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Daily devotional

March 27 - Are you humble? (1) 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. - 1 Peter 5:5-6 Scripture reading: Philippians 2 How important is humility? According to Peter very important! Pride not only hurts our relationship with God, but also our relationship with others. How many friendships and marriages have been damaged or ruined over hurtful or angry words? How many families and workplaces have been divided by resentment and bitterness? How many reputations have been ruined through jealousy and hateful gossip? How true are the words, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). Do you have a humble spirit or have you allowed pride to impact your relationship with your spouse? Family member? Co-worker? Even Christ Himself? Peter declares, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."How can we clothe ourselves with humility? The term clothe refers to a servant’s garment or apron that would be worn over other clothing and tied so that it would stay tightly fixed to the body. Peter’s imperative here is that humility must be part of us like a garment tightly wrapped around the body so it can’t fall off. This garment is to be on all the time and never removed. Humility is essential in the Christian life. Just as Paul taught when he said in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Why do this? "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." How important is humility to you? Suggestions for prayer Give praise to God; He is willing to give His grace to the humble. If you struggle with pride, ask the Lord to grant you grace and help today so that you can repent of this sin and come to Him with humility and faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 26 - Biblical leadership  

So I exhort the elders among you,… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. - 1 Peter 5:1-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5; Titus 1 What makes for a spiritually healthy church? I could list many things that would contribute to the health of a church, but the most important is a strong dedication to the Word of God as our only authority for faith and practice. What makes a strong dedication to God’s Word happen? The answer is strong leadership. Most churches stand firm or fall with the quality of their leadership. Of course, leaders can’t fulfill their calling without supportive and spiritually minded members of the church. Both leaders and members must be Biblically minded and work together in humility with a desire to serve Christ so that the church can grow and flourish. Even though this text is directed towards elders, it should speak to all of us to recognize the importance of Biblical leadership in the church. The primary task of the elder is to shepherd the flock of God. Like the Good Shepherd, this means he is to pray for, guide, care for and nurture the church which is Christ’s flock. He is to exercise spiritual oversight over the church to ensure the faithful preaching of God’s Word and that the purity of the Word, the sacraments, the doctrines and holiness of life are maintained. This is a calling he accepts willingly and reverently and not for shameful gain or benefit. He is not to abuse his authority and be domineering, harsh or arrogant, but to be an example of Christ. May the Lord give us strong Biblical leadership! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will give us Biblical and faithful elders and pastors to lead Christ’s church on earth and pray for and support the leaders the Lord has called to have oversight in His church. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 25 – Are you prepared?

...but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. - 1 Peter 3:15 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-17 It can be very challenging to share your faith in Christ with others and there are many questions we can ask ourselves. Will I say the right things? Will I be able to explain the gospel correctly? Was I sincere? Or, why couldn’t I remember that verse, it was perfect?! We can play mental gymnastics before, during and after witnessing to someone. Many feel uncomfortable talking to others about Christ. They can be afraid of rejection, of looking foolish or of offending others of a different faith. Yet, our aim should always be to share our Saviour with a lost world (Mark 16:15-16). We must always remember, we are not in the business of converting people; that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are in the business of planting the good seed of God’s Word in the hearts of others. We leave it to the Lord to apply His Word to hearts and give the growth (1Corinthians 3:7). Peter tells us, as those who are dedicated to Christ by true faith, to always be prepared to make a defense of the reason for our Christian hope at any time. You share real hope every time you speak to someone about Christ, a hope that has a foundation, a hope that has a real future, a hope that will not disappoint! Know the truths of God’s Word and pray for the Spirit’s help so that you will always be ready to share your hope. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord He revealed Christ to us and that we were enabled to come to Him in repentance and faith for our salvation. Pray that we will be able to share this hope we have in Christ with others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 24 - Who can really harm you? 

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. - 1 Peter 3:13-14 Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-39 Today is a day of worship and praise. As we spend time in God’s house, we are reminded that living for Christ by His Word and Spirit is always best. However, you are not guaranteed that living a godly life and doing good will always be received with recognition and kindness from others in return. The reality is that here in North America we may never face persecution at the level that people have in other parts of the world like North Korea, the MiddleEast, or China (to name just a few). Yet, when you try to talk to someone about the Lord or even do good and act kindly to someone, their response may not be positive at all. We must recognize that our society is becoming more antagonistic and hostile toward Christ and the gospel. This is true whether we are facing torture for our faith or whether we’re just nervous about the thought of telling someone about Christ. Peter asks the question, "Who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?" If we have a passion for Christ and we are dedicated to serving Him, who can really harm us?  Paul told us if God is for us who can be against us (Romans 8:31) and that all things happen for our good (Romans 8:28). God’s sovereignty and protection help us not to be fearful or troubled. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Suggestions for prayer Be thankful to spend this day in worship to our covenant God. Praise Him that Christ enables us to be blessed even in our suffering. Ask the Lord to give you grace and peace through His Word in those times when you do have fear and feel troubled. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 23 - The war against your soul 

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. - 1 Peter 2:11 Scripture reading: Romans 13 As Christians, we are involved in a spiritual battle. Peter tells us to continually abstain from the passions of our flesh that make war against our souls. The word passion refers to any kind of self-seeking and includes ungodliness, lust, and covetousness. These passions have full sway in the hearts of unbelievers because they are ignorant of God and His holiness and grace as revealed in His Word. But for you as a Christian, growing in your knowledge of Christ, you don’t have to be controlled by selfish desires. We turn from self-centered living to now living under Christ’s lordship as those called by God out of this fallen world. Fleshly lusts are human desires which stem from our own depravity and seek fulfillment apart from God and His will for us. A sojourner or a pilgrim (exile) would not put down roots in a place where he or she had no intention of staying, and so Peter warns the church against getting involved with fleshly lusts which war against the soul. These passions hinder our spiritual journey as pilgrims and cause much grief and pain. How should you then deal with fleshly lusts? You cannot overcome them by human effort or self-discipline. They are only overcome by the power of the indwelling Spirit as you live by faith in Christ. Paul told us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). Have you come to Christ to help you win this war? Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that Christ is with us and has cleansed our sin with His own precious blood. Ask the Lord to help you live for Christ and to help you overcome the passions of the flesh. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 22 - Our privilege and responsibility 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. - 1 Peter 2:9-10 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 7 Clearly, Peter wants us to understand that the church is something unique in this world. Look at how He describes every believer in Christ: You are a chosen race! You belong to a royal priesthood! You are a member of a holy nation! You are God’s possession! You have now received His mercy! The first thought that comes to my mind is how can this be? I don’t feel very special. I am just an ordinary person going about my business living my life day by day. Who am I to claim such privileges especially when I feel so unfaithful? Keep in mind that what Peter is telling you here is based completely on what God does for you in Christ and not on anything you think or feel. He tells us that at one point we were not a people, but now we are God’s people. What made this change happen? We received the mercy of God. Your covenant God was pleased to make you His, simply because He loved you and would fulfill the covenant oath He made concerning you just as He did for Israel in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 7:6-9). You may not feel very special to God, but He assures you that you are! He called you out of darkness and placed you in a very privileged position with a very important responsibility, to proclaim Christ to a lost world. Being in such a privileged position, will you proclaim Him? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the privilege to be called by God in Christ because of His love and mercy. Ask Him to help you to fulfill your responsibility to proclaim Christ to a lost world that needs the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 21 - We are living stones

...you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 2:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 40 Because Jesus is called the Living Stone, His covenant people are also called living stones being built up as a spiritual house through faith in Him. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). As Jesus continues to build His church, believers are the bricks that make up His building, the church. In fact, every time someone comes to faith in Christ another stone is taken from the pit of destruction and is placed on the rock that cannot be moved (Psalm 40:1-3). This text also teaches the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer. In the Old Testament, only the priests could come near to God by offering sacrifices and incense on His altar. Only the High Priest, and only once a year, could enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the people. But now, Christ our High Priest has offered Himself once for all as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. All believers now have direct access to God’s presence through Christ, our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). We don’t need a human priest or a bloody sacrifice since Christ is all-sufficient for us. But we offer up to God other spiritual sacrifices as priests. We offer ourselves (Romans 12:1-2), to share the gospel (Romans 15:16), and to praise our God (Hebrews 13:15-16). What a privilege we have to be a part of His church, a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22)! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord He has taken us from the pit of destruction and placed us on the rock which is Christ. Thank Him that Jesus is still building His church and that we are living stones built up in Him and that as priests, it is our privilege to offer ourselves to Him in service and praise. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 20 - Our living stone!

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious. - 1 Peter 2:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 118 How does Peter describe Jesus for us? He is a Living Stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God. This means that the Lord has set forth Christ to be the great foundation upon which the Church is built. How do we come to Him? Of course, we come to Him in salvation when we first believed. But that is not what Peter has in mind here. The verb tense he uses means we are to come to Christ repeatedly. This does not refer to our conversion, but to our daily communion with Him. We must come to Christ continually so that we may be built up in Him. Peter calls Jesus a Living Stone. He is living in that He died for our sins, but was raised from the dead and is alive, gaining victory over sin, death, and hell. He is the author and giver of life, able to impart spiritual life to all who believe in Him. Because He is living, Christianity is not a religion of dead rituals, superficial worship, and paying lip service to God. It is a relationship with the living Lord of the universe! Christ is the only solid foundation for your faith for time and eternity. This should be very comforting because your faith rests on what Christ has done for you. You can put your trust in Him and know that you will not be disappointed or put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). Is Jesus your Living Stone? Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He has given us Jesus, our Living Stone! That there is no other foundation for our faith and that when we place our faith and trust in Him we will never be disappointed. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 19 - Desire pure spiritual milk

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:1-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2 As we now come into chapter two, Peter gives us a list of five things we are not to possess as Christians. These are not the only things that hinder our growth in Christ. Peter uses a figure of speech here, where the part represents the whole. Peter just finished telling us in chapter one that holiness and love for others are to mark every aspect of the Christian life. The Greek word for put away means to get rid of or to remove. Any vice must be removed like clothes that are dirty and defiled. We are to strip off anything that spoils our holiness and love for God and others. What place do malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander have in your heart as a believer in Christ? Does Christ not save us from all forms of vice and wickedness? What should we desire? The believer is to crave one thing, the truth of God’s Word. Just as babies need fresh milk and good nutrition to grow up strong and healthy, so we also need the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. Newborn babies have an intense craving for their mother’s milk. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m., if they’re hungry, they let you know about it and don’t stop until they are fed! When was the last time you had such a desire for God’s Word? It is only through the Bible that we may grow up to salvation and know that the Lord is good. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you deal with any type of vice and sin in your heart. Pray that the Lord would grant you a strong desire to know His Word and that you would experience His goodness in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 18 - The shortness of life   

…for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you. - 1 Peter 1: 24-25 Scripture reading: Isaiah 40 Imagine there is a bank that credits your bank account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. It’s almost overwhelming to think about it if such a sum of money was given to us each day like this! Yet, each of us has such a bank. It’s called TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost whatever of this amount you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no borrowing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. How are you spending your time? Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-8 in this text: "A voice says, 'Cry!' And I said, 'What shall I cry?' All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades…" The reality we all face is that life is so very short. Thankfully, the Word of the Lord remains forever! Make sure in all the busyness of life that you stop to take care of the most important thing with your time - a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to direct you to the best use of your time so that you do not look back over life lamenting much wasted time, but rather use your time for spiritual life and growth in God’s Word through Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 17 - Born again

...since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; - 1 Peter 1:23 Scripture reading: John 3 I read a story about an old church that sat empty and abandoned for a long time in a rundown neighborhood. The decaying building blended naturally into the whole area. Storefronts were boarded up. An old school building was padlocked. The place was grim, unswept, forgotten. Then one night everything changed. The old church was lit up. Parked cars lined the streets. The sound of music filled the air. What had been dead and abandoned had come to life. There have been many people like this old church, spiritually dark, empty, and without any life. Then, as if someone turned on a switch, they came to life! What makes such a radical change in a person’s life? God makes His people born again by His Holy Spirit! The new birth gives us a new nature as well as a new and living hope (1 Peter 1:3). Peter explains that the new birth comes through the living and abiding word of God. By the Word(logos), he means "God's self-revelation," which would include both His spoken message of the Old Testament and the message of the gospel through Christ, our great prophet in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1). God's Word is living because it gives life to all who hear it and respond to it in faith. Has the Bible made an impact on your life? Does it continue to make an impact especially on this day of worship? God’s Word is life to all who respond to its message! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the new birth and that He does not leave us dead in our trespasses and sins. Ask the Lord to enable His Word to have a continual impact on your life by His Holy Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 16 - An earnest love 

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. - 1 Peter 1:22 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 13 How important are the words, “I love you”? These are words repeated by those who very much care for each other. These are words I often say to my wife. Remember, love is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith. Paul told us that …faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). The one thing that Jesus will never say to you as a Christian is, I don't love you anymore. But rather, I love you with an everlasting love because I laid down my life for you. In response to His love for us, we should certainly love Him and His people. Peter describes our love as earnest and from a pure heart. The basis for such love is obedience to the truth by which the Saints have purified their souls, resulting in sincere love for others. Obedience to the truth of God’s Word and the gospel, means we come to the One Who has the ability to purify us, Who is Christ. We are made righteous in Christ by our repentance from sin and true faith in Him. Our love should be a warm brotherly affection, the kind evident in a closely knit family. This is the kind of love members of God’s family have toward other family members as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is also a purposeful, sacrificial love, the kind our Lord demonstrated on the cross of Calvary. Do you have this kind of love? Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His love for us, a love that sent His Son to earth to die for us. Pray that we would respond to this love by having a sincere love for Him and for others in His Church. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 15 - Made manifest for us!

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. - 1 Peter 1:20-21 Scripture reading: Colossians 1 At the end of the day, where are your faith and hope? They must be in God Who set forth our redemption even before the foundation of the world! This verse is a rich display of God’s grace toward unworthy sinners like us, who only deserve God’s judgment and wrath. Jesus, coming into this world to save us, is not just an afterthought when the Fall happened in the Garden of Eden.  The Lord has a purpose to save His people and is not willing to leave us in darkness and sin. When the time was right, He willingly revealed our Saviour to us. How good is our God! Through Jesus, we can come to God in faith. Through Jesus, we have life from the dead because God raised Him from the dead. Through Jesus, we will go to be with God in glory because Jesus has been raised to glory. Everything that happens to Jesus happens to us as we are heirs and joint-heirs with Him. If you are lacking assurance today or struggling with your Christian faith due to weakness or failures in your life, meditate on these two verses. God knows we fail and often fall into sin, that’s why He sent us His Son. There is an answer for hopelessness and despair in this world and that answer has always been Jesus. Where are your faith and your hope today? If your answer is in God through Jesus, then it is in the right place! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He set forth the salvation of His people before the foundation of the world and that we can have real faith and hope in God because He has established us in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 14 - We are redeemed by precious blood

...knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. - 1 Peter 1:18-19 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5 When you are traveling, you always need to pack for the place of your destination. If you are traveling to the beach, you would bring your swimsuit, lotion, sunglasses and a towel. It would not make much sense to bring these items on a trip to the Arctic! As Christians, what is our destination? We are preparing ourselves for heaven when we will be with Christ for eternity. We should no longer live according to futile ways inherited from those who lived before us. Ungodliness can show itself in many ways, but always comes down to the world, the flesh and the devil. We have inherited a sinful nature that causes us to be guilty and corrupt before a holy God. The world is cursed by sin and the devil is active and prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. What is the answer to all this? It is nothing that is perishable like silver or gold. What saves us is much more precious or costly; not even all the gold and silver in the world could buy it if that were possible! Every Christian is ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, just like a pure lamb without spot or defect. The perfect offering has been made for your sin. The pure and holy Lamb of God, Jesus ransomed you out of this sinful world so that you would belong to Him. If you belong to Jesus, how then are you preparing for eternity to be with Him? Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He ransoms His covenant people from a cursed world and restores them to Himself through the precious blood of Christ. Ask the Lord to enable you byHis Spirit to live a sanctified life that pleases Him and to no longer live in futile ways. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 13 - Live in fear?

And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. - 1 Peter 1:17 Scripture reading: Genesis 18 Peter gives us a conditional statement that goes like this, if you call, claim or declare God as your Father, Who judges everyone impartially according to what we do, thenlive in a manner of fear in the time the Lord gives you as one who is in exile. Those who are in a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ show it in how they live. No hypocrisy here! No superficial praying! God knows your heart. Our Father is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25). His judgment includes all men and is conducted without respect to a person’s position in this world. Wealth, social status, or family background makes no difference to Him. As a result of this relationship, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. Exactly what does it mean to live in fear? This fear means reverence or respect and to live in the awareness of God. We are exiled Saints waiting for the time when we will be full citizens of heaven in glory. In the meantime, as the covenant people of God, we must not expect God to overlook the sin in our own lives, for while its penalty has been paid for by Christ, He still judges it. We are to live for Christ and not just ourselves. Are you living in the fear of the Lord? Does your life show reverence and respect for Christ? Remember, our conduct is more important than our words. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you a right view of the holiness and majesty of God and that He would give you the desire to live in a manner that shows reverence and respect for Him, to live for Christ and not just ourselves. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 12 – We are to have a right moral standard

...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." - 1 Peter 1:15-16  Scripture reading: Isaiah 6 There are two elements to God’s holiness. The first is the idea of being set apart. God is totally above and beyond us and He is in a class by Himself. There is a profound difference between Him and those He has created. The second aspect of holiness (the one we generally think of first) is the idea of purity. This is His intrinsic and transcendent purity, the standard of righteousness according to His moral law to which the whole universe must conform. He sets the standard for our morality as He is the Sovereign Lawgiver. Peter gives a command here that we are to be holy in all our conduct as God is perfectly holy. This is a high order for us! How can we achieve such a command when we live lives that are so unholy even with a desire to obey the Lord? A couple of things to keep in mind, the moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, we are positionally sanctified or set apart unto God. "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then we must be progressively sanctified by growing in holiness. This is a lifetime of dying unto sin and living more unto righteousness (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:13). When we enter glory we will be perfectly sanctified, made completely like Him. If you desire to be holy, your relationship with Christ must grow because only He can make you holy. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to fulfill your calling by making you holy and that as His people, we will be able to more and more die unto sin and live unto righteousness through Christ Who makes us holy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 11 - We are to have right obedience

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. - 1 Peter 1:14 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2 Paul told us that naturally, we are all spiritually dead and disobedient, living in the passions of our flesh and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). What changes all that? "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5). When we recognize the riches of God’s grace and mercy in His salvation, bringing us from spiritual death to life, what impact should this have? True salvation always results in obedience from disobedience. We obey God as a response to the grace and salvation He has so freely given to us. Jesus declares, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). For right obedience, we need to go to the right source for our authority which is Christ Himself. When we say we love Jesus this also means we obey Jesus. We are not to conform or live after the pattern of an unchristian lifestyle marked by human passions (any kind of self-seeking whether wealth, power, or pleasure). We don’t try to use Jesus to fulfill our desires to make us happy and comfortable. Rather, as obedient children, we turn from self-centered living to living under Christ’s lordship and keeping His commands. At the end of the day, what are you living for? Do you have right obedience and submit yourself to Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you a heart that desires to obey Christ rather than to surrender to human passion and sin. Pray that those who are alive in Christ, by grace through faith, will also live for Him by faith and grow their sanctification and holiness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 10 – We are to have right thinking

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 1:13 Scripture reading: Psalm 26 I read an illustration about a California driver’s license examiner who spoke about a teenager who had just driven an almost perfect test. “He made his only mistake,” said the examiner, “when he stopped to let me out of the car. After breathing a sigh of relief, the boy exclaimed, ‘I’m sure glad I don’t have to drive like that all the time!’” We should never approach our Christianity like this boy. Just put on a good front while at church or when someone is watching, but the rest of the time it's okay to make our own moral standards and pay lip service to God. Whew, I am glad I am out of church today and don't have to live like that all the time! Peter now brings us to the place where we are to live responsibly to God and others in light of the salvation and living hope we have in Christ. Today is a day of worship, but Sunday is not the only day we live responsibly before God and others.  This means you are to have a ready mind to obey the command to set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Be sober-minded or have clarity of mind that results in good judgment. Your attitude determines your actions. What you think determines how you live. As Paul put it, take every thought captive to obey Christ(2 Corinthians 10:5). Have you prepared your mind for action today? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to grant you right thinking and a disciplined mind. Pray that you would set your hope fully on the grace that comes to you in Christ and that you would have a mind prepared for action. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 9 - The prophets spoke about him

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. - 1 Peter 1:10-11 Scripture reading: Hebrews 1 Peter continues to encourage suffering Saints by telling them that even the prophets of old looked for and testified concerning God’s salvation and grace given to His people. This should encourage us as well! The Lord had a plan to save a people and, over time, revealed that plan in the progression of His revelation through His Word to the prophets, various other means and now to us through His Son Jesus (Hebrew 1:1). What did the prophets search for? God made a gradual discovery of Christ from the time of Adam down through the running centuries to the New Testament times. Each prophecy from the prophets was a part of the full picture that Christ would come to reverse the curse that the fall of Adam brought upon all mankind.  Christ Himself declared to the men on the Emmaus road: "…O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27). Christ needed to come, to suffer, to rise from the dead and to enter into His glory to fulfill the plan of salvation for us as well as all those who came before us and those who belong to Him in the future. How great is God’s grace for His covenant people! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you to also testify to the good news of the gospel, that salvation has come and Jesus sets sinful captives free. Pray that as the prophets spoke about Jesus, we would be able to do the same through His Spirit and by His grace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 8 - How can we see him?

...whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:8-9 Scripture reading: Hebrews 11 How can you love and believe in someone you do not see? In fact, Peter tells us that we have not seen Jesus, not in the past or even now in our present day. Yet, for the Christian, He is the most important Person in your life! The reality is we have seen Him and because we have seen Him, we love Him and believe in Him. This is because we see Jesus with the eyes of faith. Our love for Jesus is based on the certainty that He loved us and came into this world for us in order to restore us to God and take away our guilt and shame. We do not need to see Jesus with our physical eyes to know that He is real. We have an assurance and conviction of faith just like those many witnesses that lived before us who are highlighted in Hebrews 11. We love Him and come believing because, by the regenerating power of His Spirit, our hearts are so moved to come to Him and give ourselves to Him by faith. We recognize the depth of our sin and greatness of His mercy whereby He forgives our trespasses and grants us salvation freely by His grace. Because of Jesus in our lives, we can certainly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Do you love and believe in Him with the eyes of faith? If you do, you can rejoice and be filled with His joy! Suggestions for prayer Pray the Lord helps you to look to Jesus with the eyes of faith even if your present circumstances make it difficult to see Him. Ask the Lord to grant you joy in Christ knowing that by faith you belong to Him and nothing can separate you from His love. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 7 - A genuine faith

...so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 1:7 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12 Genuine faith is at the very heart of Christian life. We are saved by faith, we live by faith and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But what makes your faith genuine as opposed to something false or misguided? Peter tells us that genuine faith is something tested and more valuable than even gold purified by fire! When gold is placed in a furnace, it is not that the gold should be damaged or destroyed, but that it might be made more pure and precious. All the impurities and dross must be burned off so that only the gold will be present and nothing else. In fact, it has been said that an Eastern goldsmith would keep the precious metal in the furnace until he could see his face reflected in it. Why must we go through the furnace of affliction, pain, or sorrow? It is so that the tested genuineness of your faith would reflect the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ more and more each day until all His people go to be with Him in glory! How do you know your faith is real and not false? True faith is a full belief and trust in Christ to save you no matter what you face in life whether good or difficult. Genuine faith is a faith that may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do you have this true faith? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to grant you a genuine faith that will stand up to all the trials and sorrows in life, a faith that centers in Christ alone for salvation and a faith that is being purified so that Christ will be more and more precious to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 6 - Rejoicing in tough times

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials. - 1 Peter 1:6 Scripture reading: Acts 5:12-42 In verse 6, Peter now returns to his theme of suffering and tells these scattered, persecuted Christians, they have much to rejoice in while at the same time they are distressed by various trials. Seems like a contradiction doesn't it? Joyful and distressed?!? How are we to understand this? He is declaring that we can be joyful for who we are in Christ, for the living hope we possess, for the great inheritance we shall receive, that we are kept by the power of God and that one day we shall go to be with Christ. All these things lift up the soul and help in distressing times and encourage us when experiencing suffering in this life. Peter himself had experienced great suffering. In Acts 5, after being beaten and warned not to speak in the name of Jesus, he and the other apostles departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). They were able to rejoice despite their suffering because they counted themselves worthy to suffer dishonour for Jesus. Is your perspective the same? Do you count yourself worthy to suffer for Jesus? This does not mean we put on a superficial smile and never show grief whenever we experience pain. Remember, trials only last a little while and then every Christian is comforted in eternity. Being with Christ far outweighs the trials of life. That is our rejoicing! Is it yours? Suggestions for prayer Pray for the peace and joy of Christ when going through times of pain and suffering and that, like the Apostles, you will be able to count yourself worthy to even suffer shame for the name of Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 5 - Guarded by God’s power

...who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 20 Peter now shifts his focus on the security of the believer in this living hope. Through faith, God's people are guarded by the power of God. The word guarded is a military term that means to protect or keep. Like a fort or castle that is made firm and strong to protect all those inside from enemy attack, so too does the Lord watch over and protect His Saints. The tense of the verb reveals that we are constantly being guarded by God, assuring us that we shall safely arrive in heaven. Believers are not kept by their own ability, but by the power of God. Our faith in Christ has so united us to Him that His power now watches over us. This is what gives us assurance that we will indeed receive the inheritance promised to us. God's power shows His ability or capacity and points to His omnipotence. This means that God can do anything! If He has a purpose to bless His people, who can stop Him! How long will He guard us? Until Jesus Christ returns and we share in the full revelation of His great salvation. The believer is already saved through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the completion of that salvation awaits the return of the Saviour or when we go to be with Him in glory. In the meantime, He secures us and is able to equip us so that we will endure the struggles we face daily. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will be encouraged to know that we are protected for glory by God’s power. Ask the Lord to grant us fresh grace and strength for each day as we face the challenges of living in a fallen world. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 4 - The Christian’s inheritance

...to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you... – 1 Peter 1:4 Scripture reading: Romans 8:1-17 Usually, our concept of the word hope has the idea of desiring something in the future which is not guaranteed, a desire based on uncertainty, and it might happen or might not. Is that what we have here? Does Peter present to us an uncertain expectation of future blessing and life? No, the substance of this living hope is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading and kept in heaven for us. The only hope that lasts must be based on what the Father gives to us in Christ and not just on what we think or feel. So, this is not some kind of wishful thinking or uncertain expectation that stands alone without a foundation. It is actually something real and substantial, that which the believer possesses in Christ! Once we realize we have this inheritance, then we can have confidence and boldness in our faith! The word for inheritance has the idea of property, possession or that which is real and substantial. Here on earth, estates can change in value over time, or even lose value. Buildings and other property that are part of an inheritance can become rundown if they're not maintained. But there are no such problems with our inheritance in heaven. Peter is telling us that we will possess something that can’t be ruined, spoiled, wear out or be taken from us. It is kept or reserved for us. Praise God, He made us joint-heirs with Christ and has given us a lasting legacy! Suggestions for prayer Praise Him that everything He promises us in His Word is not wishful thinking, but has real substance and will come to pass as He has told us. Praise the Lord that He encourages us with the future hope and expectation of our inheritance in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 3 - Why should we praise God the Father?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... – 1 Peter 1:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 145 This festal day of rest is a day of worship and praise of our covenant God. An important motivation for our worship is due to the fact that our Heavenly Father delights to show us mercy and give us a future living hope in Christ. Peter declares His great mercy which shows that the Father’s mercy is rich, abundant and overflowing! As He is great, so also is His mercy toward us! It is because of the richness of His mercy that He has caused us to be born again. What is this? If I could say it simply, it involves a radical change in a sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life and centers on what God does to bring spiritual life in the heart of one who is dead in trespasses and sins. Jesus tells us…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Thus, the Father’s mercy is necessary just as our spiritual life is necessary if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Note the important connection between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the spiritual life of the Christian. It is because of Jesus’ physical death and resurrection that we have spiritual life, which rescues us from spiritual death. Think of it this way: if we do not have this spiritual life within us, our lives are actually hopeless even if we don't realize it! Are you born again in Christ? If you are, you possess a living hope! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that His mercy is rich, abundant and overflowing and that because of this mercy, He has granted His people spiritual life from spiritual death and that He willingly gives us a living hope rather than leave us in a life of misery and hopelessness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 2 - The Triune God saves us

…To those who are elect…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. - 1 Peter 1:1-2 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1 In verse 2, Peter now tells us that the Triune God saves us! Christians are ordained to spiritual life by the sovereign choice of God the Father. This choosing was not based on foreseen faith, but divine choice alone, because God knew us before the world began. Paul declares: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world and that He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will" (Ephesians 1:4-5). God's people are those who are chosen in Christ and in God's perfect time He ordained that we would repent, believe the gospel, and be saved. Those who are in Christ by faith have been appointed for cleansing by His blood. The word sprinkling here refers to the ceremonial cleansing of the Old Testament sacrificial system. The many sacrifices and priestly rites were shadows of the one offering and priestly work of Christ on behalf of His covenant people. We are also partakers of Christ's obedience and thus made to conform to God's standard of holiness. Christ makes us perfectly acceptable to God the Father. The Holy Ghost applies to us Christ's work of redemption and fulfills the Father's will for our election. The Spirit's work is inward and He deals with our hearts to make us willing to accept Christ as our Saviour. He illuminates our minds to see our sin and to see our need for a Saviour to cleanse and save us. What a great Triune God Who saves us! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Triune God Who saves His people from their sin. Thank God the Father that He did not leave us to perish and die, but sent His Son to shed His precious blood to cleanse us and send His Spirit to awaken us to our need for Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 1 - Introduction, and encouraged by election

For the month of March, we will do a study based on the Epistle of 1 Peter. I am not able to cover the entire book; however, we can take a good look at chapter one, most of chapter two, and chapter five as well as some verses in chapter three. This epistle is a very practical book, not just for those who lived during Peter’s day, but also for us as we experience growing hostility in our society as believers dedicated to Christ. The main theme of this book is suffering for Christ. Peter wrote to encourage these Christians who were going through difficult times. They faced terrible persecution, most likely at the hands of the Roman Emperor, Nero, and Peter tried to encourage them by pointing them to their future hope and inheritance (1 Peter 1:4-5), to the fact that suffering has a purpose (1 Peter 1:6-7), and to the knowledge that Christ also suffered for us (1 Peter 2:21). Peter touches on a variety of different themes and doctrines in his book and uses some key terms. One key concept is precious. He calls the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). He declares that we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:19). Christ is the living stone chosen and precious(1 Peter 2:4,6). And he gives instructions to wives when he says, let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4). My desire as we look at this epistle for the month of March is that Christ would be more precious to you and that your love and devotion to Him would grow and thrive within your heart. ****  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. - 1 Peter 1:1 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1 As we begin to look at this chapter, Peter is writing to a church that is suffering, oppressed, experiencing pain and enduring persecution. In verse 1, he says they are scattered and exiles in this world, and in verse 6, he speaks of the suffering of grief in all kinds of trials. Peter does not try to encourage them by telling them their trials will end, the pain will cease or even that the world will become a friendlier place if they can just hang on and persevere long enough. What does Peter present to the suffering church? Living hope in the living God! This living hope comes as they are a chosen people granted salvation by God. This should also give us hope and assurance in the Christian faith. He is the One Who appointed a people for Himself to be His covenant children. In the Bible, election is always declared to encourage the Saints and never to discourage them. We are not told to try and figure out if we are elect or not, but to repent from our sins, believe and come to Jesus by faith and be saved. Election teaches us that true believers cannot be lost and have real assurance of God’s salvation. Why are you to persevere and have hope in a fallen and cursed world as a Christian? By faith in Christ, you are also chosen by Him and belong to Him as God set His love upon you to save you! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we can also be encouraged, even in our trials, because as true believers we belong to Him. He is the One Who chose us and tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us.  This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....