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Daily devotional

Wednesday September 26 – The strength of the Holy Spirit

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:1-5 The last petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” is defined by the Heidelberg Catechism: “Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of Your Holy Spirit…” (Q. 127). Scripture conveys the gospel in superior tones. We hear the comforting words of Elisha conveyed to his servant in trial: “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16), and the servant’s eyes of faith are opened to God’s power. The devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking those he might devour, yet Scripture calls us to resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9) — not in our own strength, but because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” It is a blessing for us to know that when we have been made new by Christ’s Spirit, we need not fall for the devil’s deceit. When we do not, it goes to show that the Spirit of truth is at work in us. When God is with us, who can be against us? Suggestions for prayer Pray daily for the Lord’s supply of His Spirit to empower you to serve Him well. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Tuesday September 25 – The sacraments and the sealing Spirit of Christ

… is the guarantee of our inheritance…. – Ephesians 1:14 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:11-14 The Holy Spirit regenerates, but He also supplies assurance for our faith. When we know Christ as our Saviour and Lord, we confess that “Christ by His Holy Spirit assures us of eternal life” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1). The Spirit’s very presence that enables us to make the good confession of Christ is an assurance to us of better things to come as Ephesians 1:13-14 remind us—the Holy Spirit is a seal and guarantee. The Spirit assures us in various ways, but one of them is through the sacraments. Christians confess that the Holy Spirit “confirms through our use of the holy sacraments” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 65). While “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 8:17), the Spirit uses the signs and seals of the sacraments to bolster the trustworthy word of God so that we might serve our God and Saviour with an assurance that contrasts the world of uncertainty. God gives us two sacraments which are sufficient for the Spirit to assure us that the gospel is not just for us, but for all those He has called. Suggestions for prayer Pray with thanks to the Lord that you can live under the assurance of His grace, an assurance that the Holy Spirit promotes by the use of the sacraments in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Monday September 24 – The renewing of the Holy Spirit

… have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. – Colossians 3:10 Scripture reading: Colossians 3:5-12 The Heidelberg Catechism begins its gratitude section by declaring that Christ “redeemed us by His blood” (Question 86), but then says that “Christ by His Spirit is also renewing us to be like Himself.” The Heidelberg Catechism describes renewal as “genuine repentance or conversion” (Question 88). Our passage does not speak explicitly of the Spirit, but it does speak of what He accomplishes in His people, the dying of the old and the living to the new. This renewal involves every possible relationship we can know — our thanksgiving to God, our praise of God, our personal assurance and our love for our neighbors. Our status before God has forever changed when we have been made right with God through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. However, we are also called to daily change by way of the Holy Spirit. That daily change becomes further evidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ has made a true difference in how we live and what we believe. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit of Christ might be at work in you so that you and others may more and more see the holy changes that the Lord has called you to display in light of His grace to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Sunday September 23 – Unity in the one Spirit

For through we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. – Ephesians 2:18 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:12-22 Christ not only governs as eternal King by His Word and Spirit, He also saves through His Word and Spirit a community united in true faith (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 54). When we speak of the holy catholic church, we can be consoled to know that the unity of the church is realized, not by us, but by the grace of God: “Through we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). In response, we can find it so much easier to promote church unity when we remember that no matter who we are, the reason that we belong to the church of Jesus Christ as a living member is not because of who we are, but because of what the Holy Spirit has done for us. One Spirit makes us all members of His church; the more we appreciate that, the more we will treat each other like brothers and sisters in the family of God and promote the unity of the church that is realized by Jesus Christ, Who by one Spirit gives to us access to the Father in heaven. Suggestions for prayer As you go to worship the Lord with others today, pray that God may grant you the ability to be a promoter of true Christian unity with others who worship with you in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Saturday September 22 – The governance of the Holy Spirit

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…. – John 14:16-17a Scripture reading: John 14:15-17 The reign of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ allows for the descent of the Holy Spirit. The governing of the Spirit is described in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 12, as connected with the royalty of Christ, Who “governs us by His Word and Spirit.” The governing of Christ, by His Spirit, is never detached from Christ’s ruling word that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet, people have perverted Christ’s rule in the Spirit by viewing the work of Christ’s Spirit as chaotic. They view the truly “spiritual person” as the one who is out of his natural mind — yet, he is the envy of all ordinary Christians. Being governed by the Spirit, however, should be viewed by Christians as the Spirit’s power enabling us to live in self-controlled obedience and gratitude to God. Reverential living may seem ordinary, but in a sin-cursed world, it is not; it is the extraordinary work of Christ, Who governs us by His Word and Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord with gratitude when Christian virtues of faith, hope and love have been made evident in your life by the Spirit. Pray that such virtues may continue to be born in you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Friday September 21 – The anointing of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. – Isaiah 61:1 Scripture reading: Luke 4:14-21 Anointing is not a modern practice. In Bible days, anointing was more common, but yet special. Scripture gives sufficient examples of those anointed as prophets, priests and kings. Anointing symbolized God’s authorization by way of His Holy Spirit. Those anointed were consecrated to special work within the covenant community—proclamation, intercession, or acts of dominion. Rarely would those offices be combined; however, in the coming of Jesus Christ, we find these offices united in the Word of God, Who would become the Royal Priest of His people, even as Jesus quotes and expounds from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4. In the aftermath of the triumph of Christ, the followers of Christ come to be known as Christians (Acts 11:26), and are endowed with a united anointing of their own (1 John 2:20, 27) which reflects the unique anointing of Christ. As Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit, so are Christians, to confess Christ (prophet), to be living sacrifices (priests) and to strive against sin (royalty, Lord’s Day 12). It is a special calling to reflect Christ; be mindful of this special calling daily! Suggestions for prayer Pray to God that the He might use you mightily to serve in the Christian offices in which He has placed you by His Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Thursday September 20 - The new birth of the Spirit

Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again." – John 3:7 Scripture reading: John 3:1-15 Scripture talks to us about the proclamation of Christ crucified as a “stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is that way because “we are so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and are inclined toward all evil” (Heidelberg Catechism Question 8), “unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God” (Answer 8). The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, but apart from the Spirit of God, that purpose escapes us. The creation declares the glory of God, but the un-regenerate never see it. It sobers us as Christians when we long for transformation in people’s lives and that change does not come. We cannot compel people to be born again, but we can continue to compel others to be reconciled to God, praying for the Spirit to be at work with His gospel. It is a joy to see people walking in the gospel truth. It would be a joy to find you as one of those believers today, thanks to the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit! Suggestions for prayer: Be in prayer for a world without Christ, that God might work mightily in the spreading of His gospel to bring new life to many in Jesus Christ by way of His Holy Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Wednesday September 19 – The assurance of the Spirit

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…. – Romans 8:16 Scripture reading: Romans 8:12-16 In the final third of this month, we will consider references from the Heidelberg Catechism to the Holy Spirit. The first reference in the Catechism says, “Christ by His Holy Spirit assures us of eternal life” (Question 1). Many copies of the Heidelberg Catechism refer us here to Romans 8:16, where we read that along with the Holy Spirit’s ability to make us God’s children, He works with our spirit to make us aware that we are indeed God’s children. The Christian confession is always outward with the mouth, but first established inwardly in the heart: “With the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:10). False professions leave many with false assurances about their relationship with God. However, when the Holy Spirit testifies with the human spirit, a double testimony results within the human heart that leads to an outward, true and assured profession of Christ. God, by His mercy, continues to provide assurances to us as Christians that we are His children in Jesus Christ. Only with such assurances can we be ready and willing to live for Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord that your life might be lived, not as someone who hopes to be a child of God, but as one who is assured that it is so. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Tuesday September 18 – The fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL (5)

The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Christian self-control bears with it many virtuous conclusions: Self-control has long-term goals of pleasing God and values imperishable prizes. Paul says that the athlete devotes himself to self-control to win a perishable prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Paul says that those who know that the imperishable crown of Christ is ahead will run a spiritual race greater than the temperate athlete. Self-control avoids abuses and excesses, lest it loses control. Too much alcohol and you lose control; too many wrong words and you devour one another. Blessing is found in the Spirit, not in excesses. Self-control is a sign of order in our lives. Proverbs 16:23 says: “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Refusing to over-react shows that we know Who has our times in His hands. We can be more in control of our lives in a temperate way when we know Who really is in control of our lives, the Spirit of Christ. He shows us, like no other, what it means to be loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Suggestions for prayer Pray thankfully for God’s fruitful virtues at work in your life in Christ. Pray that the fruit of the Spirit may be born in increasing fashion in your life with each new day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Monday September 17 – The fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL (4)

The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Matthew 26:47-56 Self-control flows from gentleness and meekness. Being gentle and self-controlled go together. It takes the power of the Spirit to be gentle; it takes the same power to control ourselves. Self-control is a reflection of God and His Christ. God describes Himself as “slow to anger” (Ex. 34:6). Were God quick to anger, He could not pardon our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. We see the self-control of Christ in the temptations of Matthew 4. In Matthew 26:53-54 we find even greater self-control: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53-54). Christ’s greatest display of self-control was to remain on the cross. Jesus never ran ahead of God. For the joys that were set before Him, He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). His example is why we are called to self-control, called to keep our eyes on Christ in the short-term trials now and not give up on the long-term plans that God has for us in Christ. Those truths will lead us into one more set of conclusions on self-control tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Ponder the restraint of God and His Christ and pray that the Lord will help you to appreciate God’s restraint in your life, and to reflect all the more Christ’s restraint for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Sunday September 16 – The fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL (3)

The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:1-15 Self-control has many edifying virtues: Self-control does not get ahead of itself. When people are out of control, they get ahead of themselves and God. Not controlling ourselves within the bounds of marriage is an example of getting ahead of ourselves. Commitment is supposed to come before consummation between a man and a woman, but when consummation comes before commitment, we have turned the order of marriage upside-down. Pre-marital sex is wrong, as God declares because it is a chaotic act; it goes against God’s order and when we go against God’s order, life gets complicated. Self-control is the expression of the liberty of the new life in Christ. All the works of the flesh, found in Galatians 5, are acts against self-control because they all seek to satisfy our sinful selfishness. Christian freedom, on the other hand, asks, “How can I please God and others by way of self-restraint?” Christian freedom is not meant to take us out of control, but to put us in control of ourselves so that God is pleased in the process. Self-control expresses the liberty we now have as servants of Christ. Suggestions for prayer As you hear the gospel today in worship, pray that the Lord might grant unto you the insight from His word to put God’s timing before the temptations of mere momentary satisfaction. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Saturday September 15 – The fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL (2)

The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control – Galatians 5:22-23  Scripture reading: Titus 2:1-14 When we find ourselves controlling our tongue, appetites and tempers, we are in control of our lives as God designed. One of the ways that we can view the Spirit at work in us is if we find ourselves more and more in control of ourselves. If we are, we're showing ourselves to be living a sanctified life, where the fruit and presence of the Spirit are evident in our lives. We share a few more ways that Christian self-control is edifying: Self-control respects marriage, the family and the individual. Self-control is more than sexual, but it is certainly that. 1 Corinthians 7:9 says, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.” Part of the antonyms of self-control in Galatians 5 includes immorality, impurity and indecency. When we do not exercise self-control sexually, we disrespect marriage, families of those over whom we might lust, and we disrespect the one who is not our spouse. Self-control gets a boost when we remember that marriage is a sanctified institution established by God. Marriage is to be honoured because we honour God who established it. In the same way, we honour the families that God has established in His supreme wisdom. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you appreciate the sanctity of marriage so that the fruit of self-control might bear greatly in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Friday September 14 – The fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL (1)

The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Titus 2:1-14 Most of us have heard the saying, “business before pleasure.” Duty calls! Pleasures can be a blessing, but we should also be pleased to prioritize the responsibilities that God has placed before us. To put our business before pleasure requires us to exercise self-control. Self-control puts the pleasure of the Lord and neighbour before our own; it rounds out nicely with the fruit of the Spirit that begins with God's love toward us in order that we can practice this self-control. It might be obvious to say that being out of control is not a fruit or gift of the Spirit. Yet the impression left by some is that if one is truly empowered with the Spirit of God, one undergoes an out-of-control experience because, supposedly, God is in control, not you. Yet, the Spirit of God has come into the lives of His people so that they might exercise control. The word that is used for self-control literally means “having power over” someone or something. The Christian has had his once-chaotic life replaced with an orderly one. That leads to other good conclusions that we can take up in our next two devotionals. Suggestions for prayer Pray today and often that the Lord will bring increasing order to your life since you have been made a new creation in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Thursday September 13 – The fruit of the Spirit: GENTLENESS (3)

The fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness…. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Philippians 4:10-20 It is not natural to have the gracious spirit of gentleness. It is not natural for us to want to praise others; what is natural is to see others as a threat to our own praise. Yet, gentleness grows with faith that God has graciously supplied in Christ; and supply He will. It believes that God has not shortchanged us — nor that He will. He will graciously supply what we need in accordance with His glorious riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19). Gentleness, then, need not be self-absorbed; rather, it is self-sacrificial like God and His Christ. Galatians 6:1 commands that if we are “spiritual” we “should restore in a spirit of gentleness.” This is the way of Christ to us; this is the way we are to be with others. Gentleness remembers that we are not treated as our sins deserve as we come before God and come before other people. When we are true believers in Christ, we cannot help but testify: “How gentle God has been to us in Christ!” May that gentle impact be found in us more and more for the peace of the church and for the praise of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would provide you with the gentility to restore those who have sinned against you and the humility to rejoice with others whom God has richly blessed. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Wednesday September 12 – The fruit of the Spirit: GENTLENESS (2)

The fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness…. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-6 Paul’s teaching that the fruit of the Spirit included gentleness was appropriate. Paul was in need of re-sowing gospel seeds at Galatia where many believed that they were to take pride in their goodness to make themselves right with God. Paul corrects: “If gospel seeds are planted in your hearts by the Spirit, then a character change finds its way into your life.” It is the change to humility. As Paul would say elsewhere: “By the grace of God I am what I am and His grace to me was not without effect” (1 Corinthians 15:10). God’s lavish grace makes the works of the flesh pointless. We find examples of such a humble spirit in Scripture. John the Baptist said that he was not worthy of untying the sandal of his Saviour (John 1:27), and Peter counsels Christian wives to gentleness in our passage. Gentleness promotes peace because it need not promote self, as bitter jealousy does. In His grace, God takes care of our needs. Gentleness promotes peace because its spirit is at peace. With gentleness, room is left to esteem others more than ourselves, which was the spirit of Christ. Suggestions for prayer As you ponder how God has taken care of your needs, pray that the peace this gives your spirit may be shown in gentleness that promotes peace with others in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Tuesday September 11 – The fruit of the Spirit: GENTLENESS (1)

The fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness…. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Gentleness connects with faithfulness. In order to be faithful, we need the spirit of gentleness. Faithfulness requires us to swallow sinful pride, for if we do not, it will be very difficult to be faithful where God has called us to be. Gentleness does not arise from our spirit first, but by the Spirit of Christ, Who knows what it means to be gentle. Christian gentleness arises from those who identify themselves by the grace of God. The Canons of Dort say that “the sense of certainty of God’s election affords to the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation” (Canons, I, Article 13), and that the perseverance of saints “is so far from exciting in the saints a sense of pride…that on the contrary, it is the real source of humility” (Canons, V, Article 12). The gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to have this humbling impact on believers, so important for all our relationships; it is most certainly so in the relationship that we are to have with each other in Christ’s church. We will talk more about this gentle spirit next time. Suggestion for prayer As you focus on the sovereign grace of God for you in Jesus Christ, pray that the Lord will bless you by His Spirit with a spirit of gentility and humility in increasing fashion unto God’s praise. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Monday September 10 - The fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS (3)

The fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Matthew 24:45-51 Christian faithfulness is to be God-directed, but it is also to be shown to others. We can be loyal in the wrong ways, as when our work comes before our families or our families come before our relationship to God. Our faithfulness to others can be a beautiful thing even though the world doesn’t understand true faithfulness. You might wonder why you cannot count on some people when the chips are down. Concentrate more on whether people can count on you as you can count on Christ. Not all marriages work out like they ought, but ask yourself, “What keeps a marriage together — mine perhaps?” It is going to be the fruit of faithfulness. The works of the flesh include immorality, but the fruitfulness of a Christian marriage will be found in emulating the faithfulness of Christ. Be a faithful worker to your Master in heaven and to your employer. The hallmark of the employee is not what he can get, but his ability to be a dependable worker. Ask not how others might be faithful to you; ask how you can be faithful to others as God has been to you in Christ and His Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Ask for pardon when you have let others down. Ask for the Lord’s grace to help you be someone on whom others can depend in faithfulness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Sunday September 9 – The fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS (2)

The fruit of the Spirit is… faithfulness…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 34:1-10 As we mentioned yesterday, faithfulness is meant to be directed both to God and to those whom God has placed in our path. Believers in Galatia needed a reminder to be faithful to God. Some had become bewitched, thinking that justification was somehow based on the law. The apostle calls the Galatians back to a loyalty for the gospel truth, trusting in God for justification in Christ, not in themselves. Faithfulness to God includes faithful worship. Worshipping God regularly is a sign of our faithfulness to God. God’s faithfulness in Christ is a basis for faithful worship. God’s faithfulness to His people never dries up; they can always count on God; this is why God expects faithful worship from them. Worship does not quit because God’s faithfulness never quits; Christians are faithful worshippers. Our world is shouting at us to worship less or quit worship altogether—all for illegitimate reasons. Yet, worship is never an exercise in futility when we remember that the faithfulness of the Lord is great and new every moment; with the psalmist, then, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Tomorrow, let’s see how the fruit of faithfulness can be shown to others. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord that your response to God’s call to worship will be based initially on God’s faithfulness to you in Christ, rather than some secondary reason. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Saturday September 8 - The fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS (1)

The fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 100 Faithfulness speaks of devotion to the faithful and triune God; it includes a dependability in our service to others. The call to faithfulness should not surprise us, given God’s faithfulness in time and eternity to His people. Whether we speak of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit, each displays the character of One Who is covenantally faithful, as Psalm 100 relates. God the Father finishes what He starts, beginning a good work and seeing it to completion unto the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6). His faithfulness is so great that nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39), Who Himself is the faithful witness (Rev. 1:5). The Holy Spirit also is faithful, a guarantee of better things coming, the unfading inheritance that awaits the people of God. He is the One that Jesus would call “the One who will abide with us forever” (John 14:16). Bearers of the fruit of the Spirit are therefore called to be faithful as God is faithful – a faithfulness to be directed to God and to others. Tomorrow we will see how this Christian faithfulness can be realized in our lives, particularly in worship. Suggestions for prayer Take time to pray with adoration for the various ways that the Lord reveals His faithfulness, both in Scripture and in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Friday September 7 – The fruit of the Spirit: GOODNESS

The fruit of the Spirit is…goodness…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 37:1-9 Goodness is a reflection of God, Who is good. From the outset in Scripture, God is revealed as good and as One Who creates what is good. The world accuses God of evil, but such accusations are contrary to God’s Word. In fact, God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Our calling to be good is to give glory to God according to His standards in our relationship to Him and to others. As we have opportunity, we are to do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). Goodness is to live an honourable life, where honour is given to God Who is good, by pleasing God and blessing others. Goodness plants seeds of goodness. God’s goodness to us plants seeds of doing good to others. It is easy to let the evil deeds done to us be the seeds we plant in others. Yet, dwelling on God’s prevailing goodness toward us must dictate how we treat others. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord with thanks for His goodness to you each day; with such a spirit of thanksgiving, ask that He might also enable you, by the Spirit, to reflect His goodness all the more. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Thursday September 6 - The fruit of the Spirit: KINDNESS

The fruit of the Spirit is…kindness…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 Kindness does not follow patience arbitrarily, any more than its pairing with patience elsewhere in Scripture, the most familiar being 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Kindness is a quality of mercy on the positive side and a refusal to be rude on the negative side. It is one thing to suffer, it is another to respond so someone suffers in return. Kindness avoids vengeance. Kindness is the benevolent reaction of God to us. Ephesians 2:7 speaks of God’s immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Recipients of God’s kindness know that no one has suffered longer than God and His Christ have suffered for us, who are sinners. Yet, no one has responded better to suffering than God, Who in His loving kindness has displayed His benevolence in Christ. God calls us, then, to display the same kind of demeanour among those with whom we must suffer long, with a kindness that reflects the kindness of God in Christ. Our calling is to reflect the loving kindness of our Saviour by showing loving kindness to our fellow-man. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord that He might grant you the sort of kindness that reflects the greatness of His kindness to you in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Wedenesday September 5 - The fruit of the Spirit: PATIENCE

The fruit of the Spirit is…patience…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Matthew 18:21-35 Christian patience is an attribute of the peace-loving follower of Christ. The word for patience is actually a compound word, macro-thumia, long-suffering. This virtue reminds us of the kind of person God is and the kind of people Christians become. One day we will not have to suffer at all anymore—when God calls us to Himself in glory. However, in these days, we have to bear with the sins of others and they have to bear with ours. Fruit takes time to bear in the household of faith, as those called to love one another. When we realize that God is still working on His people, bearing with others’ specks is a sign of a fruitful heart. Patience is more than putting up; it seeks to pardon those who seek it. Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of the unforgiving servant calls us to patience (macrothumia) with others. Our long-suffering not only suffers for wrongs, but also pardons them as God does us. Without God’s patience in Christ, we would know eternal wrath. Patience, then, carries graciousness, as it remembers, not the sin of others, but the graciousness of God. Suggestions for prayer Petition the Lord that He may enable you, by His Spirit, to dwell on the gracious Spirit of God to you in Christ, not just so that you might be thankful to God, but that you might reflect Him as well. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Tuesday September 4 – The fruit of the Spirit: PEACE

The fruit of the Spirit is…peace…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Romans 15:1-13 If Christian joy is a residual of Christian love, then Christian peace is a residual of both Christian love and joy. When love is at work, then factions start to be erased, for joy takes the place of jealousy, and with that joy comes the blessings of peace. When we do good things for Christ’s sake because of His love for us, He brings us a satisfaction and peace that can only come from Him. The fruit of peace stems from the knowledge that God has restored order in our relationship with Him. As those who belong to and benefit from the Prince of Peace, it should not be surprising that it is a peace that the Christian seeks to promote in all facets of his life as far as it depends on him. Christians may not be endowed with every gift of the Spirit, but all Christians know the love, joy and peace of Christ in their hearts. These blessings from God move every Christian to be blessings of love, joy and peace to others, first of all to fellow Christians, so that the household of faith might be a peaceful witness to the world. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord might use you in gracious ways within the household of faith, so that you might be able to live at peace with your fellow-Christians as far as it depends on you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Monday September 3 – The fruit of the Spirit: JOY

The fruit of the Spirit is…joy... – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:1-3 Christian joy is deeper than the laughter from a good joke; it also carries us through times that are not humorous. Rejoicing in the Lord always doesn’t mean we will never shed a tear, but it does mean that we can take to heart that God works all things for our good. Christian joy remembers God’s constant blessings upon us as those belonging to Christ in life and in death. Joy follows love; it includes the outflow of love in one’s life to others. While hatred can lead to envy, which brings no joy, love accomplishes the opposite. Where love arrives, joy is near, for true love is expressed in joy and results in joy. We can only really enjoy life when we live in obedience to God showing the world that His love motivates us. Joy is tied both to love and hope. Jesus Christ saw that for the joy that was set before Him, he could endure the cross. May God grant to us the joy of what He has in store for us, as well as a joyful memory of what we have already in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will sanctify your heart so that you will labour for the Lord with a joy that results in further joy for others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Sunday September 2 - The fruit of the Spirit: LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit is love…. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 The gifts of the Spirit are sometimes talked about more by Christians than the actual fruit of the Spirit that is shown. Yet, while not all the gifts of the Spirit belong to every Christian, the fruit of the Spirit are to be evident in all Christians. We can understand why the fruit of the Spirit starts with love. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God and a second like it is to love your neighbor. All the other virtues of spiritual fruit flow from love. Love comes first because it directs our attention to God, Who is love. Love is productive. When we are loving, we are giving — to our families, our churches, and others in need. Above all, love gives to God the glory due to His name, which we give especially in worship on the Lord’s Day. We know love best when we know Christ’s love, Who gave His life for us. Not surprisingly, the way in which we, first of all, bear the fruit of the Spirit is by the very way that God has treated us in Christ. Suggestions for prayer As you meditate on God’s unfailing love to you in Christ, pray that, on this Lord’s Day, the Lord might grant you the grace of His Holy Spirit to respond to His love with loving worship. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

Saturday September 1 – Introduction

The September devotions focus on the Holy Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is covered first, followed by references to the Holy Spirit in the Heidelberg Catechism. We conclude with a devotional of assurance to Christians on the Holy Spirit’s presence. Reformed Christians often are accused of ignoring the Holy Spirit in the life and teaching of the church. However, when we realize that the believer could never make a confession of Jesus as Lord without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), and when we realize that it is the calling of every Christian to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), ignoring the Holy Spirit is impossible. If anyone is ignoring the Holy Spirit, it may be those who think they could make the profession of Christ without the Spirit of God, or it may be those who think that they should sin all the more so grace can abound. Those who ignore the Spirit ignore the Spirit’s word as those who have ears but do not hear. If Reformed teaching is accused of ignoring the Spirit, the accusation is a false one. The ignoring of the Spirit does occur; however, when our praise, our profession, our prayers and our practice does not display the impact that the Spirit of Christ has on a person’s life. By the grace of the Spirit, may this month’s devotional direct our lives to the need and praise of the Holy Spirit, whom any true Christian will not ignore. FRUITFUL LIVING IN THE SPIRIT If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:26 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 The call to be fruitful is nothing new from God. From the outset the Lord has called us, as human beings, not to be destructive, but to be productive in all facets of our lives. Before the fall, the Lord called humanity to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). The works of the flesh go against this cultural mandate from the Lord. It need not be this way for us when, by grace and through faith, we know we are saved from such a destructive way of life by Christ. When we are saved by Christ, the fruit of the Spirit begins to bear in all the relationships to which we are called. We discover that how we live in Christ matters. If the gospel of Jesus Christ and His precious blood mean anything to us, we will live like those who believe that how we behave in this world does matter. We will not allow our Christian freedom to be an opportunity for the flesh, but an opportunity to be fruitful in God’s vineyard. Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord that for each new day He gives, you might use that day to be productive in His kingdom by the power of His Holy Spirit and in service to Christ your Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....