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Daily devotional

September 26 – Handling the blessing

That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands, And ten thousands in our fields; – Psalm 144:13 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings and see what God has done!” Wow, what a long list! As we have been reading this Psalm each day it may have begun to occur to you that the Psalm began with war, but ends with peace. Christ is the centre of the Psalm and His work on the cross – as the One Who allowed abuse to be heaped on Him – brings the peace needed, even while in this world remnants of warfare persist. We are doing “mop-up” work. The warring is ending. So also, the glorying is beginning. Glorification, that is, has already begun to break into this fallen world. One way we see this is the multitude of good gifts our God gives to us. We are richly supplied! This begs a question: How do we handle these blessings? Should we build bigger barns (or multiple thousand square foot homes with multiple car garages)? For what purpose, to what end does God supply His people, many times quite richly? Does money last? Riches wither and supply dwindles. How should we hold what we have? Ask Job. Loosely. Let’s be open-handed Christians. Once we are sure we are providing for our family and our congregation and paying all we owe, we need to be givers. Are you a generous Christian, or stingy? Believers, we give as a testimony to the God Who gave His Son, His only Son for us. Be generous. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to search your heart and reveal the ways you could be more generous. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 25 – God of food and finance

That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands, And ten thousands in our fields; – Psalm 144:13 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 “Give us this day our daily bread,” a prayer we have probably uttered countless times. He does hear us. He does. God hears each and every prayer made by His people. Our struggle is probably in believing that He has time to care for us, or is really interested in the minute details of our lives. But this verse admonishes those faithless notions. King David prays that the covenant people have barns full of all kinds of produce and sheep that keep bearing young. He asks for plenty of food and money. In the agrarian culture of the ancient near east, food and flocks meant survival. Do those things come from God? Does He tend to the sprouting, growth and completion of a seed planted in the ground? I would guess many of us can think of different Bible passages (mustard seed; seeds and soils; etc.) which we know prove that God causes agricultural growth. Likewise, God makes or halts pregnancy, as Jacob knew well. Those sheep were money to Jacob! This is what our God is like, dear people. He gives us food and finance to keep us alive. He creates and sustains life in this world, with an abundance of those, such that the Christian can ever prosper. Out of our excess, we offer thanks to the Lord and supply the needs of those less fortunate than we are, and we do so with voluntary generosity. Why? Because our God is like this! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you confidence that He will provide all your needs and will give you enough so that you can share with others out of your abundance. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 24 – Erecting trees and pillars

That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; – Psalm 144:12 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Have you ever been inclined to say “let go and let God” about a situation in your life? It is sometimes very tempting to take that advice. Yet, even well-intended, that sentiment is bad advice. If you were racing down a steep hill on your bicycle and tried that, I fear it would not end well. I doubt many of us would agree to try that approach with parenting. Why not? Well, because we know ourselves. When you were a teenager, did you do something that later you hoped (and prayed!) would never be known by your parents? Prayer and parenting are not opposed, but are two sides of one coin. This is also that (well-known) secret of the Christian life, we pray and do. The request for deliverance in verse 11 was made with a mind to this “domestic tranquility” which only the Christian family may fully and richly enjoy. The Christian family enjoys this domestic tranquility (not perfectly, though) by applying scriptural truth to all actions within the home and family. Behind all this parenting is prayer to the God Who gives sons as trees (Psalm 1) and daughters looking as majestic temple pillars, full of beauty and might. Yet, along with that praying, we work hard to see them raised as ones who desire to glorify God in all they do (Colossians 3:17). Covenant parenting is part and parcel of the warfare of this Psalm. May He strengthen us for the battle! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you the precious gift our children are, and the commitment to do all needed to raise them as covenant children in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 23 – God’s victory in covenant

That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; – Psalm 144:12 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 How well do we know God? What do we mean when we call Him “Father”? Are we confident that God, in Christ loves us? Are we sure He will give us all we need, when we need it? These are the kinds of questions that can rattle around in our heart and head when we are looking at a verse like this one. The statements, or requests by the Psalmist, begun in this verse, are very brave – almost daring! Why that, why daring? Because of what is being asked. The requests begin with the home, the family, and goes out from there. But daring, especially in that what the Psalmist actually asks for is a perfect life! Who has a perfect life? Which parents, father or mother, reading this verse has only stout, healthy sons and beautiful, stately daughters? Do any? But we need to go back to that primary question: How well do you know God? Who is He? Is it His intention and plan, in His covenant power and faithfulness to give us beautiful, godly children? Yes, of course it is. Yes. Yes! Beauty and godliness are words which describe God and He is remaking our children, by the mercies of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be men and woman who portray Him. Do you believe that? Whether you do makes all the difference in how you will raise those covenant children. What joy and help it is to know Who God is as we raise our children in His Name! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to convince you that He is generous in giving you children who grow up to be godly men and women. Ask God to do all that is needed to preserve those covenant children. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 22 – Delivered by God from the worst attacks

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood – Psalm 144:11 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 You may have noticed one word changed in the title of the devotional from yesterday to today. Jesus Christ was delivered by His Father to these sufferings for us so that today, the Lord’s Day we can rejoice that we are delivered from such attacks. We are coming to know Who our God is. But what about us? Do we know why this category of attack can be so destructive? David laments the attack of words and deception. These wounds can hurt far more than the blow of sword or financial collapse. The attack of words, lies and deception strike a blow to our heart, our inner man. Paul prayed that we would be… "strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16) because that is where we are the most vulnerable. Strike a blow in the inner man and recovery is difficult and tenuous. Perhaps you know how hurtful these wounds are. In our Christian culture, we still don’t give depression and mental illness their proper place. We tend to think like we can wave a wand and these griefs will wisp away.  Yet, David prays earnestly for rescue from just such a trial – one that is internal, rather than external. We usually can’t see the wound that brought depression, but its sad fruits are quite evident. Rejoice today, believer, that the Lord’s Day is the day to know the shadow of His wings (Psalm 57:1) He will keep you safe from every attack. Trust Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you rejoice in the shadow of His wings and to keep you safe from every attack. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 21 – Delivered by God to the worst attacks

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood – Psalm 144:11 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 A few days ago we saw that these exact words (with one difference – see September 13) appear twice in this Psalm. While repetition in the Old Testament Hebrew is normal, repetition of a negative appeal is not. This devotional exercise has been a practice of repetition because God repeats in the Bible what He wants emphasized. These words are important to Him. He knows we need to have these words pressed into our hearts. This is what a kind and loving Father does. Knowing what we most need, He brings it to our attention twice. Take note of this. God wants us to know how He feels about what will happen to His beloved Son that day of His unjust trial and crucifixion. Those who will cast votes and cause nails to pierce His perfect Son will speak lying words and will be the epitome of falsehood. God wants us to know this. There is another reason we need to know this and we will look at that tomorrow, but first, know God. What we can learn about God today is that He wants you to know His love by what His Son endured for us. The shame and agony of the cross were but one aspect of His suffering – He also was betrayed, even by His closest friends. How He suffered, how terrible His grief. We are so blessed to be able to know Him well, for this is the Father’s desire – that we know and love His Son. Praise Him! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you something of Jesus Christ in your Bible reading every day. He is the finest gold and richest treasure we can ever mine in the pages of Scripture. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 20 – I need to be saved

The One Who gives salvation to kings, Who delivers David His servant from the deadly sword.– Psalm 144:10 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 What does it mean to be saved? King David faced enemies many times, not just once. Do we get into the mindset that “once saved, always saved” means I have no need to be saved continually? The Apostle Paul didn’t teach that. Actually, in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit brings further clarity to the believer about salvation by using the past tense, the present tense and the future tense. At 2 Timothy 1:9 we are told that God…has saved us and called us with a holy calling. 1 Corinthians 1:18 reminds us that we are those who…are being saved. And 1 Corinthians 3:15 tells us that even weak believers…will be saved. Much more could be shown to prove these points. The question is, who do you know yourself to be? Have you been saved? Are you being saved? Will you be saved? Contemplating these questions reveals what you believe about God and about yourself. Again, what does it mean to be saved? What have you said or done this week that required “saving”? Have you been forgiven? Of course! But did you ask for forgiveness? Do you apply the value of Christ’s work to each and every sinful failure you are aware of? We won’t know all our sins. There are too many to know – but the ones we do know, we should seek forgiveness for and praise Him when we again remember that we have been delivered. What a glorious God we serve! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you today how full and rich is the work of Jesus Christ in your life. Ask Him to enable you to truly be thankful for His salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 19 – God saves

The One Who gives salvation to kings, Who delivers David His servant from the deadly sword.– Psalm 144:10 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Do you struggle with sin? Is that a ridiculous question? Most, if not all of us would say that we do struggle with sin. But what do we mean by that and why is that an important question in connection with this verse? King David says here that God gives salvation, delivers David and that deliverance is from a danger which would otherwise cause death. Stop and ponder that. Are you faced with death? At Romans 8:36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to the effect that believers “face death all day long.” Do you believe that? Is sin and temptation that “deadly serious” that you look to God to rescue you from certain destruction? How would that frame of mind improve your appreciation for Who God is? We need to go back to this question again – Who is God? Well, He is the deliverer. He saves. God brings us out of death. He gives us life hour by hour, day after day. This is Who He is and what He does. Professing this, our frame of reference for understanding who we are is altered – improved. God keeps us safe, not we ourselves. God delivers us more than we make choices that keep us safe.  We put on the full armor, but it is the “armor of God” that we put on. He saves! We need our thinking sanctified so that our behaving will follow in line. God is our deliverer, He saves! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to remind you that you are far weaker than you realize. Ask Him this, not to make less of you, but to make more of Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 18 – So why sing?

I will sing a new song to You, O God; On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, – Psalm 144:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 David is here responding to grace. This is why we sing. Songs of praise come forth from our hearts through our mouths because we do desire to honour, thank, extol and exalt the God Who has given so much to us. We remember, however, that this is a Psalm of warfare. David was a warrior king. The praise he offers to God through music is a response to military victory. God is the deliverer. He brought His people through battles and wars and they responded with songs of acclaim and thanksgiving. This makes the Psalm new to us again. Our battles are not with ‘flesh and blood’ but with spiritual forces of evil. Are our battles less important and less significant than were David’s and other Old Testament saints? We know enough to say, “No, our battles are not less important.” Neither are they less severe and challenging. When you know God has preserved you during a time of temptation or in the midst of a spiritual battle, do you feel like praising Him? Do you consider a song of adoration and thanksgiving? We need to ask questions of our own heart about how we respond to having been delivered. What I mean is, though we would never criticize King David for singing a song of praise to God for a military victory against an enemy of the covenant people…would we be very slow to sing songs of praise for deliverance out of temptation? If so, why? Praise God with Music! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you two or three ways He has delivered you in the past days so that you will know why praising Him with music is a blessing instead of a duty. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 17 – The God worthy of song

I will sing a new song to You, O God; On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, – Psalm 144:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Martin Luther once wrote something to the effect of…next to the Bible itself, music is God’s greatest gift to mankind. We each probably know something of the power of music. Concert venues are usually packed to overflowing when a popular musician is in town. Many people have their favourite songs playing in their vehicle or on their personal listening devices. We love music. God says here that He loves music that is dedicated to Him. He created music as a means to glorify Him. You probably already know that life in the new heavens and new earth will be music-full! But what we are asking in this series of devotionals is, first, Who is God? Why would music bring Him pleasure? Well, He is creative and loves artistry and aesthetic beauty. I believe He gave songs to whales that they might sing to bring Him pleasure. He is enthroned upon the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and that praise-full enthronement is via music. For reasons not fully revealed, His nature and being resonate with joy to the sounds of musical praise. When we then seek to answer the question, Who is God, in relationship to music, we seek to say that He is able to be joyful. God is pleased by praise through music. Does this knowledge of an aspect of God change how you plan to worship Him on the coming Lord’s Day? He is delighted by music, and singing that praises Him is most excellent music indeed! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a new appreciation for music. Pray that you would love to praise Him as much as He delights to receive joy through praise. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 16 – Living with liars

Whose mouth speaks vain words, And whose right hand is a hand of falsehood. – Psalm 144:8 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 The Lord’s Day was a blessing – and we needed it. Perhaps you heard exactly what you needed to hear, sang a song your heart really needed, or maybe your experience of God’s grace in a sacrament nourished your heart. But now it’s Monday. Great, back to the land of liars. Oh, is that too harsh? So, the Bible is wrong? Man has “progressed” as the liberals and evolutionists want us to believe? We know the Bible is not wrong and we know that we go back to work among those who are not guilt-stricken when they lie or break a promise. Now what? Now we are in the day of opportunity! We know it’s wrong to lie, we know God would have us tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….and that means we get to tell them of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life! Monday is evangelism day. Monday is “tell the truth day.” Try these three ideas: First, tell them, truthfully, that you actually do care about them and their troubles. Most unbelievers will be shocked out of their socks to hear someone does love them. Second, tell them that the whole Bible is true. Don’t argue, just tell. The Holy Spirit will do His work. Third, tell them that you will pray for them. The truth will win out over all lies and we are blessed to be the people of the truth. Speak truth in love. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you love and concern for your unbelieving neighbor. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 15 – God contra mundum

Whose mouth speaks vain words, And whose right hand is a hand of falsehood. – Psalm 144:8 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 You have now read this Psalm 15 times. Since that is the case, you might have noticed that the last part of verse 7 and verse 8 are largely repeated in verse 11. That is very significant in a way we will discuss at verse 11. For now, do take note, on the Lord’s Day, that the complaint King David has here is about lying and a double-cross. He trusted another human and that person has destroyed David’s confidence by a lie. God is not like the world (1 John 2:15-17). God is truth while all in the world will lie to us. “Let God be true and every man a liar!” (Romans 3:4). God intends for you to find assurance in His promises today. The Lord’s Day is when the church gathers together in a particular place and is reminded and taught that God tells the truth. He speaks only Words of Truth and when He makes a promise, He keeps it. Someone might get baptized today. The most significant thing about that baptism is that God makes a promise, His covenant, to that child or adult. He keeps His Word. We are covenant Christians. Our hope and certainty are built on God’s Word – He keeps His promises. What a blessing and what joy for us to know that all is well with my soul because God does all He promises. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you how His truth has already changed your life in many different ways. Ask Him to use this Lord’s Day to give you ever deeper assurance in His promises. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 14 – I can’t even lift my arm to say I need to be saved

Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, From the hand of foreigners, – Psalm 144:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Tomorrow is the Lord’s day. Do you have for yourself and your family a pattern of preparing on Saturday for the Lord’s day upcoming? It was once very common in historic, reformed churches that prior to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper there was a preparatory service. This was excellent! Maybe the sermon had a special emphasis on preparing – but what about preparing to worship Him every Lord’s Day? This verse can be of great help to us in preparing to worship God corporately tomorrow. Okay, how? Well, this verse reminds us that had not God reached into this world to save us we would be utterly lost. Tomorrow would have been golf or shopping or overtime at work, but not worship. In thinking carefully about this verse it should occur to us that we never even raised our hand to say “help” until God had first given us spiritual life to know we needed to be rescued. Regeneration precedes conversion. God needed to give us eyes to see before we saw that we were naked and without any spiritual funds at all. When you wake tomorrow, thank Him. Praise Him that you get to worship Him because He entered to deliver us out of death. Remember, the battle is the Lord’s and He fought in Jesus Christ to save you, to give you life everlasting. Praise God! So, do you have a plan of how to prepare today to worship tomorrow? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to settle your heart, mind and hands by the end of this day that you might worship Him fully and freely in spirit and truth tomorrow. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 13 – Divine activity

Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, From the hand of foreigners, – Psalm 144:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 There is an ancient heresy which has plagued regular Christians for ages. This heresy espoused by high-brow academics, who are sure they know better, is also sometimes accepted by us regular Christians, where it would be termed an error. There is an issue we get wrong about how God acts. This very old teaching is called Deism. Deism says that God made all things and then decided to stay “out of our business.” He is sovereign, but totally uninvolved in the affairs of “we the people.” But sometimes we Christians act like that old lie is the truth. This verse is a comforting correction to that ancient error. God acts! God reaches down from above and pulls us out of the mess in which we find ourselves. He enters our world of trouble. God must or we are doomed! Into the quiet of Bethlehem, the heavens above were torn open and the angelic army choir poured into our world, singing of the arrival of the promised messianic Babe. Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace! What kind of peace do you need today? His hand is there. Do you need to be delivered out of “great waters”? Are you drowning in sorrow, in debt, in self-pity? God is still able to take hold of you because He decided to involve Himself in our affairs. Praise Him today for Jesus Christ Who entered to save. O, how God must come down. Then we are saved! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to reveal to you how important and significant to your daily sanctification is the fact that He involves Himself in your day to day choices. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 12 – Learning to be a child again

Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them. – Psalm 144:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Once upon a time you cried out to your parent. You might be older – 80’s or 90’s, but you might still remember a day long ago when you cried out to your dad or mom. Were you hurt? Did you get lost? Maybe you woke up from a terrible nightmare. But you cried out – you needed help! And you probably never considered the possibility that your parent would ignore you. You expected to be answered! Here is King David, the most powerful man in the kingdom with guards and fighting men all around him, but he cries out to God. He knows that only God can rescue him. Is this our practical experience of faith? Is this why we pray, how we pray? Those two things we most need to know – Who God is and who we are – what do we learn about who we are in this verse? Do we learn that we need help? Do you know that you need to be delivered and do you think about it most every day? The Heidelberg Catechism tells us that we must know how great our sins and misery are…why? When your child acts out and sins blatantly, do you discipline him? Why? Because you want him to learn. So too with knowing our sins. We need to remember that God alone saves us. And in the daily struggles, too, God must rescue us. Is this why you pray? Is this how you pray? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you that being a child in His care is a position of peace and joy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 11 – Asking God to fight our battles

Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Shoot out Your arrows and destroy them. – Psalm 144:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Things are serious now. The Psalmist, King David is asking God to personally involve Himself in David’s conflict and not in a defensive or neutral way. David wants God to fight. Do you think God would fight? What kind of God is He? One way to think through an answer is to consider what a godly earthly father would do for his children. Would a good dad fight to save his child? The answer is obvious, right? Will God fight? In the context of the Psalm, the battle is raging. Man is weak and the war intense. God must fight. Is this not the whole story of the Bible? Man fought a battle at the beginning, in the garden which impacted all of history. He fought a fight with the grand liar and he lost. God had to fight. This is why Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, went into the wilderness to confront Satan. God had to fight. The only hope we have is God fighting our battles for us. Now we begin to understand. The Psalm is beginning to make more sense. The battle is the Lord’s! This is the way to start our day and in remembering this, we have real hope. God must fight. Today, this day, all day, God must shoot His arrows and destroy our enemies, applying the victory of His Son to our daily battles. Praise God and thank Him for fighting for you! Suggestions for prayer It's obvious, right? Ask God to fight your battles today. When you notice that He has conquered for you, stop and thank Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 10 – Will we be consumed?

Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. – Psalm 144:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 This verse is impressive. God speaks to us here about Himself. He wants us to know that were He to come down, the solid, rock-hard elements of this earth would erupt into fire and smoke. What about us? How could we survive being in the presence of this glorious and majestic, thrice holy God? Well, on our own we couldn’t. The entire Old Covenant system made this clear. The blood of animals was shed to point to cleansing from sin so that sinful man could be near to God. Yet, almost no people ever entered in the presence of God. The High Priest could enter, but only one day each year and again, only by shed blood. The glorious reality is, this verse tells us about what we have in Jesus Christ. All who believe on Him have everlasting life and will remain near to God for all of eternity, in His presence, but we have already now been granted full access into the holy of holies by the new and living way of the shed blood of Jesus. Will God consume sin? Yes, but that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross. The Father poured out His wrath for our sins on the cross and Jesus “took” (absorbed) that punishment for us. Here is where knowing God and knowing who we are is so important. We have come to know that we need a Saviour. Trust Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to reveal who you are and Who He is so that you know clearly your need for Jesus Christ. No other prayer is more important. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 9 – The blaze of His glory

Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. – Psalm 144:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 I believe it was C.S. Lewis who, in a book he wrote, posed the rhetorical question, “Do you think God is safe?” The answer expected was “no.” There is an important sense in which that is true. “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29). Verse 5 surely drives that point home. To bow or bend the heavens is to ask God to “interrupt” creation – to cause a rift or a break in the elements that are above us, the unchanging nature of which we probably take for granted. When God enters the scene, nothing is unchanged. Were He to “touch the mountains” they would smoke. This is what Israel experienced at Sinai. They heard the sound, saw the sights of God impacting His creation. Let’s ask the question again – from this verse – Who is God?? We remember that this Psalm is set in the context of warfare. This is spiritual warfare for us and often we are overwhelmed by it. Then this verse teaches us that we can call out to God Who can break into this creation, into our reality. We need to remember this and believe. To put a truth into practice we first need to accept it as truth. God is this One Who can powerfully come down to save us. This new day and new work week afford us the opportunity to take God at His Word for everything we face. Believe! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you an expanded view of His majestic glory. Ask Him to impress you with Himself! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 8 – Day of rest for those passing on

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. – Psalm 144:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 “The Sabbath was made for man…” (Mark 2:27). Have you ever asked why? Let’s answer that question in terms of what we know already from our study of Psalm 144. We have carefully studied the first four verses. What we know so far is that God trains us for warfare. This spiritual warfare which Paul mentions in Ephesians 6 is difficult. We grow weary. We understand verse 4 better as we age and feel our once strong bodies getting weak and easily tired. Yet spiritually, we learn how much we lack strength. How do you feel if, by a sad situation, you have to miss attending worship on a Lord’s Day? Even more tired, right? We are like a breath and we easily get out of breath, spiritually! We are like a passing shadow and we feel time rushing past us. We need a day of FULL STOP. Today is that day. Praise God that He gives you the opportunity to step aside from all the regular challenges and trials, and hear of the perfect rest Christ has provided you. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). You are like a breath and you need rest. Your life is passing away quickly and you need to enter into that place and time of eternal things to be reminded that God is eternal in the heavens. As you attend worship today remember your need and His full supply! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of His salvation on this glorious day of rest! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 7 – God is not like us

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. – Psalm 144:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Well, it is good that God is the opposite! Have we given enough thought to how “other” God is? This is hard for us because we live gasping for each breath, scraping for every next dollar, praying for each new day. But this verse of our Psalm is telling us who we are so that we would remember this is exactly Who God is NOT! God is not like a breath. He is firm, rock-solid, unchangeable. He is permanent and eternal. If you live near mountains you might be tempted to think those rocks are forever. That mountain range will disappear someday. God is forever. In this devotional study of Psalm 144 we are learning Who God is. What have you learned so far? Actually, this verse uses two related concepts to show how frail man is, all to teach us how reliable God is. This verse mentions “breath” and “a passing shadow.” Breath has to do with substance. Man is like a mist (James 4:14). Man is impermanent, even though we think we are pretty sturdy and can handle quite a bit. Man is also like a passing shadow. As the sun moves across the sky, so our life passes along quickly. God is solid and timeless. What a blessing to know these things about our God! We are not helped by worry, but are strengthened by faith – in Who God is! For the rest of this day (passing shadow!) set your mind on God’s stable Being. Be encouraged! Suggestions for prayer Try praying for longer than you ever have before. When you are done, check how long you prayed, then remember that God has been listening to the prayers of His people for thousands of years. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 6 – Putting ourselves in place

LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man that You are mindful of him? – Psalm 144:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Reading the Bible can be a very encouraging practice. There is so much to know about Who God is in His gracious ways to us in Jesus Christ. The promises of Scripture bring us comfort, bring us hope and bring us joy. But just who is the “us” we are thinking about? This is the second great thing we want to know by the end of this study of Psalm 144 and by the end of this month: Just who am I as a human? That’s the question of verse 3. Who are we? What are humans like? The assumption of the writing of the verse is that we humans are not “all that.” We are not all we think ourselves to be and certainly not as great and powerful, wise and wealthy as Hollywood makes us out to be. Compared to God, we are specks of dust riding on the eyelashes of microscopic dust mites. But that is exactly the point, isn’t it? Have you ever met someone or can you think of a person you remember in your past who thought he was really “the cat’s meow?” This person was convinced he was really special or important. Did he annoy most everyone else around him? Yet, we are all a little like that from time to time and maybe more often than we realize. The answer expected in this verse humbles us. We really are not that important. Yet God sent His Son for folks just like us! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to remind you that He loves you even though it is true that you are not lovely in yourself. Ask Him to show you how rich is His grace in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 5 – The condescending mercy of God

LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man that You are mindful of him? – Psalm 144:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 There is a perfect contrast displayed in this verse. This contrast is unlike any other contrast in all of creation. This is the contrast between the Creator and the creature. Every other contrast you could mention has less “distance” to cross, less difference to wrestle with than the Creator-creature contrast. God, the LORD has no need for anything. Man the creature is completely needy. God is entirely complete in Himself, we are fully dependent on Him for everything we have. In this verse the Psalmist asks why does the God Who needs nothing spend any effort, time or resource on us humans. This is an excellent question! Mercy is the answer. God is merciful. Do you remember from the introduction to this devotional that we are striving to know well two things: Who God is and who we are? This verse tells us by a question that seems to have no good answer, that God is merciful. Otherwise, what possible answer could we expect to the question of this verse? Since God is everything, what is man? Man is nothing, that’s what. Since God has all power, what power do we humans have? None. Since all life comes from God’s work and good pleasure, what life do we humans have on our own? None. Since salvation from sins comes from God’s plan in sending His Son to save us, what claim and authority over our salvation do we have? None. What is God like? He is merciful. Believe. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you greater clarity and trust in Who He says He is in the Bible. Ask Him to give you a greater interest in knowing Him each time you read the Bible. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 4 - Taking possession of what God gives

My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. – Psalm 144:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 We noticed yesterday that the structure and exact words of the Psalm are important. God determines exactly which Words He wants to teach His truth. In this second verse of the Psalm, there are personal pronouns of covenant significance “attached” to each comment about an attribute or description of God. In other words, God is not just “a” fortress, rather He is “MY” fortress. These personal pronouns are exactly what God wants to say. He says that He is the fortress or high tower or shield for His people. Do you see what that means?! “Since God is for us, who could be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Our personal application of this verse goes like this – since God sent His only begotten Son to save us (cf., John 3:16), He also promises to keep us safe, out of harm's way and ultimately safe out of hell. No enemy can take us down. We need this confidence because, as a latter part of the Psalm will show us, we don’t always “feel” well, safe, protected and peaceful. We need to believe it and tell our feelings to trust God’s Word. Have you had times in your life and experiences when your emotions got the best of you? Have you experienced fear and anxiety that has no realistic explanation? When we feel like that, we need a “High Tower.” God is our refuge and our strength (Psalm 46).  Ask this question: On this day is God MY mighty fortress? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to remind you that He is able to do all we need and more! (Ephesians 3:20) This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 3 – My powerful fortress of safety

My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. – Psalm 144:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Since you are reading through Psalm 144 every day you will soon start to learn the structure of the Psalm. You will note its rhythm, cadence and poetic features. You will notice that certain words and phrases are significant in this Psalm. One such structural clue is that most of the verses begin with Who God is or what He has done. Verse 2 is no different. Seven statements about God fill up this verse. Can you find all seven? God is “my lovingkindness…fortress…high tower…deliverer…shield…One in whom I take refuge…and the One Who subdues people under me.” Seven aspects of a profession of faith in the nature and attributes of God are found here. God is the entire reason for any confidence we might have. He is full of power, able to protect us. We are weak and prone to all sorts of weaknesses. God is able to put us out of the reach of trials, disasters and mortal enemies. We are easily overcome both physically and emotionally. What matters the most is do we know the Salvation found only in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we safe from all alarm, hiding in the arms of Jesus Christ? To know anything about this world or about yourself you must first be able to give a concrete answer to this one question: Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Saviour – is He your High Tower? What joy to know that God is the unchanging source of our well-being! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you greater faith and confidence about His ability to keep His people safe from all alarm. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 2 - My hands?

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle – Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 Sometimes we read Bible verses or passages and are encouraged at how nice it sounds. The Bible can bring peace and joy and relief and comfort – especially in knowing our sins are forgiven when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. But it is also kind of easy to remain at a distance from the words, phrases and truths in the Bible. This verse is personal. Whoever you are as you read this, whatever you have known, no matter what your job or place in life is, God is training your hands and your fingers to fight. Maybe your fingers have knit blankets. Perhaps your hands have typed on a computer keyboard. Maybe your fingers often run through the soft hair of your grandchild. Each action we just listed is warfare. These hand-crafted items given in love defeat the lies of the enemy that people only, always hate one another. Word processing programs can advance gospel truth. Parents and grandparents know they are on the front lines of the battle. Whoever you are, whatever you do, God is training you for the battle. Yet, we know that “hands” and “fingers” in this verse is “part of the whole.” God is using His Word, corporate worship and Christian experiences to train you for the warfare of the Christian life. As you read this Psalm, think of your responsibility and your personal involvement in the difficult battle of the Christian life. Have you fought before? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you how important it is to be aware of the battle. Ask Him to reveal to you that it is because of this battle that He had to send His Son, Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church(URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri....

Daily devotional

September 1 – Introduction to Psalm 144

Repetition. If you have lived for a few years, you have already learned the value of repetition. God has placed repetition into the Bible as a very helpful learning tool for us. A word or concept is repeated in the Bible because God wants that truth emphasized. For example, God is holy, holy, holy! We are going to use repetition this month as a key tool to come to grips with what God says about Himself and what we should do in response. More than anything, we must know well Who God is and who we are. Repetition will help us focus on those two things. This devotional will be very narrow and limited. We will spend the whole month in Psalm 144. God makes Himself known in His Word and His Word is a mirror by which He shows us who we are. The Bible is the richest food to feed our souls and lead us in the way everlasting. Are you ready to go?! Here’s our plan. Each day we will read Psalm 144. This should take less than 5 minutes to accomplish. But first, pray. Ask God to give you understanding of the Psalm we are studying. Then, read the entire Psalm each day. Don’t rush. Read slowly. Meditate on this Psalm; come to know it. Know God through the Word He wrote through King David. Know yourself. The devotional material will focus on one verse of the Psalm, in order, for two days. On the first day, we will see Who God is from that verse. On the second day, we will come face to face with who we are from that verse. As we look carefully at God’s Word we learn Who He is and who we are, and grow in grace and knowledge. Let’s go! My stable teacher Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle - Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 144 If you were asked to give an answer to the question, “Who is God; how would you describe Him?” How would you answer? There are many proper ways to answer that question. God created all things. God is in control of all things. God knows all things, He has power over all things, He is present everywhere, all the time. He is the God Who saves His people.  But would you say that He is the One Who trains you for battle? Maybe you have never thought of God that way before. Maybe this first verse is a statement limited to Who King David knew God to be – the God Who trained Him for war. Yet, it seems the Apostle Paul knew God to be a battle-trainer. That comes out in how Paul wrote Ephesians 6. There is a battle to be fought and our God makes us ready for battle. His will for us includes the reality that we will need to fight. He strengthens us for the fight, but this first verse says He also trains us. He uses the Bible, sermons, studies, books, conversations with other Christians, prayer, and other means to teach us the art of what John Bunyan called “Holy Warfare.”  This Psalm is God’s way of teaching us that He plans to train us to “fight the good fight of the faith.” Suggestions for prayer Pray, “Lord make me aware that You give grace for real life.” Pray this with thanks for His daily grace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church(URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri. ...