. Today we are called to prepare a way for the Lord. How? We must be prepared to show those around us, by word and deed, that Christmas is a remembrance of God's great gift of His Son. God also calls us to prepare personally by receiving into our hearts, by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only a person who truly trusts by faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour is really prepared to rejoice in the glad celebration of Christmas. May you, by grace through faith, be well prepared. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and those around you will prepare for your Christmas celebrations with a focus on our need to repent and on the power of Christ Jesus to forgive. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to December’s devotionals

As one might expect, the focus of our attention in this month of December is the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. There is no end to the blessing of reflecting upon the great gift of God the Father, namely, His beloved Son, Whom He gave to us for our salvation. Most of us live in places where, sadly, those around us celebrate a merely secular Christmas. We must confess that all too often we can get caught up in the hectic, almost frantic, pace of such celebrations, which are the sole object of attention for our neighbours, co-workers and friends. How important it is, then, to make sure that on a daily basis our attention is fixed on the true meaning of Christmas, the holy birth of Jesus, our Saviour. It is my hope and intention that by delving into the Scriptures day by day throughout this month of December, we can lift up our hearts heavenward and nourish our souls by reflecting upon the true meaning of Christmas. May this daily devotional, together with personal prayer and public worship, help us to praise and thank God for sending us His Son. Have a blessed Christmas! Rejecting Christmas He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. – John 1:11 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 The Christmas rush is already in full swing. All around us, people are frantically busy purchasing presents, planning parties and decorating their homes as they prepare to celebrate a secular Christmas. Santa, not Jesus, is the main character for them. Parties, not worship, are their priority. As Christians, we view this with sadness and we might quickly say that such folks are rejecting the true meaning of Christmas. Our Scripture reading speaks of a rejecting of Christmas, but not by the secular multitudes. Our text says, "He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him." As we begin our month of devotions, I urge you to reflect on this. Remember that at the first coming of our Lord, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and the leadership of God's Old Testament people rejected the Saviour with devastating consequences. The shepherds and the wise men rejoiced in Jesus' birth, but the vast majority of people did not, even though they claimed to be awaiting the Messiah. We, many of us, know the promises of God. We share in the life of the church. What a shame it would be if we rejected the very truth of Christmas by failing to crown the Prince of Peace as Lord of our lives. It can happen. Years ago, at the actual event, Jesus came, and His own people did not receive Him. Today, let us receive Him by faith as He truly is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour! Rejoice, for the Messiah has come! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your heart and the hearts of those around you and that as the Christmas season begins, your focus of attention will be on the gift of God, Jesus, Whom you are to receive humbly by grace through faith. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....