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Daily devotional

June 18 – A Spirit-filled life is always thankful

...giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:20 Scripture reading: Luke 17:11-19 How can one know if the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our lives? Ephesians 5:20 answers that evidence of a Spirit-filled life is one of continual thankfulness to God for all things. Acknowledging God’s sovereignty, His providence, His goodness and faithfulness that He will provide all things necessary for body and soul, in life and in death, the Spirit-filled Christian is always thankful to God from Whom all blessings flow. And yet, do we always give thanks? Are we perhaps like the nine lepers who were healed by Jesus, but failed to give a word of thanks? They had no desire to worship Him or to give thanks. How can that be? And yet, how often don’t we have to remind our children or even ourselves to say, “please and thank-you.” How much more, ought we who are filled with the Spirit, to always give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In good times, we can become proud or complacent and neglect to give God thanks. In times of sorrow and suffering, we can be so consumed with our unpleasant circumstances that we fail to see God’s hand working all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and we neglect to give thanks. Being thankful is not dependent on our circumstances, but is a matter of the heart – a Spirit-filled heart. Yes indeed, let us count our blessings one by one and give thanks! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart filled with the Holy Spirit that we may give thanks always for all things and in all circumstances. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 17 – A Spirit-filled life sings

...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord... – Ephesians 5:19 Scripture reading: Psalm 150 How can we know if the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our lives? Ephesians 5:19 answers this by declaring that evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, is the joy of the Lord which we possess in our hearts and which comes to expression in our worship of God. As Christians, we have every reason to worship and to sing praises to our God. We sing of His wonderful work of creation, His sovereignty and His providence. We sing of His wonderful work of salvation through the life and death of His Son. We sing of the victory over the powers of sin and evil by His resurrection. We sing of the future glory that awaits us when we will join with the heavenly choir of angels and saints, praising and glorifying God together in heaven. The music and songs of the church are not about what we like or our personal preferences, but are about what pleases the Lord. The aim of our singing and worship must always be the glory of our God. Music and songs that honour the Lord will also be a blessing to His people. We do well to remember too, that our joy in the Lord and our Spirit-filled response of singing unto the Lord is not determined by our circumstances in life. Paul and Silas sang to the Lord as they were sitting in prison. A Spirit-filled heart rejoices in the LORD always and SINGS. Suggestions for prayer May it be the desire of our Spirit-filled hearts to worship our God by singing together to His praise and glory. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 16 – Be fill with the Spirit, not wine

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit... – Ephesians 5:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:29-35 The Bible does not condemn the occasional drink in moderation. Rather, what is condemned is excessive drinking to the point of drunkenness. Why do people overindulge? Some get drunk to fit in with those of the world, but in doing so they alienate themselves from God. Some get drunk thinking it will make them happy when it only brings an artificial happiness. Some get drunk to escape reality and the problems of life when in fact, it provides only a temporary escape. Some get drunk in an attempt to drown the sorrows or sins of the past only to compound their sin and misery. Every picture of drunkenness in the Bible is a picture of sin and misery. Sadly, alcohol addiction is a real and increasing problem in our Christian churches and families. Rather than getting drunk or resorting to some other kind of addictive habit such as drugs, self-harm, pornography, sex, etc... God’s Word commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As one author noted, “Be filled is passive, not active”. It is not something we can do. God must do it. But we are responsible to seek that state of fullness.”  People who become drunk are ruled by the bottle unto ruin. People filled with the Spirit are ruled by the Spirit unto a life of blessedness to the praise and glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those with addictive, destructive habits. Pray to be filled more and more by the Spirit to live a Spirit-filled, God-honoring and glorifying life in dependence upon the Spirit. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 15 – Walk in wisdom

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:15-21; Psalm 1 Commanded to be imitators of God, we are now being commanded to watch how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise. As the elect of God, redeemed in Christ, born again of the Spirit, every step must be consistent with who we are as dear children of our heavenly Father. We do not walk in the ways and wisdom of the world. We do not subscribe to the false ideologies of ungodly men. Rather, as Christians, every step in life is made in submission to the Word and will of God. Every step is made with the intention to fulfill our created purpose, namely to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Yes indeed, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Psalm 1 calls such a man who walks in the wisdom of the LORD “blessed.” But notice the urgency, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Redeem the time means to buy back the opportunity to love and serve Christ and His Church. We are to do it now because the number of our days here on earth are short and the days are evil. Given the times in which we now live, let us pursue wisdom, God’s wisdom, that we may reflect the wisdom of God in our daily walk as His dear children, as living witnesses for Christ until He comes again. Suggestions for prayer May God by His Spirit lead us and guide us in our daily walk with Him. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 14 – The challenge to children of light

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. – Ephesians 5:11 Scripture reading: 1 John 1:5-10 God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Therefore, as beloved children of God, we are now commanded not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Paul has already mentioned some of these deeds of darkness earlier in chapters 4 and 5. Therefore, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Light and darkness are incompatible. How can we bear witness for the God of light when we ourselves walk in darkness or engage in the deeds of darkness or even associate with them? Such hypocrisy ruins not only the reputation of those claiming to be Christians, but gives occasion for unbelievers to blaspheme the God of light and brings shame upon the name of Christ and His Church. Notice, the command in verse 11 has a second part “but rather expose them.”  The deeds of darkness must be exposed. We are not to be silent bystanders. Why? As it says in verse 14, that those asleep in the deeds of darkness must be called to repent of their evil ways that they may turn and live. It is our hope and prayer that sinners engaged in the unfruitful deeds of darkness may come to know the saving grace of God through Christ Jesus; that they too may be light-bearers of the God of light to the praise and glory of His Name. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may more and more put to death the deeds of darkness and walk in the light as imitators of the God of light. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 13 – Characteristics of children of light

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:8-14 What are the characteristics of this walk as children of light? They are defined here as: goodness, righteousness and truth. The first characteristic “goodness” has to do with moral excellence, benevolence, the act of willing and sacrificial service for others. Goodness is the outward manifestation of the spiritual condition of a Spirit-transformed heart. The second characteristic “righteousness” has to do with right or moral living. It means to know the right, to love the right and to walk in all righteousness. Those who are made righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ are commanded to live righteously, Corum Deo, before the face of God.  The third characteristic “truth” has to do with honesty, trustworthiness and integrity. It means to know and to love the truth of God’s Word. We must learn to distinguish truth from what is false, good from evil, using God’s Word as our absolute standard of truth. We must not only exhibit these characteristics as children of light, but we must continue to grow in them “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” What better place to do so than by gathering together to worship God on this, the Lord’s Day?  What better place to do so than to be under the faithful preaching of God’s Word. As we manifest these fruits of the Spirit, we bear resemblance to the heavenly Father Who is our light and our salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may more and more exhibit the fruit of the Spirit and be encouraged through the preaching of God’s Word to walk as children of light.    Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 12 – Walk as children of light

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10; 5:8-14 In verses 1-7, we are commanded to be imitators of God’s love. And now, in verses 8-14, we are commanded to be imitators of God walking as children of light. The apostle Paul begins by reminding these new converts of their former status, “For you were once darkness…” In chapter 2, Paul gives us a portrait of their former way of life prior to their coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ. They were alienated from God. They walked in spiritual and moral darkness. They not only walked in darkness, but they were darkness personified and loved the darkness. But now, by the grace of God, their former way of life is a thing of the past. Born again of the Spirit, their once spiritually dead hearts are made alive in Christ. God called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. GRACE has afforded them a new life!  Grace has set them upon a new road, with a new purpose and a new eternal destination to the praise and glory of God. On account of God’s marvelous grace and their spiritual transformation by the Holy Spirit, God now issues a command, “WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!  What were you – past tense? For you “were” once darkness. And now, what are you?  “You are light in the Lord.”  Therefore, “Walk as children of light!” Amazing grace! Suggestions for prayer Help us to realize just how amazing grace really is, that we are no longer darkness, but are light in the Lord, called to walk as children of light. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 11 – Do not be partakers with them

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:5-7 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 As dear children of our heavenly Father, we must NOT join with those of the world who are engaged in such sins and wickedness. We are NOT to be partakers with them who are at enmity with God and who defy the ways and wisdom of God. God commands us, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” God calls us to be holy, that is, called by God, unto God, for God, to the praise and glory of God. We live in two very opposing worlds while serving two very different masters with different beliefs, values, goals, motives and lifestyles. We cannot attempt to live life with one foot in the kingdom of God and the other in the world. In James 4:4 we read, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  The warning is repeated in 1 John 1:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” What accord has Christ with the Belial?  Do not be a partaker with them. Suggestions for prayer Help us by your grace and Spirit not to love the world or to imitate the world by being partakers with the world, but rather help us to be imitators of God as His dear children.      Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 10 – The consequences

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. – Ephesians 5:5-6 Scripture reading: Romans 6:15-23 Here we note the seriousness of God’s warning. Those who do not believe in Jesus and who do not walk as dear children of the heavenly Father will not inherit the kingdom of God. Rather than imitating God, they imitate Satan, the father of all lies and deception. They walk according to the patterns of this world. They walk in the lust of their flesh. Consequently, unless they repent, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. As imitators of God, there is no place for immorality or filthiness of thought, deed or language. And yet, when we sin, as inevitably we all will, we must repent, turning from our sinful ways and strive all the more with the gracious help of the Holy Spirit to be imitators of God’s love. People today may tolerate sexual immorality. But rest assured, God doesn’t. People today may dismiss foul language and laugh at filthy jokes, but rest assured, God isn’t amused or laughing. There are two very different paths, with two very different lifestyles, with two different masters and with two very different destinations. So don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived by the world’s view of morality or fun, because God’s standard of righteousness and judgment revealed in His Word hasn’t changed. Friends of the world, imitators of Satan, will spend eternity with him in hell. Therefore, do NOT be deceived. Heed the warning. Imitate Christ! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit that we may more and more forsake sin and seek righteousness. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 9 – Conduct not fitting for the Christian

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving thanks. – Ephesians 5:3-4 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 To be imitators of God’s love is no doubt a great challenge; a challenge because our old sinful nature is not always so loving; a challenge because the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And yet, when we are born again by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit, this ungodly conduct is not only inappropriate, but should not even be named among Christians. These vices are unbecoming of those called to be saints, those separated unto God as His dear children for whom Christ died. Rather than engaging in these vices of the flesh, we should be actively engaged in giving thanks to God. We ought to give thanks to God for His gift of love in sending us His Son, Who has fully paid for all our sins with His precious blood, and has set us free from the tyranny of the devil. Because we belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit assures us of eternal life and makes us whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him. When our hearts and minds are filled with an appreciation of all the blessings which we, in Christ possess, our lips respond with praise and thanksgiving. Paul not only lists the vices that are not fitting for Christians, but he responds with the one virtue that sums up the Christian’s life. Thanks be to God! Suggestions for prayer Let us pray that we may put off the works of the flesh and walk by the Spirit. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 8 – Walk in love as Christ also loved us

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5:2 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 How much does Jesus love us? He humbled Himself leaving the place of glory in heaven, not only to dwell among sinners, but He took upon Himself our human nature, sin excepted. He was despised and rejected by men, beaten, scourged, spat upon, crucified, endured the wrath of God, died and was buried all for the sake of our salvation. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He offered up the supreme, the all-sufficient sacrifice pleasing unto the LORD. How can we even begin to grasp the magnitude of the love of Christ toward us sinners? We simply can’t. And now, to us, as dear children of the Father, in Christ, as those redeemed by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, the command is given, “Be imitators of God.” Love as the Father loves - sending His Son. Love as the Son loves – sacrificially, by laying down His own life to give us life, abundant life, now and in eternity. See in the love of the Son, the love of God the Father for us. Wow! What a standard! May others see God’s love through our love, a sacrificial love, following the supreme example of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Help us to love others as God, in Christ, loves us. Help us to see that lovelessness is a sin from which we must repent. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 7 – Walk in love

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5:2 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-21 Here, in verse 2, we are commanded by God to walk in love. Do this! Walk in love! Be imitators of God by your walk in love. What does the love of God look like? We are told in 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. And this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  And now, having defined love, we are given the command in verse 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  We are not to love as the world loves, but rather, we are to love as God has manifested His love toward us undeserving sinners. His love is one of self-sacrifice and self-denial. But notice as well, the command in verse 21, “And this commandment we have from Him: that He who loves God must love his brother also.” Here again, we are to walk in love!  How can we readily identify the children of God? By their God-like love toward others! Suggestion for prayer Pray for the Holy Spirit to create in us a pure heart, a heart that truly loves God and expresses this God-like love toward our neighbor. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 6 – To be imitators of God presupposes we know God

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Romans 10:14-21 To be imitators of God, as dear children, presupposes that we know God. We cannot become more God-like apart from gaining a deeper and richer appreciation of the person and work of our God. We cannot imitate someone we don’t know. We come to know God through our family devotions and through our personal reading and studying of God’s Word. But are we growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord our God?  Are we making the time in the busyness of life to better know our God? OR, are we perhaps too busy, like Martha, tending to the daily necessities of life that we supposedly have no time to be more like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen and learn from His Word? Today is the Lord’s Day. Today we gather together as God’s covenant people to worship our God. A central part of our worship is to sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word. The Word preached directs us to God’s wonderful work of redemption in Christ Jesus our Saviour. The Word, through the work of the Spirit, informs us and transforms us to be imitators of God. As one author put it, “We pray that God will also use our preaching to produce such a knowledge of God’s will that others will live to please him and will produce spiritual fruit, resulting in an ever-growing knowledge of their God.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will continue to call and equip men to faithfully proclaim the Word of God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 5 – Be imitators of God as dear children

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Romans 8:12-17 We’ve all heard it said, “Boy, he’s a spitting image of his father.”  Or, “The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.”  We use these kinds of expressions to communicate the idea of just how much a child is a mirror image of his or her father or mother. There are certain characteristics, mannerisms, attitudes and conduct so similar to that of the parents that there is no case of mistaken identity. But then, can that also be said of us as children of our God, “He is a spitting image of his Father in heaven?” Can it be said of us that we are a mirror image of our heavenly Father? Can it be said of us that our characteristics, our attitude, and our conduct are so similar to that of our heavenly Father, that there is no doubt that we are dear children of our Father? Can it be said of us – I see the family resemblance. Adopted by grace through Jesus Christ, we are dear children of our heavenly Father and must no longer live as those belonging to the world, but rather, we are to live as members of the household of faith into which we have been adopted. There is to be no case of mistaken identity that we are dear children of our Father! Suggestions for prayer As dear children of our heavenly Father may we more and more be imitators of God Whom we are privileged to call “our Father.” Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 4 – Be imitators of God’s forgiveness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Matthew 18:21-35 Following the reading of the Law in our liturgy is the Assurance of Pardon whereby we are reminded that God is a merciful God, Who in Christ Jesus forgives us all our sins. As it says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In like manner, we are commanded to imitate God by forgiving those who acknowledge and confess their sins and ask for our forgiveness. In all such cases, we must forgive. As in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, we who are the recipients of God’s mercy, who have been forgiven this enormous debt, must then also forgive others their relatively minor infractions committed against us. Forgiving others is most basic to imitating the very nature of a merciful and forgiving God. But then, we often find ourselves to be much more like the unmerciful servant in the parable. We’re unforgiving. We hold grudges. We seek revenge. We gossip and slander. And yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us about such an unforgiving spirit “But if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  As Christians, we must reflect the forgiving nature of our forgiving God by forgiving others. Suggestions for prayer May we imitate the forgiving spirit of our Father in heaven Who in Christ so freely forgives us. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 3 – Be imitators of God’s tenderheartedness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Luke 10:25-37 Being tender-hearted can also be defined as being compassionate, big-hearted, showing pity, sorrow, sympathy and having empathy toward those who are suffering or in need. This tender-heartedness or compassion prompts us into action. It’s not enough to have compassion only to walk away and do nothing. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God’s compassion upon His covenant people when they were enslaved in Egypt and wandered the desert for forty years. In spite of their constant murmuring, rebellion and unfaithfulness a tender-hearted God was long-suffering. He provided for all their needs. He protected them and delivered them into the Promised Land. Throughout the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ compassion for the poor, the sick, the hungry and the social outcasts. The pinnacle of Jesus’ compassion was His response to our need for a Saviour by laying down His own life on Calvary’s cross, as an atoning sacrifice for all our sin. Being tender-hearted is more than just feelings – it is compassion put into action. As the Parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates, we don’t just walk around the physically and spiritually needy, but we rise to the occasion to actually help others in their need. Being tender-hearted often involves commitment and sacrifices. It often comes at a personal price. Since God is so tender-hearted toward us undeserving sinners, how much more, as imitators of God, should we not also be tender-hearted and compassionate toward others? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may be big-hearted Christians who show the compassion and love of Christ to those in need. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 2 – Be imitators of God’s kindness

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:25-5:1 Verse 1 begins with, “Therefore” which connects what follows with what precedes it, “And be kind to one another….” We are to be imitators of God in kindness which is one of the attributes of God (Titus 3:4). Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Kindness is also a characteristic of true love as defined by God (1 Corinthians 13:4). To be kind means to be useful, serving, pleasant and gracious. It is to be other-oriented. It is to be gracious and gentle in our attitudes, actions and speech toward others. Interestingly, the catalyst for Rosaria Butterfield’s radical conversion was the kindness of a local pastor. Earlier in Ephesians 2:7 we read, “…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  God’s kindness toward us undeserving sinners is displayed in His wonderful gift of salvation. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. So too, we are to imitate the kindness of our heavenly Father toward others. But then, in this day and age of entitlement, of self-love and virtual relationships are we still imitators of God’s kindness?   Do our thoughts, words and deeds reflect the lovingkindness of our God that we are commanded to imitate?  “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour” (Proverbs 21:21 ESV). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will produce in us, hearts of kindness to grace our thoughts, words and deeds toward others, that imitate the kindness of our God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of June

Looking back over 27 years of ministry, I’ve come to realize one of the great challenges as Christians is to be consistent in our daily walk with the Lord. Chosen by the Father, redeemed in Christ, born again and sanctified by the Holy Spirit – all by grace, how must we now live Corum Deo, before the face of God? How are our lives as Christians to be uniquely different from those of the world? How? Ephesians 5 provides the answer. We are to be imitators of God. We are to walk in love. We are to walk in light. We are to walk in wisdom. What does that look like? Well, let’s walk through these passages together in the coming month. It is also my goal to write these devotionals simple enough for children and young people to engage in further discussion together during family devotions. Be imitators of God Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5:1 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:1-7 God, through the apostle Paul, issues a command, “Therefore be imitators of God…”  Notice, God is not merely making a helpful suggestion or offering believers some good advice for our careful and prayerful consideration. No, this is a command. Do this! The word translated here as “imitator” is from the Greek word meaning “to mimic” or “to copy”. God is actually commanding us to mimic or copy Him. We are to be just like Him. The command to be God-like takes us back to the dawn of creation.“Then God said. “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God is the eternal Creator and we are but mere creatures, and yet, God created us in His image and likeness to be just like Him. To be made in God’s image means that, as prophets, we can know God and tell others the truth about God and everything He has made and done. As priests, we can offer ourselves to God in our service of love and obedience to Him. As kings, we can fight against sin and evil and rule with God over the works of His creation. The creation of man in God’s image at the dawn of creation indicates that we were created by God to be imitators of God to His praise, glory and honor. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you more and more to be the image-bearer of God that He created you to be. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....