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Daily devotional

March 27 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” – Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We are to remember our Creator, to live by faith in Him! Solomon applies this call in three ways. First, live by faith in Him when you are young and throughout your life, because one day you will die (v.1, 6a). God, through Solomon, uses a poem to show us this. One day the silver cord is snapped. Second, live by faith in Him now because when you die your body turns to dust and your soul meets God (v.6b-8). Third, and the main point, live by faith because life is a vapor. All of life is controlled by God, so trust God and enjoy life. Do you like to read? Read with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like sports? Play with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like to worship on Sunday? Worship with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. In other words, keep God in mind all the time. Remember what He has done for you, given to you, and promised you. Have faith in the Lord when you are young, in days of trouble, when the sun shines and when it is dark before the golden bowl is broken. Life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him. The gospel of Jesus, which God has given, is the way for us to have joy and faith. Suggestion for prayer Disparaging and worrying about circumstances in life is not wise. Pray God will give you the Holy Spirit’s fruit of peace and joy. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 26 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” - Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We have learned about God’s call to be joyful as we live in the fear of the Lord. In our text today, God calls us to live by faith too. God calls us to live by faith in Christ for salvation, but here, as God’s covenant people, He calls us to live by faith because life is vanity. But what does this mean? Vanity in Ecclesiastes does not mean meaninglessness. Life might seem meaningless, but it is not. Even the wicked are for the Day of Judgment. In this book “vanity” also does not mean emptiness. Life is not empty, though it might feel empty. Vanity in Ecclesiastes means life can seem empty and uncontrollable because it is uncontrollable by us. From our point of view, it seems that sometimes life is running away from us, or that all our work has brought nothing, or that trying our best is hopeless because we get it wrong anyway. We know life is a vapor; it appears for a little while and then it is gone. The whole point of Ecclesiastes is that we are not in control of our life, God is. All that comes is beyond our control; God has the whole world in His hands (Romans 8:28). Therefore, we are to remember our Creator all our days, living by faith in Him, trusting His Word. Jesus came to save us and bring us to the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 15:18), and this includes remembering God and His Word every day of our lives. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would help you seek first His Kingdom. Life is short, but it is a gift from God to be lived for Him. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 25 - The call of joy

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:10 Our reading today is a call for young people to live in joy. Of course, we can apply it to all Christians. This verse is the Philippians 4:6 of the Old Testament. We could paraphrase verse 10 this way, “Soon you will turn to dust, so while you are able, get rid of vexation, anxiety, worry and anger.” When we are vexed, worried, or angry it’s because we don’t like the harsh realities of life under the sun. We are frustrated because we cannot control our life. Here, Christian, God directs us to banish all anxiety by faith in God. Be joyful for all that is in front of you. Relax and have some chips and dip. The Lord is in control (Matthew 6:25-34). So here we have this great charter of joy! All of us throughout our life are called to live a youthful joy. Now there are times we are called to mourn. See verse 8. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:4). But the idea here is to enjoy the life God has given, even though mourning is part of it. Of course “youth and the dawn of life” do have their vanity. The time of youth, as well as old age, can be empty and transitory when lived in sinful lusts. But when we fear God and believe in God’s Son, we are enabled to enjoy life as we live by faith. Suggestion for prayer The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Ask God to teach you joy in every situation. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 24 – Having joy in your youth (Part 2)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:9 There are three great truths in verse 9. First, choose cheer when you are young! Be thankful for your parents, for your bike and the way you look. God’s word puts it this way because God knows how easy it is for you not to be happy. Life is not meant to be lived complaining. It is too short not to be joyful. Second, God says follow your heart and your eyes. WOW. Is this promoting the idea that if you feel like it, just do it, whatever it may be? Or if you see it and want it, get that credit card out? No! God throughout Ecclesiastes shows how wicked that mindset is. So, what does this mean? Well, think of the overarching message of the Bible, the story of God setting us free in Jesus Christ to enjoy life. Jesus gives life more abundantly than sin or Satan ever can. Yes, there are some things we cannot do. We cannot do the opposite of what the Spirit has written on our hearts, or offend people, or grieve Holy Spirit, but creation is left wide open for us to enjoy and do to the glory of God. Third, remember God’s judgment. (v.9b) Enjoying life does not mean leaving God behind and enjoying sin and pride. That is a lie of Satan. Enjoying life is following God and enjoying His way and this includes remembering God’s judgment. Living life for God means remembering 11:9b and 12:13 in the context of Christ. In Christ, we can be forgiven. Suggestion for prayer Confess your sin to God, and ask Him to help you do all you do to the glory of God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 23 – Having joy in your youth (Part 1)

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” - 1 John 2:14 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 In chapter 11:7-10, Solomon highlights the command to live in joy by repeating that life without God is “vanity, vanity.”(v.8b; v.10b). However, living in God’s grace and the fear of God brings a life of joy. Solomon has taught us that living wisely in the fear of God means living in joy. At the conclusion of each of the previous sections in Ecclesiastes, joy has been commanded and God calls us to joy at the end as well. First, Solomon affirms life in all its fullness in v.7. Light is a metaphor for being alive. The living are in the light of the sun, so enjoy them all your years. Of course, how long you will live, the success of your work, how many children you have, what illness will take your life, and all aspects of your future are out of your control, so be joyful while you are young for many dark days will come when you are older (v.8-9). Second, Solomon affirms that the young should live in joy. Verse 9 startles us. Is Solomon being ironic or is he giving a wise principle? The context shows he is giving us a wise principle. Matthew Poole put it this way. “This is serious advice to this purpose: seeing life is short and transitory, improve it to the best advantage, take comfort in it whilst you may, only do it with moderation, and the fear of God.” When we are young we should fear God and live cheerfully. Suggestion for prayer Rejoice in the covenant God has made with our children. Pray they would fear God and enjoy all He gives to them. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 22 – Remember the overarching message of Ecclesiastes

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all.” - Psalm 104:24 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; 11:7-10 To rightly understand the light, joy, freedom, and the “walking in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes” described in Ecclesiastes 11:7-10, we must first remind ourselves of the overarching message of Ecclesiastes. We should not think the evil in this world is this world. Creation and life are God’s gifts and He has come to forgive us our sin to free us to live for Him in this world and enjoy this world. Ecclesiastes points this out over and over again. Solomon sings the praises of work, wife, feasting, drinking wine, generosity, funerals and births. As well in our passage, we see joy all life long, youth, following one’s heart, and removal of vexation from life. Does this seem too physical, too un-spiritual? It is not. Yes, this world is filled with evil, tyranny, disaster, the uncontrollable future and futility in work. There is no pretending in Ecclesiastes. Sometimes, for some more than others, life is not rosy. However, faith teaches us that life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him which includes calling nothing unclean that He has called clean. The grace in Christ and the guidance of the Spirit teaches us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, not to renounce the blessing of God. Jesus came to set us free from sin to enjoy God and all His good gifts. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for your health, for your family, for music and for good things. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 21 – An amazing chocolate factory

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” - 1 Timothy 4:4-5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 This is a wonderful section of Scripture. It describes what the gospel of Jesus does in our lives. I am introducing this Scripture to us with an illustration. Perhaps you have seen the 1971 film, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Five children win golden tickets to visit Willie Wonka’s amazing mysteries candy factory. After the children and some parents arrive at the factory, Wonka takes them to the door leading into his factory. But to everyone’s surprise, it’s a very small, insignificant door. They are all disappointed and cynical and think the whole of Wonka’s factory is loony. However, when Wonka plays the musical combination, the door opens up to a huge, fantastic, grandiloquent, chocolate room full of colors and candy. The door into the room was small from the outside, but the place was magnificent on the inside. This helps us understand how the gospel works. When people are unbelievers they see the Christian life as small, silly and always disappointing. But when you believe in Jesus and are saved, you see the greatness of God, His forgiving grace, and the glorious new life we have with Him in the world He has made. The words in italics are the emphasis of Ecclesiastes 11:7-10. When we are saved by the Lord, we don’t escape this world, we are reintegrated to it to enjoy it in godliness. Read how Paul describes this truth in Colossians 1:18-23 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. Suggestion for prayer Father, grant me the grace to enjoy life in holiness. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Serving others generously today

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:16 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:6 Solomon applies the principle of verse 1 in three ways. First, with faith in God take the risk of serving others. Second, with faith in God take the risk of serving others generously. Today, we explore Solomon’s third application, with faith in God, we take the risk of serving others generously today. Think of the risks farmers take to plant. They could take the seed and sell it or use it for food. Instead, a wise farmer sows in the morning and at night by faith. He does not know if he will prosper, but he sows today! We could hoard our money and time to make sure we always have enough, but then we would not give generously right now. Scripture calls us to give generously to others today (1 John 3:17; James 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-18). For love of others and honor of God go without “me time,” or “money,” or “comfort,” today! Take the risk! Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 and Philippians 4:15-19. God will supply our every need. Consequently, we can give generously today because we can trust God to bring our bread back to us. Meyer wrote, “We are supplied by his abundances. It all comes down to faith. We can be extravagant in our generosity today because God is faithful and abundantly generous.” Christ gave every day of His earthly life. Jesus still gives to us today in heaven. His word still goes forth saying, “Today is the day of salvation”(Hebrews 3:12-15). Suggestion for prayer Ask the Lord to help you see how much He gives to you every day. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 19 – Serving others generously

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:2, 6 Today we explore Solomon’s second application of the principle in verse 1. The first is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. The second is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others generously. Generous giving is what God means in verse 2a. Don’t stop at giving to seven people. Go on giving to eight, nine or eleven. Give to the utmost; be a river of generosity to others. The verse also says, “For you don’t know when a disaster may happen.” This means: be so generous that you give to people even before there is a need! You don’t need a crisis to give to others. We are told in Psalm 112 that the Lord Jesus distributes freely and gives to the poor. He does this all the time and in many ways, not to just seven, but to eight, to nine, to a million. He gives not according to good works, or status. No, Jesus gives generously even in the midst of the greatest disaster on earth, our sinfulness. Maybe we would die for a noble cause or even a noble person, but we wouldn’t take that risk for Adolf Hitler. But while we were wretched sinners Christ died for us! God in Christ did not hold on to His wealth and forget about us. He became poor so that we might be rich. And, He found His investment; He got His bread back! His people and His world are saved and will come into the eternal Kingdom of God. Suggestion for prayer May you make me a cheerful giver, giving even out of my poverty. (2 Corinthians 9:6-10) Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 18 – God’s giving grace

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” – 1 Peter 1:20 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Why does the Lord encourage us to serve others in the language of, “take the risk"? First, in His grace, God confronts us in our sin. We generally think that loving others before ourselves is a losing game.We connive, rationalize, and jockey life so we come out on top. To give to others is often seen as risky business. Of course, godly wisdom practices stewardship, but we all know the self-justifications we’ve made for not helping a person, or not having children, or not sharing our time. Secondly, in His grace, God reveals Himself in verses 1-6. God in Christ cast His bread on the water before the foundation of the world! In Jesus, we see that God took the risk of living for others. He was a sower who sowed the Word. He knew not all the seeds would fall on good ground, but He sowed anyway. God Almighty is not like that foolish servant in the parable of the talents who wouldn’t risk losing his master’s money! No, God in Christ boldly worked for His kingdom and has brought back huge profits. God gave to Israel again and again even though He knew they would reject Him. Imagine, God gave Himself, for from this disobedient people, a virgin conceived and bore a Son. This Son of God served His people to redeem them. God cast His bread on the waters. When we are born again and trust in Jesus, we too take risks to count others more significant than ourselves. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for His inexpressible gift of loving and serving us. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 17 – Take the risk of serving others

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 We learn the principle in verse 1 is to be bold and take risks in serving the Lord. Over the next few days, we will learn the three ways Solomon applies this. First, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. This comes out in the words “give,” and “sow”. Solomon beckoned us to do good (3:12), to work (3:22; 5:18; 8:15), and to please God (2:26). What does this look like? Live generously for others; take that risk and in faith do it. If you spend too much time figuring out if all the conditions are right, you will probably keep back love, friendship and sharing your life. God gave us life and love, our hands, our work, and our lot in life. We don’t know all that will befall us, but we are called to live it in the fear of God. Waiting for the time when everything will be predictable, risk-free and affordable before we give and serve others means we want to be God. However, only God is sovereign and we don’t know how He will work. But, Christian, still take the risk, sow the seed, and serve others. Go to work for your family, have children and spend time with them, sit down to talk with someone who is sad, adopt children, and love your spouse. Remember Jesus’ life of faith. He said, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Suggestion for prayer Pray for humility and to have the mind of Christ. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 16 – A godly principle: take the risk of serving the Lord

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” - Romans 12:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1 Having introduced chapter 11 yesterday, we begin explaining it in detail today. Solomon first states a principle in verse 1 and then applies it in three ways. Today we will learn the principle stated in verse 1. Notice the imagery. Casting your bread on the water seems a risky thing to do. Throw it out there and it will get waterlogged; you’ll never see it again. Yet, Scripture says, “You will find it after many days.” Not that you get it back literally, he is not talking about literal bread, rather it’s a call to be bold, to take risks. Verses 3 &4 give an illustration. When it rains, the rain falls on the earth, a tree lies where it falls, and the wind comes the way it comes because they follow God’s purpose. We can do nothing about when it rains, how a tree falls, or when the winds blow. The point is simple: because we don’t control nature, in life you have to take risks. Notice the call to take risks in verses 5-6. This time it is in light of God Almighty. Solomon is pointing out that God is in control, so we have to go forward by faith. He is sovereign and we don’t know how He will work, but we are still to boldly step out. What risk are we to boldly take? The passage makes it plain. (see v.2a; “sow” v.4a; v.6). Take the risk of serving God and giving to others. God will use you in people’s lives! Suggestion for prayer Pray the Holy Spirit will grant you boldness to serve the Lord today. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 15 – Jesus gave abundantly; let’s do the same

“Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” - 2 Corinthians 8:9 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Recall that we are in the last section of Ecclesiastes (ch.9-12). Ch. 1-8 tells us of the awesome sovereign ways of God. God is in control of life, therefore we fear God and trust him. Ch.9-12 give us, “this-is-what-it-is-to-live-by-faith” points. In chapter 9, we read that life is better than death because the living can live by faith in God, have hope and comfort from God, and enjoy God. In ch.10, we discover that wisdom is superior to foolishness, but no one is perfectly wise all the time so Christians must keep living by faith. Today, we start uncovering chapter 11:1-6. To help us grasp its main message, recollect the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. She was a risk-taking, entrepreneurial person. She saw possibilities in property, crops, in her husband, her children and she didn’t let the fear of winter or too many children stop her from giving generously. She gave because she feared the Lord! She lived by faith in the awe of God, and this caused her to see possibilities. She cast her bread on the water and was a blessing. Our text teaches God’s children to go ahead, cast your bread on the water, taking the risk to live by faith in God and giving generously to people around you. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and being boldly generous and copiously good to our neighbors is a basic part of living by faith in Jesus! Yes, it’s risky to follow Jesus, forgive and love people, but it is Christ-like. The forever-cautious, the forever-burying-gold-coins-in-the-ground so as not to lose anything are anxious, selfish people. Jesus Christ was not selfish. He left heaven and gave generously so we could be saved. Suggestion for prayer Help me Lord to count the cost of serving You and help me to be willing to give all for You. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 14 – Boast in Jesus who is our wisdom

“Asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom.” - Colossians 1:9 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1; 12:13; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Ecclesiastes chapter 10 has been our study this past week and we have learned that God, more than mere wisdom, is the hope of our life. God knew this so He sent us Jesus Christ Who is “the power of God and wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Here is the third application from Ecclesiastes 10. Wisdom is better than foolishness, but we need more than mere wisdom for living, we need God in our lives. God comes to our lives in Christ and when He comes wisdom comes too! In the New Covenant gospel, we have the promise that we will be given wisdom, or to put it another way, we will be given the mind of Christ. This wisdom is not yet complete in us, but it has begun to be formed in us who are Christians. Christ has risen, the Holy Spirit has come, and with His coming at Pentecost has come wisdom. Read Acts 2:17-21. Is this not wisdom? Read Ephesians 5:15-18. This is possible in the gospel. Remember Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. This is now a reality in Jesus Christ. Yes, this wisdom is not perfect in us yet. We will be perfect at the resurrection, but wisdom has started to be formed in us. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31) Suggestion for prayer Pray for the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, so you may know the hope to which God has called you. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 13 – Continue with Jesus

“Looking unto Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith.” – Hebrews 12:2 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10; 12:13 Yesterday, we started giving practical applications of Ecclesiastes 10 to our lives. The first application was to fear and love God, rather than wisdom for its own sake. The second application is simply to live by faith in God Almighty now. Yes, it’s hard to see your slip-ups, your foolish mistakes which brought trouble. It’s hard to live out, “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). But this text tells us we need God. Do you think you would have needed him less if you made all the right choices all the time? No. Wisdom is not the answer. God is, so continue living with Christ as your salvation and hope. Don’t lament those slip-ups, but repent and continue living by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What does Lamentation 3 say, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Did David quit after his sin with Bathsheba? No, he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of salvation.” Continue with Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Our slip-ups can cause us to focus on self. Pray for help to put off sin and look unto Jesus. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 12 – In Christ you are wise

“Count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:8 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10, 12:13 We have studied chapter 10. I am sure you have understood the point that in this fallen world, wisdom can be undone by foolishness on our part. Even the wise need God and must live by faith in God, or as Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “In the fear of God.” Putting chapter 10 together with chapter 12:3 has three profound applications for our lives. First, fear and love God, rather than wisdom for its own sake. Seek wisdom because you seek Christ. Let wisdom be a teacher to bring you to Christ. Yes, wisdom is needed, but you don’t have it all the time. You would not have known foolishness, except by wisdom. Wisdom is the way of blessing, but wisdom is not Christ. You might be living wisely for a while, but then there is that little slip, that hot head, that gossiping which sets you back. Don’t think your wisdom is gospel, flee to Jesus Christ. He is our saving wisdom, the Man who can save the city and He redeems fools. As our saving wisdom, He truly is great, He can and does deliver. He will not be forgotten. He is mightier than the world and He is our righteousness. You can be hot-headed, a wrong judge of character, miscalculate and slip up, but Christ never does. When you believe in Him, His righteous, His calmness, His wise authority, His perfect insight and His righteous use of words, wisdom is given to you! Yes, you are not always wise, but in Christ you are. Suggestion for prayer Count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 11 – Our much talking spoils many good things

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” – Colossians 3:8 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:12-20 Over the past four days, we have looked at practical examples of how our foolish actions can outweigh and spoil wisdom (10:1). The last example is in v.12-20. Talking, talking, talking is foolishness. Wisdom says, “Let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) If you gab, it will get you into trouble. Solomon illustrates this with political life. He and his court were given to the high life (v.18-19), but they always heard the criticisms and gossip because fools multiply words and sooner or later they got back to the king (v.14, 20). How can we slip up even though we know the wisdom which says, “Let your words be few?” By the slip of the tongue! By constant criticism even when you keep it to yourself or by talking on and on. Sooner or later a little bird tells others and you get into trouble. Of course, little birds cannot spread our words, but the point is sometimes we don’t know when to stop talking. We seem to be lost when we talk on and on. We think we can prove a point or assert ourselves with many words. No, we turn people off. Christian, live in the meekness of Christ. Don’t be critical or be a busy body with other peoples’ lives. Few words and kind words build unity in marriages, families and churches. Suggestion for prayer Pray you would love others better than yourself. Loving others keeps our mouths quiet. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 10 – Our miscalculations spoil many good things

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.” - Proverbs 21.5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1, 8-11 It says in Ecclesiastes 9:18, “One sinner destroys much good.” This applies to all of us. Even though we might “know better” we can be foolish (throw a dead fly into the perfume of life), and make things difficult. We always need God! Ecclesiastes has been showing us this with practical examples. We look at verses 8-11 today. It is true; in God’s world wisdom helps us to succeed. Thinking through the costs, drawing the plans, mapping out projections is very, very helpful (Proverbs 21.5). How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? Notice verses 8-10. By our miscalculations, our oversights, or lack of concentration, an entire project can be thwarted. We can dig a pit and fall into it. We get hurt on the job because we didn’t take the time to put our safety boots on that morning. Look at v.11. If the snake handler is wise, he will charm the snake before he handles it. If he doesn’t he will be bitten. A young man was taught to take care of his finances. But two months before the wedding he came across a deal too good to pass up. He bought into it, but it was a scam! Such a small thing, but it brought down so much. Miscalculations and oversights happen all the time. Proverbs 21:5 is true, yet, in this present life, we are not always diligent. Christ Jesus always was. He never miscalculated and He did God’s will perfectly. By His perfect work, we have forgiveness for our foolish miscalculations. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for His unchanging love for you, even when you have miscalculated. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 9 – Foolish leaders spoil many good things

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.” - Matthew 23:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 In this chapter, God is saying we do foolish things which can tear down the wise things we’ve done. The writer proves this point with four practical examples. The example today is in verses 5-7. Not all people in authority are wise! We might think prime ministers, presidents, conference speakers, or pastors with their PhDs are wise, able to teach, lead, and organize for the good of others. Sadly though, halls of power are often upside down. Ignoble people ride noble horses, while noble people walk the ground. People with great influence can often have selfish ambition in their hearts” (James 3:14), consequently spoiling countries, families and churches. How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? By trusting people who are not trustworthy because we want what they have. For example, we go to a particular seminar or conference to learn the key to the Christian life, or how to be a better homeschooler. We trust so and so’s book; after all they are leaders. Yet, in the end, they didn’t bring the peace of Christ to us. They brought us to legalism or antinomianism, or we became self-righteous, or we gave our money to this candidate believing in him, only to hear he was a womanizer. Many times Christians have followed a “movement” only to find disappointment in the end. Christian, don’t follow any movement or man other than Jesus and His movement. Jesus and His truth never disappoint. Suggestion for prayer Pray for your pastor, elders, and deacons. Pray selfish ambition would not spoil them. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 8 – Rage spoils many good things

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” - Ephesians 4:26 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 10:1-4 Yesterday we read of the blessing of wisdom, but in our fallenness, none of us is perfectly wise or appreciates wisdom all the time! We should imagine that the wisdom we might have gained in life, would make us powerful and protect us from all mistakes and slip-ups! In chapter 10, God tells us to turn away from the false, self-righteous idea that a wise person will have a trouble-free, perfect life. Even wise people do dumb things which bring trouble into life. Our Father warns us of this in verse 1! We can do foolish things which can tear down the wise things we’ve done. No matter how wise we might be, we still slip up; we can still be foolish, so we need God! The writer proves this point with four practical examples. Let’s look at the first one in verses 1-4 Being calm and self-controlled in volatile situations, especially before authorities is wise. Fools are inclined to pride and think hot-blooded protest will work. But wisdom says in verse 4, don’t be angry before authority, be calm and self-controlled. How can we slip up even though we know this wisdom? By being a hot-head. Politicians, parents, or pastors in their anger can blow their top. Lack of self-control is the fly in the perfume that makes the perfume stink. As Christians, we know this, yet we often fall. All of us always need the forgiving and sanctifying grace of Jesus. Suggestion for prayer Forgive me, Jesus, when I blow up before others. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 7 – The treasure of wisdom

“Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” - Proverbs 8:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:16-17; 10:2, 10, 12 This Sunday, let’s remember that wisdom is better than might and the words of the wise are better than the shoutings of an unwise ruler. Why is this true? Because scripture tells us. The wise have knowledge about what kind of words to say and when to say them. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). Wisdom enables people to get things done. The man in v.13-15 got things done. Wisdom can help a person in a tight spot and enables a person to get along with others. Foolish people always seem to live a life of drama because they don’t know how to listen and get at the real issue, whereas wisdom inclines a person to truth (10;2a), helps one to succeed (10:10b), and makes a man’s words winsome (10:12). Wisdom is helpful because it also admits that life is complex; that there is black and white, as well as grey, and that which is good, better, and best of all. Well, biblical wisdom helps us discern the best way through the complexity of life. Simply living wisely is living in the Spirit; being enabled to get things done, love people, use your God-given skills, enjoy the gifts of God properly…and to fear God, asking in every situation, “Will this glorify God?” Suggestion for prayer Ask God for wisdom in faith believing (James 1:5-8). Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 6 – Jesus is wisdom from God to save us

“Christ Jesus, who became to us the wisdom from God...” – 1 Corinthians 1:30 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:20 Today we start studying chapter 9:13-10:20. Please read it over two times. This section drives us to fear God and live by faith in Him. It does so by telling us that we should not think that the wisdom we might have from books, seminars, and even Scripture or preaching, makes us powerful and protected from all mistakes and slip-ups! Yes, wisdom is better than foolishness, but even the wisest of us slip up – we always need to trust and fear God. Wisdom is superior to foolishness, but no one is perfectly wise all the time, so Christian, keep living by faith. Let’s begin with chapter 9:13-18. Wisdom is a great thing. Notice the story of verses 14-18. The enemy, with its power, was ready to decimate the city. No one knew what to do! Yet, in the city, there was a poor, yet wise man who knew what to do. From verse 17 we learn that by his wise negotiations he delivered the city. Wisdom is better than might and it helps us to navigate through life. Tomorrow, on the Lord’s Day, we will describe the benefits of God’s wisdom. But for today, remember Christ is our wise Man; He is the wisdom of and from God. Christ has the might and truth to deliver us from our enemies and sin. Suggestion for prayer Ask God to teach you the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 5 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can enjoy life.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:8-10 Aren’t verses 8-10 amazing verses? They are the “application verses” of all we have studied over the past few days. Remember, life is better than death because the living can put their faith, hope, and comfort in God when He saves them in Christ. When God blesses us this way, we have the assurance of His love and this opens us to “enjoy” life. First, we are to enjoy life in the gospel! Look at the images in verses 7-8. They are gospel images. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ. We are to commune with Christ with joy. Being clothed in white represents being clothed in salvation (Revelation 3:4-5, 18). The anointing of oil speaks of the anointing of the Spirit. Secondly, we can enjoy what God has provided (v.9-10). Enjoy your wife, enjoy your work and enjoy your life in God’s name. So go ahead, do as God would want! Eat, drink, love, worship God, work, and whatever you do, do it with all your might as unto the Lord. This is God’s will for you in Christ. The mark of a man of faith, who fears God, is that despite the sufferings and mysteries in life, even despite death, is that he enjoys life as a gift of God. When we are dead, our time for this joy is done. Yes, we will live eternally in heaven, but this life is life too. Suggestion for prayer Sanctify all you do with prayer and enjoy all God has given you. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 4 – Live is better than death. Why? The living can have the comfort of God.

“Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.” – 1 John 3:20 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:7 Faith and hope in the Lord also bring believers the comfort of God. This is the focus of verse 7. How can you be glad in faith when you, by the circumstances of life, cannot tell whether God loves you? Remember the same things can happen to the righteous and to the wicked. The answer is not to look at life’s circumstances for signs of God’s grace and blessing. Instead, the answer is to listen to God’s Word! Scripture says we should examine ourselves, but that test, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, is not according to circumstances or works. It is whether or not you have faith in Christ - that by Christ, God loves you! Faith in Jesus brings comfort to us. Do you want to know what God thinks of you? Read verse 7. “God has already approved what you do.” Believe the gospel of Jesus. In Christ, you are already righteous in God’s sight through faith in Jesus. And what does God think of you who are in Christ? He approves of you and what you do! No, God does not condone sin, but He does love us and accept us in His Son as righteous even when we sin. So when our hearts condemn us, God and His love are greater than our hearts. God turns us back to Himself. He testifies to us by the Spirit that He loves us. What a great comfort. Suggestions for prayer Be thankful that God’s Spirit bears witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 3 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can have the hope of Jesus.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 Today our focus is on chapter 9:4-6. The living can be loved by God and given faith in Christ, but God can also give them the gift of hope! It is the living that can have hope. Meyer: “This hope is the trust, the faith, which the living has in God. If you are still alive, there is this hope of hearing the Word of God in Jesus Christ, the hope of hearing the good news of God, the hope of preparing to meet God by the way God has created, the hope of living for him, the hope of giving a cup of cold water in his name, the hope of rejoicing in the glory of God!” We are not in control of our future. We are sinful and need God’s forgiveness; we will die, so we need to live by faith. However, only the living have the hope of faith. Imagine if you died before “having the eyes of your heart enlightened to know what the hope and riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ are” (Ephesians 1:18). The dead without God can’t know this anymore; their rewards are gone, as is their love, hate, envy and dreams. There is an advantage to being alive…even though there is vanity. Notice again verses 11-12. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the fruit of the Spirit of hope. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 2 – Life is better than death. Why? The living can live by faith.

“The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 Over the next few days, we will be exploring chapter 9:1-12. The basic message is this: Life is better than death because living people can live by faith in God, have hope and comfort from God, and enjoy God. We are first given a call to live by faith in verses 1-6. In giving this call, God first reminds us that God is sovereign. All the deeds of the righteous and wise are in God’s hands, and the deeds of the wicked are before God too. Also, similar events happen to the righteous and to the wicked. God is sovereign. Does God love you?! You cannot answer that question by whether you are sick or healthy, poor or rich, or do certain good works because the same event happens to the good and to the evil. Can we assert, “God loves only these kinds of people,” or “God can’t love me, I’m so bad,” or “God must love me, look at my kids?” No. Human experience or good works do not decide whether God loves you and will save you. God is sovereign. See verse 2 and verses 11-12. Man is terribly sinful; madness is in his heart. Our future under the sun is unknowable and uncontrollable by us. So the call on us is to live by faith in the Lord. God loves His people and we know we are His loved people when He gives us faith to live for the Lord in life. Suggestion for prayer Pray for the fruit of the Spirit of faith. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 1 – Introducing our study of Ecclesiastes 9-12

Earlier, my devotionals explored God’s message from Ecclesiastes chapters 1-7. The devotional meditations for March 2021 will continue our readings in Ecclesiastes, particularly Ecclesiastes chapters 9-12. Before we begin let’s remind ourselves of the author of Ecclesiastes, its overarching themes, and the general outline of the book. Solomon, by the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote this book. He is the son of David, king in Jerusalem (1:1, 16). The title means “the Preacher” or “one who assembles.” Solomon was an assembler of the people (12:9-11). Near the end of his life (around 930 BC), he assembled the people together to hear Ecclesiastes! Wisdom, joy, the fear of God, the sovereignty of God, and repentance are the overarching themes. Therefore, Ecclesiastes preaches Jesus to us. After all, Jesus is the wisdom and joy of God who sovereignly rules, and is the reason why people repent of sin to live life with meaning. Welcome back to Ecclesiastes “...but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” – 1 Peter 2:25b Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6; 12:9-14; 1 Peter 2:21-25 Ecclesiastes can be divided into four distinct sections. 1 – Chapters 1-2 Life without God is vanity. However, life lived in Christ brings meaning and joy. In God, wisdom, pleasure, knowledge, and possessions are gifts to enjoy for God’s glory. 2 – Chapters 3-5 The overarching theme is: God is sovereign over our lives. Our lot in life is His will for us (3:11a, 17b, 22; 5:2b, 18-19). 3 – Chapters 6-8 Life brings us face to face with tragedies. Solomon speaks about evil and the wicked (6:1,2, 7:15, 17, 25; 8:3,5, 8, 10-11, 13-14). However, God is sovereign over all and we do not always know why he allows what happens to us. (7:14, 25-29; 8:17). The conclusion to which God drives us is in chapter 8:10-17 – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. 4 – Chapters 9-12 This is the section we will study this month. Notice chapter 9:1. “But all this I laid to heart, examining it all.” “All this,” means all the breadth and depth of human life. All the awesome sovereign ways of God spoken of in chapter 1-8, he has lain to heart. Now he gives some concluding, “this-is-what-it-is-to-live-by-faith” points. These come from what he has said and drive us to confess the life of faith described in chapter 12:13-14. The conclusion is: live by faith in God, and though life is not always explainable, God can be trusted through it all…Christ is our One Shepherd to guide us so rejoice and live by his Word. Suggestions for prayer Pray we would examine life and understand we must live it by faith. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....