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Daily devotional

May 13 – To His feet your tribute bring

May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! – Psalm 72:11 Scripture readings: Psalm 72:11-19; Daniel 2:17-23 Today is Ascension Day as we remember and celebrate the triumphal ascension into heaven of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:1-12). He is seated at the Father’s right hand and He is continuing to minister to us as our intercessor, friend, and deliverer! The joy we have, in this time of earthly absence, arises from the knowledge of what wondrous things the LORD has done for us! Jesus, the Lamb of God, has made full atonement for our sins and is now seated as our High Priest Who has offered the sacrifice for sins, so that He might secure a righteous peace for His Church to enjoy through all eternity. Ascension Day also served as a beginning of the final part of Jesus’ heavenly ministry of bringing all things to their fullest end. His Word goes out to the ends of the earth in these last days. What is the consequence of His ascension? The declaration of Psalm 2:10 is clear: “O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of this earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Daniel’s response of thanksgiving to God in verses 20-23 echoes the Psalmist’s declaration of coming judgment against the kings by means of the stone described in the vision Nebuchadnezzar received. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet your tribute bring! Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who, like me, His praise should sing? Praise the everlasting King! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Ascended Saviour Who ever lives and makes intercession for us! Pray for patience and readiness of heart as we await His Second Coming! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 12 – Swept up in the wrath of the King

Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. – Daniel 2:16 Scripture readings: Matthew 2:16-23; Daniel 2:12-16 Nebuchadnezzar was tired of the chattering of his enchanters, sorcerers and magicians. He was no longer interested in their vague methods of dream interpretation. He concludes that there’s only one more step to take. In his wrath, he commanded that all the wise men of Babylon and even the youths in the University of Babylon be destroyed. It’s a curious strategy that, under normal circumstances, would get him no closer to a solution to his dream problem. We know Daniel is in harm’s way. He tells the guard that he wishes to see the king who is spewing out wrathful commands and liable to kill anyone who upsets him. This is the moment that Daniel is chosen by God to go see the king. We wouldn’t plan it this way, would we? But then, we’re not God. We can stand in awe of God’s plan for His people – especially when we see how contrary it is to the things we would come up with on our own. In the verses ahead, Daniel will be given the words to speak so that he would be spared death. The marvel of the Gospel is that the Son of Man willingly laid down his life to endure God’s righteous wrath against our sin. Because of this, God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom of this world to be revealed as foolishness. Pray for God’s love to drive away your fears. Praise Him for sending His Son to die in your place as a sacrifice and substitute for you. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 11 – Only God knows

Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 3:10 Scripture readings: Ephesians 3:1-10; Daniel 2:8-11 Daniel was not the first person called to Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He was a good student, but he was not first on the list of dream interpreters in Babylon. After all, he was one of the Jews and not a sophisticated wise man or pagan sorcerer. Nebuchadnezzar’s terror because of the dream he received was amplified by his realization that his advisors were cheats, swindlers and liars. Whatever their dark arts, they did not have a way to bring him the truth. Normal dreams don’t provoke such a reaction, but this was no ordinary dream that Nebuchadnezzar received. The frantic search for truth on Nebuchadnezzar’s part brought him to a state of fear that positioned him to be ready, by the Lord’s doing, to receive the word of a young messenger from the Lord. In your life, the Lord works this way as well. While He doesn’t use dreams with you, He does awaken our consciences to truths about ourselves that we know only God knows! The fear this creates in our hearts is calmed by the message of God which He also is pleased to bring to us through His Word! Do you make time to learn from God’s Word each day? Do you seek answers to life’s questions in the Bible? When you face a fearful realization of guilt, do you know that your security rests in the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the Word made flesh so that He might deliver you from fear and death? Praise the Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the gospel to bring you greater comfort. Pray for a blessing on your meditation upon God’s Word. Pray for messengers to go out to the world’s rulers and the world’s lowliest inhabitants to bring these words of life! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 10 – Surely no one knows such a thing

Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:17 Scripture readings: Ephesians 5:11-16; Daniel 2:1-7 There are many discoveries packed into chapter two! Nebuchadnezzar learns that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. His sorcerers discover that their charade is over and they’ve been found out. Daniel discovers the Lord’s gifts to him are reliable and a reason for him to offer humble praise to the LORD. And God’s people learn that the unfolding of human history is known by God and foreordained by Him for His good pleasure! The complaint of the sorcerers of Babylon is quite understandable, isn’t it? “How can we tell you something about things you’re not sharing with us? Surely no one can know what you saw in your dream, Nebuchadnezzar.” The conclusion that the sorcerers were blind to – but a truth which has been revealed to you in the pages of Scripture – is that it is the LORD Who reveals His will and it is the LORD Who directs the affairs of human history. As the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’ -- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” Do you understand what a gift it is to receive God’s Word of Life? As Daniel perceived, it is the greatest gift to hear the voice of the LORD in His revealing Word and to know that our Shepherd King is coming to judge the living and the dead. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD will bring you joy as you serve Him and follow His commands. Pray that the blind will see and the spiritually deaf will have their ears opened to hear the will of the Lord for our salvation. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 9 – Humbled that we might be lifted up

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? – Isaiah 53:8 Scripture readings: Isaiah 25; Isaiah 52:10-53:12 Every Lord’s Day, we are called to worship the LORD together as we celebrate the grace of God freely given to us in Jesus Christ. We do so with great joy because the Good News of our new life in Christ Jesus is extraordinarily good news to receive – whether we’re hearing it the first time or the thousandth time! In the midst of such joy, as part of our worship together, we also share together in a time of confession of sin that is humbling and sobering. We acknowledge that the LORD is good, that we are sinners, and that we need to and desire to hear the glad tidings of His forgiveness and reconciliation of our sins. As we take stock of the story of Daniel being a man of God, living with a fear of God, we should ask ourselves, “What are our expectations?” The book of Daniel is often held up as a story of triumph by way of morality. “Love God, give up a few things for Him, and you’ll be successful.” The danger of pride is great when we view our relationship with God like this. Even Christ was humbled unto death so that He might be exalted. The only triumph we are assured of in this life is the triumph of Christ Jesus over the powers of sin and death! The only hope we have rests in His humiliating death on the cross and His glorious resurrection that we celebrate on this day of resurrection joy! Suggestions for prayer Father, help us to remember who we are as sinners in need of your grace every day of our lives. Teach us to walk in repentance, faith and the joy of Christ. Open our hearts to grow in humility and holiness through your Holy Spirit. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 8 – Daniel the prophet

Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? – Esther 4:14 Scripture readings: Esther 4:1-17; Daniel 1:20-2:6 One of the challenges of the book of Daniel is that the first six chapters read like a story and the latter six like an account of one man’s strange dreams. We find it easier to read the story part and harder to read the dream sections, right? It can be helpful to ask what Daniel’s purpose is. Does he act as a deliverer or a prophet? Does he intervene for the well-being of God’s people like Esther when she spoke up to King Xerxes to avert a disastrous genocide in Persia? Looking closely, Daniel doesn’t actually serve God’s people as their deliverer even though he is in a high position. He opposes the king’s edicts, but he doesn’t lead a revolution. He warns the king of his pride, but doesn’t put a stop to the taunting of the exiles by the Babylonians (Psalm 137:3). The Lord raised up Daniel to chiefly serve as His prophet. He is not their champion, but he is their teacher of what it means to live with a fear of God. The text tells us in verse 17 about this calling to interpret visions and the remainder of the book shows us Daniel’s primary role as a messenger of the LORD to God’s people. The LORD anointed Daniel with His Spirit so that Daniel might proclaim God’s favour and covenant faithfulness to His people. Daniel and Esther foreshadow different aspects of Jesus’ ministry of revelation and redemption (Hebrews 1:1-4). Both are required and bring blessing to you! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would continue to reveal His truth to you! Praise God that He is both our Redeemer and the One who reveals the Way, the Truth, and the Life to us! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 7 – The turning point

I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:5-6 Scripture readings: Psalm 13; Daniel 1:18-21 The experience of the people of Judah in exile was not a happy one. They would suffer indignities and distress. They would weep on account of their wrongdoings and they would watch as the temptations of Babylonian life swept away many of their brothers who left the faith. Would they always be troubled? The experience of Daniel and his three friends declares quite clearly: no, it will not always be so! It is God’s sovereign will to save His people! Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s gifts from God are revealed to a watching world and He grants them all favour with King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a turning point – a moment when the blessing is visible again for God’s people. They are in exile, but the Lord is now acting to deliver Daniel and his friends from the expected outcome of their time in the training grounds. In Daniel 1:9 we read that, “God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the eunuchs.” It stands out as a relief and a delight to read of the LORD again showing favour and compassion to His people after all that they have (deservedly) gone through! I’m reminded of the question of the psalmist who cries to the LORD in Psalm 13, “Will you forget me forever?” And the psalm reflects on the turning point we all face in our lives when we remember that, “He has dealt bountifully with me.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for answering our humble cries for mercy and forgiveness! Express your gratitude for His gifts to you. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 6 – An object lesson for an exiled people

In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. – Daniel 1:20 Scripture readings: Psalm 66:16-20; Daniel 1:15-17 The whole reason that the people of Judah were in Babylon is that they had forsaken the way of God in exchange for the ways of the surrounding nations. Their lives were now a tragic example of what the judgment of God looks like. What should they do when their exile was a consequence of their unfaithfulness to God? The answer is simple. Be faithful to the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He can intercede and aid you in your distress. As the wise Teacher in Proverbs 3:5-6 taught Daniel and his friends, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” The outcome of such belief in the LORD will look different for you than it did for Daniel and his friends. You probably won’t rise as high as Daniel did or become as strong a student as they managed to. Nonetheless, the simple commitment to live with integrity and the fear of God is the answer to the question, “What should I do in the midst of these hardships?” The Lord dramatically displayed His will to set apart His servants for His purposes in the life of Daniel and He continues to display His will in your life, as you serve Him with thanksgiving for the life you have gained in Christ Jesus. Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to help you to find joy and strength in the midst of the trials you are going through. Ask the LORD to help you to remember that your faith is grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ who has forgiven your sins and given you new life in Him! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 5 – The fear of God in action

God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. – Daniel 1:17 Scripture readings: Hebrews 4:14-5:10; Daniel 1:5-17 The setup of the cultural assimilation project was completed by the end of verse 7. The young men of Judah would be persuaded to forsake their old god and old culture by living a life of comfort, culture, and advancement. They would take on their identities expressed in the names of the pagan gods Bel and Nebo which were woven into their new names. They would become good Babylonians. This is what makes verse 8 so awesome! The food and wine from the king’s table were linked with the religious rituals of the king’s gods and therefore Daniel and his three friends resolved to have no contact with it. The actions of these godly youths were to serve as an object lesson for an exiled people of what the fear of God looks like in action. Every time that this story is read of their refusal to participate in cultic religion, God’s people are shown what the fear of God looks like in action. Daniel and his friends stand in the godly fear of Noah in Genesis 6:8 and they foreshadow the righteous man, Jesus Christ, who would not turn aside to the left or the right or be defiled in any way. In the story of Daniel, a portrait of Christ emerges. He too was given a new name, Son of Man. He came to a worldly place, the world of sinners. He too was tested and tried in every way so that we might receive His unblemished and undefiled righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world so that we might be saved! Pray that the LORD will build us up in the fear of God so that we will face challenges with godliness and wisdom. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 4 – Into the world

They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. – Daniel 1:5 Scripture reading: Galatians 1:3-10; Daniel 1:1-7 Welcome to the University of Babylon! As part of an assimilation strategy, King Nebuchadnezzar provided for the education of the prominent youth of the exiles from Judah so that he might strip away their foreign ways and bring them into service in Babylonian society. Daniel and his young friends were, in the plan of the king, going to be more valuable to his empire than the cups of gold and silver that he had taken from their temple. Their introduction to success in Babylon is the thing that would strip them of their past loyalties and family ties. They had no path to success in Jerusalem anymore. They had a clear path to success in Babylon if they followed the program of study and cultural immersion into Babylonian life. Youths of this age in Judah were supposed to be learning the Torah – the catechism of their people. Now their lesson book was being swapped for the catechism of the Chaldean empire and religion. These youth also had their Hebrew, God-fearing names replaced with Babylonian, false-god worshipping names. Yet, as we will see, we know the Lord is strong to save! We know He guards His servants who call on Him in prayer. We know He walks with us in this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) that He might deliver us at the appointed time. We see this in Daniel’s life and we can certainly see this in our own lives in this world as well. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord. Pray for discernment to see how the Lord’s Word speaks to the circumstances you are in each day. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 3 – Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet

Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. – Jeremiah 23:2-3 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8; Lamentations 1:1-6 It’s alarming to think about the LORD’s perspective on the sins we commit against Him. We can’t escape the knowledge that our sins deserve judgment. God brought judgment upon the people of Judah because of their false worship and rebellion against Him. He did so by bringing the Babylonian army down upon them in three successive invasions. Every time that the Babylonians came, as God’s tool of justice against His covenant people, they took more of the Jews back to Babylon with them. This is how Daniel and his friends ended up in a city far from home in the midst of a pagan and prideful society. How could such a thing happen to them? They were just young men caught up in a calamity! Daniel and his friends ended up in Babylon because of other people’s sins. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, it is no surprise that sinfulness and rebellion against God have consequences in our lives and we frequently experience the consequences of the sins of others. Yet, we must acknowledge our own sin before God and confess our need for His forgiveness. This was the intended outcome of the exile of God’s people: that they would all repent of their sinfulness and be reconciled to God. The warning of coming judgment must also stir our hearts to fully confess our sin to the LORD and to rejoice in the freedom He grants to us in Christ Jesus our Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would show you the seriousness of your sin and the richness of His forgiving grace to you! Pray for guidance as you endure hardships and strive to grow in holiness and godliness as you serve the Lord today. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 2 – History and His story

The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. - Daniel 1:2 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 23:36-24:6; Daniel 1:1-2 Have you heard the saying that “all history is His Story”? The history of this world ultimately tells the story of the LORD’s holy will being worked out in time and therefore it is His story. A good example of this is in the opening two verses of the book of Daniel. In the first verse, we read that the covenant community of Judah was attacked by a foreign power and didn’t stand a chance against the mighty forces of the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian history books would tell us that their powerful armies were the reason they found success in conquering lowly Jehoiakim the King of Judah. Yet the LORD provides us with insight in the second verse that changes the picture: He gave the king into the hand of the Nebuchadnezzar. While vs. 1 describes a military showdown, vs. 2 provides us with an account of Who is really in control! It is the LORD Who gave the king, the people, and the temple of Judah into the hands of the Babylonians. He did this because of Judah’s sinfulness and rebellion against Him (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). He did this to display to His people the deep need we have for deliverance. He did this to prepare His people to receive their Saviour Who can bring joy and life to a dying and broken people. As we rest and worship on this Lord’s Day, we can rejoice together as we view our life stories in the context of His Story. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for delivering us from our bondage to sin and the powers of the evil one. Pray for strength to withstand temptation. Ask the LORD to increase your trust in Jesus Christ alone for deliverance from the powers of evil in this world. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of May

What does it look like to live in the midst of a pagan culture that does not honour or listen to God? What insights are there for us when we face a future that is filled with reports of hardship and unsettling predictions? The oracles of God and the testimony of Daniel and his three friends in the Book of Daniel are very relevant to the times in which we are living. This story of faith in the midst of fiery trials is a powerful lesson for all who face hardship and fears while walking by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we will read the first four chapters and reflect on the message of Daniel – a vivid and descriptive book filled with visions, dramatic moments, and the ultimate reassurance that the LORD is sovereign over all things. There are several remarkable characters in these pages of Scripture and every one of them has a message to tell us in our time of awaiting the end of our pilgrimage (1 Peter 2:11-12). You will meet villains who oppose the LORD and His anointed (Psalm 2:2). You will meet a few good men and follow along with their growth in character and holiness before God while in exile (Psalm 1:1-2). You will meet the Lord’s messengers who bring words of light to a people who walk in the midst of much darkness (Psalm 104:1-4). If you would like to explore the message of Daniel in more depth this month, I would recommend to you the Bible commentaries written by Sinclair Ferguson (The Preacher’s Commentary Vol 21) and Iain Duguid (Reformed Expository Commentary). Both of these gifted teachers have also recorded sermons on the book of Daniel which can be found on the monergism.com website. Our prayer is that we will see more fully the way that God’s people can have hope and confidence in the work of Jesus for us as sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. How could this be happening to me? Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. – Revelation 19:5 Scripture reading: Revelation 19:4-8; Daniel 1:1-6 In the midst of the hardships brought about by this ongoing global pandemic, the Lord’s Word provides us with a powerful reminder that He is in control of all things. He is sovereign. Everything which happens, He has willed for it to happen. If your life has been upended by the events of the past year, there is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Nothing in this world happens to us by chance. Rather, the Lord our God is actively caring for us through the trials of our lives. This is an important theme that helps us to understand the story of Daniel and the exiles who went to Babylon from Judah in the 7th century BC. As we read through Daniel together this month, I hope you will remember the words of praise that John the Apostle hears in the heavenly places in Revelation 19:5. The people of God rejoice because they can see the full picture and they are sure that the Lord will triumph! The LORD is to be praised because He is strong to save. We also, while reading of hardships to be endured by God’s people, can know that there is an end in sight to everything which God has said will take place, until His name is fully glorified and His people are able to enter into our everlasting resting place with God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being the One who comforts us in all our affliction. Pray for the humility to submit to God’s will for our lives and to rejoice that He is the most important character in our life story. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 30 – With the Lord forever

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” - Psalm 23:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:6 In the last phrase of the Psalm, David declares with sure hope that the greatest desire of his heart will be granted, namely, his desire to be with the LORD forever. We remember that David, and we along with him, can only say this and believe this because Christ is our Good Shepherd and Victorious King. It is only because Christ laid down His life for us, His sheep, winning for us a great victory, lavishly bestowing upon us all the blessings of heaven and shepherding us through this life, that we can declare this with confidence. Those of us who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. There are no “ifs” or “buts” about it, for as Paul says in Romans 8:38,39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  What joy and peace should fill our hearts to know that, believe and say that, for we get to see Jesus and be with Him forever. We dwell with Him and He with us now, spiritually. We see Him now with our eyes of faith. But there will come a day when we shall dwell with Him, both spiritually and physically and see Him perfectly, not just with our eyes of faith, but with these physical eyes resurrected. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would increase your desire to dwell with Him and dispel any doubt in your heart. Pray this for yourself, but also for the church around the world. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 29 – The pursuing faithful love of the Lord

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” – Psalm 23:6   Scripture reading: Psalm 23:6 Today we’ll focus on the first half of verse six. This verse closes the Psalm with essentially two definitive and declarative statements. Looking at the first one, we see David is declaring with absolute confidence that the goodness and mercy of the Lord will follow him all the days of his life. First of all, let’s look at the goodness of the Lord. David is declaring that all the days of his life he will see God working in wonderfully good ways. Second, David declares that the mercy of the Lord will follow him all the days of his life. The word that is translated as “mercy” is the Hebrew word “hesed," which is an incredibly important word. Hesed certainly means mercy, but it is a much more fulsome term than what can be translated by one English word. It means the covenantally faithful love of God. All through his life, David professes that the hesed of the Lord will be with him. But it is not just with him. The word that is translated as “follow” should really read, “pursue” or “hunt”. Essentially David is saying that the Lord is going to hunt him down only to cover him with goodness and faithful love every day of his life. Isn’t that true?  Not just in the life of David, but in yours?  Even when you don’t understand it in the moment, how many times can you look back over your life and see the goodness and faithful love of the Lord chasing you down and surrounding you?. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you the strength of faith to say with unwavering confidence, that His goodness and faithful love will hunt you down all the days of your life. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 28 – Overflowing blessings

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” - Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 The last phrase of this verse might be one that we run past as we recite or read this Psalm. Yet, the truth that our cup runs over is a beautiful one. All Christians, no matter how much they have suffered in their life, can say this phrase, “My cup runs over”. What is pictured for us in this phrase is that in the presence of the victorious king, the people at his table would drink with him and enjoy the spoils of victory. The wine-cup pictured here means so much more than simply enjoying victory. It is the cup of blessing. We are reminded that we get to drink of the cup of blessing because Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath. We are told here that Christ is not stingy with the wine, or with any of the blessings that flow from His heroic victory. The cup of blessing which we are given by Christ is overflowing. I urge you to think upon your own life. Can you not say that this is true?  No matter how much you have suffered, you can declare this with joy because you have Christ and all the eternal blessings that He gives to you. No one and no thing can take those blessings away from you. As a sure test, to see if you understand and believe just how blessed you are in Christ, ask yourself how joyful and thankful you are. Is the joy of Christ evident in your life? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with joy as you come to a greater understanding of just how blessed you are in Christ. Pray Christ would use you to infect the rest of His church with that joy and thankfulness. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 27 – Anointed by Christ

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” – Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 Turning our attention this time to the second phrase in this verse, we see a great blessing that is ours in Christ. We are anointed by Christ with oil. When we think of anointing, we often think of the anointed offices of the Old Testament: prophet, priest and king. Certainly, the idea of our being anointed as prophets, priests and kings is in view here. It was also customary to anoint favored or exalted guests at a feast. In this psalm, Christ is pictured as anointing us, favoring us and exalting us as esteemed guests at His victory feast, in full view of our enemies. Have you considered how much Christ values you?  Esteems you?  Even exalts you? Do you know that Christ, in saving you, has indeed made you little prophets, priests and kings, reigning with Him over all things?  As it is written in 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him” or also in 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?”  This is not just something that is entirely in the future either, but Christ exalts us even now, to such an extent that Paul talks about our future being seated next to Christ on His throne as if it has already happened. Ephesians 2:6 says, “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” . Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would help you to grasp how much you have been given in Christ and praise Him for it. Pray that as an anointed one of Christ, you would serve Him humbly and faithfully all of your life. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 26 – Our victorious servant King

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” – Psalm 23:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:5 At this point in the psalm, the imagery changes from Christ being our Good Shepherd, to Christ being our Victorious Servant King. In the first line of this verse, the imagery is quite foreign to our 21st-century minds. In ancient times, when a king conquered an enemy city, he would have a huge victory feast in the royal banquet hall of that city. The king and all his generals and men of valour would sit around the table and eat the spoils of their victory, all in full view of the enemy king or governor and all their children, wives and officials. The conquered enemy would have to watch while the victor feasted. David here is saying that Christ has won the victory and set up a table for Himself to feast at, in full view of His enemies. Christ certainly has won for us a great victory by dying on the cross and rising again so that we sit in victory over sin, death, the world, and the devil. We are reminded of that great victory when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, where we are invited to the table of Christ and get to partake of the spoils of His victory. We partake of Him and are refreshed and enlivened after the struggles of fighting the enemy. How often do you meditate upon the victory that Christ has earned for you?  How often do you go to Christ, the Servant King, to be fed and nourished with the spoils of His heroic victory? Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Lord to refresh and nourish you with Christ and with all that He has obtained for you by His heroic victory on the cross and the open grave. Pray this for yourself and for all of God’s people. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 25 – Christ’s staff

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 The second instrument of comfort that David names is the staff. This is what we normally picture when we think of a shepherd holding a staff, that long stick with a big hook on the end of it. The shepherd’s staff was used to keep the sheep from running away or going astray. If the shepherd saw a sheep starting to wander or run away from the flock, he could reach out with his staff and hook the sheep around the neck and bring it back, close to himself. This too is a great comfort to us, for it describes the type of love our Savior has for us. He will always come after us and bring us back to Himself, keeping us safe as He leads us to our final destination. It is a comfort for us even as we are walking close to Jesus for we are reminded that even if we were to go astray Christ would go after us and draw us back. It is a comfort for us even when we go astray and we feel the crook of his staff gently or even painfully pulling us back. You don’t have to walk with Christ very long to know the feeling of his staff around your neck. Whether it is a gentle tug or a strong and prolonged pull as we try to run away, it is comforting to know Christ will always keep us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would comfort you with His guiding presence and that Christ would always keep you near Him. Pray that Christ would continue to comfort all of His people, drawing them all closer to Himself. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 24 – Christ’s rod

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 In the last part of this verse, we are told that Jesus comforts us and is present with us, armed with His rod and staff. The rod and the staff were the two instruments of a shepherd. Today we will focus on the rod of Christ. The rod was a long, straight shaft, usually made out of wood, that the shepherd would use to defend the sheep from robbers and wild animals. When David describes Christ as being with Him even in the deepest and darkest valleys, and he is comforted by His rod, he is talking about the comfort which comes from knowing that Christ is his defender. Christ is there to protect him from all his enemies, namely the devil, the world and his own sinful heart. People place a high premium on feeling safe and secure. They will pay a lot of money for insurance on a host of things, such as their house, car, phones and even their own life. All of this is done in the hopes of garnering some kind of security (though I am not saying you should not have insurance). During this Covid-19 pandemic, it is amazing to me how silly people are when they are scared and panicked. They will literally grasp at straws to save themselves, whether it is stocking up on toilet paper and bottled water, or wearing their mask in their car. We as Christians never have a reason to fear, for we know that Christ is with us and He will protect us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would increase your faith to trust in Christ to protect you and that He would remove your trust for security in everything else. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 23 – You are with me

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” - Psalm 23:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:4 In ancient times, especially in the land of Canaan, a lot of the best farmland was in the valleys. It was also common that the roads and paths would not often go over the hills, but instead wind around them. However, if a shepherd were to lead his sheep into a deep valley, especially one with steep sides close together, that meant that the sheep were in a very dangerous situation. This is the valley David has in mind here, a deep, dark valley where you cannot see your enemies hiding and waiting to attack. Sheep would be easy prey to robbers and wild animals often hiding in the hills, prepared to attack anything that came by. David, in using this imagery, is explaining something very real to all of us. We all go through times in our lives when we are in danger, when we are scared of what might happen, or where we are even being attacked. We have all experienced going through the deep, dark valley of the shadow of death in one form or another in our lives. However, no matter how terrible the circumstance in which we find ourselves is, we never have to be afraid, for Christ is always with us. Hold fast to that truth dear Christian, even when it feels like you are all alone. Remember this unchanging truth, Christ is with you. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would comfort your heart and the hearts of all of His people with the truth of Christ’s presence with them as their Good Shepherd. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 22 – He leadeth me

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:3 Since our Good Shepherd leads us to Himself to refresh us and restore us continually from His Word, by the result of being restored by Christ, He will also lead us in paths of righteousness. Christ will always lead us in righteousness, to do righteousness for the glory of the name of the Father. Following our Good Shepherd on the path of righteousness is for our own good. Our sinful and deceitful hearts would like to believe the lie that sinning will really make us happy and blessed. However, the truly blessed life is lived in communion with God and in obeying Him, for the Lord’s commands are always right, good and true. In the cultural and sexual revolution in which we seem to find ourselves, what has become incredibly obvious to any person with sense, is that the people who are happiest and live the most blessed lives, even from a worldly perspective, are those who even just outwardly follow God’s law. The sheep that stay close to the shepherd always have an easier time of things. The sheep that run off trying to chart their own course and destiny are the sheep that end up in big trouble. For example, a relationship that has taken decades to build can be destroyed in a few minutes. The blessed life, the God-glorifying life, is the life lived following Jesus. Christ our Good Shepherd not only leads us to Himself, but also leads us in righteousness to the glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would keep you from sin and give you the strength to follow Christ in all of life. Ask the Lord to continually change the desires of His people away from the inclinations of our sinful hearts and to love God and our neighbor. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 21 – Christ restores my soul

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:3 Looking at just the first phrase of this verse, “He restores my soul,” we see what David really had in mind in verse two was not just physical things, though that certainly is included, but the emphasis is on spiritual things. We know we need food and drink. Jesus tells us to pray for that in the Lord’s Prayer. We also know, however, that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need to be spiritually fed and nourished by the Lord as well. Christ as our Good Shepherd, not only provides all we need physically, but also gives us all that we need spiritually. He leads us spiritually to green pastures and still waters. What are those green pastures and still waters?  Where is Christ leading us to restore our souls?  As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, He is leading us to the Word of the Lord. Christ is leading us to Himself, the Word, as He is revealed to us in the Word of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord Jesus would continue to lead you to Himself in His Word that you would be refreshed. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 20 – Christ my daily provider

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” – Psalm 23:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:2 Sheep are incredibly helpless and stupid animals. We probably have the image of nice white sheep that just graze in the field. We have these images in our minds because of pictures or movies. But anyone who has had to deal with sheep knows its intelligence level is only slightly above a turkey and quite a bit below a cow. Even goats are far more intelligent, tough and resilient creatures than sheep. Sheep need a shepherd and not just for when they are being attacked by wolves or have fallen into a deep ditch. Sheep need a shepherd even for the basic needs of life, food and water. This was especially true when David was a shepherd, for a shepherd would have to herd his flock long distances to find good pasture lands, wells or oases along the way, in the arid land of Canaan. This is a good reminder for us, that we don’t just need Christ when we are in trouble; we need Him all the time for even our most basic needs. We have a bad tendency to forget Christ when times are good and we feel like we have everything under control. Then when we are in trouble we cry out to Him. Do you realize that apart from Christ you can do nothing (John 15:5) and are nothing?  We need Christ all of the time, not just when we are in trouble. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would humble you to be more dependent upon Christ for all things. Ask for forgiveness for when you have forgotten your dependence upon Christ in the good times and ask for His help to praise and thank Him for His good gifts to you. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 19 – I shall not want

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 If Christ is our Good Shepherd it must be concluded that we shall never be in want. However, have we actually given that much thought?  Do we actually live our lives as though we believe that? The tenth commandment is one we probably skip across as we hear it read on Sunday. However, coveting is an incredibly deadly sin. In fact, if we covet, we are breaking every other commandment. If we covet, we do not want to worship God alone; we want to worship something else. We want to worship God with our money, our time, our resources our way, not God’s way. We want something that we think will satisfy us and make our name great, not God’s. We want to find our satisfaction in a person or a thing besides God. We want to be a god unto ourself to get what we want. We are going to hate and not truly love our neighbour, who has what we want. We commit spiritual adultery with what we want. We seek and desire to have what is not rightfully ours. We believe lies that if only we have this thing or this person, we will be fulfilled. Maybe we say, “Well good thing I don’t covet.”  Have you ever sought satisfaction in something or someone other than Christ?  Have you ever thought, “If only I had that, or could do this, then I would be happy?” If you have you are guilty. As Christians, we are to find our all in all in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for forgiveness for when we have sought satisfaction in other people or things, rather than in Christ alone. Pray that the Lord would give us hearts that are content in all circumstances, being completely and entirely filled with Christ. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 18 – Yahweh is my Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 Yesterday, we considered the significance of David using the personal name of God, “Yahweh”. We can trust in our God because He is the eternally sovereign One Who is covenantally faithful. This is important now as we come to the fact that Yahweh is our Shepherd. This verse has been consistently and rightly tied to Jesus' statement that He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14). Right at the beginning, David is declaring, and we with him, that Jesus, the covenantally faithful and sovereign God is the One that is our Shepherd. We will get to the various functions of a shepherd and thus our Good Shepherd as we go along. Here it is sufficient to consider that a shepherd is a leader of the sheep. In the days in which we live, we are learning just how important it is to have good leadership because we are surrounded by a lot of horrible leadership. Whether that is leadership in the government, sports teams, artistic productions and in churches, it seems that so many are either too power-hungry to care and love at all, or they are so passive and insecure that they refuse to stand for the truth. Having good leadership that is both loving and truthful is incredibly important. Let us thank God that Christ is the Head of His church and that He does lead us perfectly in truth and in love by His Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit, throughout all of life. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to our Heavenly Father for giving us our Lord Jesus to be our Good Shepherd, leading us in truth and love. Pray that the earthly leaders Christ has given us in the church, government and various societal functions we attend would be godly. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 17 – Our covenantally faithful God

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1 Psalm 23, placed between Psalms 22 and 24, is a wonderful reminder to us that as we dwell between the first and second comings of Christ, we are not forgotten. The Lord has not left us in this time to figure life out on our own or to live by our own strength. No! Rather, Christ is with us continually in this life as our Good Shepherd. Before we get to the LORD being our Shepherd, let us call to mind the significance of the fact that it is the LORD Who is our Shepherd. Whenever the Old Testament uses “LORD” for God’s name, the translators are attempting to differentiate between the name “Adonai”, which is translated as “Lord”, and “Yahweh”, which is translated as “LORD”. God never chooses a single word in the Scriptures carelessly. Every word is there for an important purpose. The fact that David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose to use the name “Yahweh” instead of “Adonai”, is significant. The name Yahweh is the personal name of God that not only communicates His sovereignty over all creation, but also His covenantal faithfulness to His people. Have you ever struggled to trust the Lord? My guess is that you have because we all have. In those moments of doubt, we must tether ourselves to this blessed truth, that our God is perfectly faithful to all of His covenant promises. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would cause us to trust Him more. Pray for yourself and for all of God’s people, that when we are filled with doubt, now or at some future time, the Holy Spirit will flood our minds with the gospel promises and strengthen our hearts to believe them. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 16 – The King of Glory shall come in

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah” - Psalm 24:9-10 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:8-10 We have many enemies from whom we need to be saved. I mentioned a few yesterday. We have many enemies summarized with the trifecta of Satan, the world and our own sinful flesh. We need Christ to be our Conquering Hero and Mighty Warrior Who will deliver us from all our enemies and all our problems. Think for a minute of all the things from which we need to be saved. We need our image remade, we need to be made alive again, we need a new heart with new desires, we need a new will, we need to be delivered from the curse of sin and given Divine blessing, we need our old nature put to death and replaced with a new one, we need sin taken away from us and righteousness attributed to us. We need to be delivered from the tyranny of Satan and to be issued out of the kingdom of darkness and made citizens of the kingdom of God. Certainly, there are things that we could add to that list; it is by no means exhaustive. We need a Hero who can save us from all of that and more. That is what we have in Christ. He is our Mighty Warrior King Who has won for us the great and decisive victory at the cross. This Psalm celebrates the arrival of the King after His great victory, the King of glory, Who is Himself our Mighty Warrior and the commander of the angelic armies to conquer all our enemies and defend us from them. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks and praise to the Father for sending His Son, our Lord Jesus, to be our Conquering King, Who heroically saved us from all our enemies. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 15 – Christ our mighty warrior

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.” - Psalm 24:8 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:8 In the previous verse, those who are with the coming King, are calling out to the gatekeepers to open the gates so that the King of glory shall come in. In this verse, we have the response of the gatekeepers, “Who is this King of glory?”  The answer that comes is beautiful and comforting. We read that the LORD is strong and mighty and specifically mighty in battle. This may sound a bit strange; maybe we don’t think of Jesus as being a mighty warrior. Yet, this is exactly how He is described here. This, of course, is what He was prophesied to be all the way back in Genesis 3:15. He would be the One Who would crush the head of the serpent. Christ is also described as such in Psalm 2, where it is said that He will break the nations that have risen up against Him like pottery smashed with a rod of iron. In Revelation, we have visions recorded for us, of Jesus having a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth and of Him riding upon a white war horse (Revelation 1:16; 19:11). This is not the Jesus that is proclaimed in many churches or certainly by many in our culture. Jesus is seen more like a kitten than like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet, this is the Jesus Who we need, the Jesus who will defeat all of our enemies and give us a great victory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord Jesus would destroy all the works of the devil and that He would continue to plunder his house, saving many unto eternal life. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has saved us from by dying on the cross. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 14 – The King is coming!

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” - Psalm 24:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:7 We now come to the third part of the Psalm (verses 7-10), where we see this excited and eager climax – excitement for the King to arrive – the King who can ascend the hill of the LORD and bring us with Him. We see this fulfilled at Christmas, in that Christ arrived on the scene of history to lead us to victory. These words are also fitting as we see the Triumphal Entry of Christ, as He entered Jerusalem and went to accomplish that victory. These words also point us to the Ascension of Christ, in that Christ has gone up before us into the very presence of the Father to intercede on our behalf and also to reign over all things. This section also anticipates the second coming of Christ, when He will finally take all of His people with Him to glory and to the new heaven and new earth. What we have in this section is a conversation between the one who announces the King’s coming and the gatekeepers. Think about how wondrous the Triumphal Entry must have been with Jerusalem all abuzz with Jesus’ entry. How wondrous it must have been to be a disciple of Jesus walking behind Him, as He rode into the city, singing His praises. How much more glorious will it be when Christ takes us with Him after His second coming?  How eager and excited are you for that day?  We cannot even fathom the joy that will fill our hearts in those moments. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with eager anticipation of Christ’s second coming. Pray that the Lord Jesus would come quickly and finally deliver us and all His people from all sin and this sinful world. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 13 – Seeking the Face of Christ

“This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah” - Psalm 24:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:6 In verse six there is an important point that is made which leads to a very important question that we must ask ourselves. We are told in the first line of verse six, that Jacob or the church, referring back to verse five, is blessed and receives the righteous salvation of the Lord. Continuing on in that line, we are told that those “who ascend into the hill of the LORD'' are those who seek the Lord (Psalm 24:3). Then again in the second line, we find a repetition, “Who seek Your face.” You find throughout the Scriptures and throughout the writings of the saints of church history, that all had an intense desire to see God. Moses asked for such a privilege in Exodus 33. It is the one desire of David as recorded in Psalm 27:4.  We are told in the New Testament, that in the face of Jesus Christ, all the fullness of the glory of God dwells (2 Corinthians 4:6, Colossians 1:15-20). The question then comes to us, do we want to earnestly see Christ now with our eyes of faith, and physically in the life to come?  Is that the greatest desire of our hearts?  Or are there idols that we would rather see? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would smash all the idols of your heart and that He would be the one desire of your heart. Pray for forgiveness for all the times that you sought your idols rather than seeking the Lord and finding satisfaction in Him alone. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 12 – The righteous acts of God

“He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah” - Psalm 24:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:5-6 In these two verses, we are told that those who place their faith in King Jesus, will be blessed and shall receive from the Lord righteousness. The second line of verse five is not a reference to the imputation of righteousness which one receives from Christ by believing upon Him, but rather refers to the righteous acts of the Lord in keeping His promises of salvation to the believer. Could we, who believe upon the Lord Jesus, as we have been brought near to the throne of grace and dwell in the presence of God, declare anything different?  Truly we, the people of God, are blessed in every way as we think upon the salvation that has been given to us in Christ. “This is Jacob” or we might say, “This is we who seek the Lord.”  We are blessed. For we who have no right to ascend into the presence of God, have been ushered in by Christ. We who only deserve God’s righteous wrath for all eternity, have instead received His righteous grace. This section ends with a “selah,” which means stop and reflect upon what was just said. Upon such a glorious truth, we must stop and reflect! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the grace of Christ would be highly valued by you and the church. Thank the Lord for the blessing and salvation that He has freely given to you by His grace. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 11 – Who may ascend?

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” - Psalm 24:3,4 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:3-4 These two verses show us our deep need for Christ. As we considered yesterday, God is holy. Here we are presented with the question, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?”  The answer is given in verse four, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.”  In other words, He who is perfect may come into the presence of the LORD. That means none of us, left to ourselves, can come into the presence of God, for we have all sinned (Romans 3:10-18). But praise be to God, for He sent Christ as our only High Priest, who can ascend into the hill of the LORD and stand in His presence. It is the sure hope of all of us who put our faith in Christ alone, that we are justified in the sight of God. Our sin is taken away, for Christ did away with it on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to us. It is in this way, and only in this way, that we may ascend into the presence of the Lord. All other attempts or ways are like the Tower of Babel, which have no chance of working, and will only end in ruins. There is no room for pride; we must in humble faith come to Christ, for He is our only hope of ascending into the presence of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would strengthen your faith, so that you trust in Christ alone for your salvation, and remove your trust in yourself, or anything or anyone else. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 10 – The Lord is holy

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 24:1-2 Psalm 24 is a Psalm that puts words to the joy and praise that we should have at the coming of the Messiah. It is a Psalm that can rightly be attributed to Christmas, the Triumphal Entry, the Ascension and the Second Coming of Christ. Lord willing, we will see this in the coming days. Verses one and two ground us in a never-changing truth which sets us up for the rest of the Psalm. If we were to summarize these two verses, we would say that the LORD is the King over all things. These verses show us the immensity of our God and just how awesome, majestic, holy and powerful He is. He is the Creator and Ruler over all things from the foundations of the earth to the birds of the sky. This leads us to the question, how do you view God?  When you talk to God in prayer, how do you speak to Him? Casually? Respectfully?  When you hear the Word of God, how do you hear it?  Do you listen intently and with awe?  Or do you listen to Him just like you do to everyone else?  These two verses are reminding us just how holy our God is. Yes, we are adopted into the family of God by Christ, but that does not mean that we should treat Him any less than holy. If anything it should mean that we see Him as more holy. Suggestions for prayer Pray for forgiveness for the times you have not respected the Lord as you should. Pray that God would show you His holiness and that you would have more respect, reverence and awe for Him. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 9 – It is finished

“They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.” - Psalm 22:31 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:30-31 As we close out this Psalm, I want us to reflect on the joy that is so clearly seen in the second half. It started with the greatest of grief, suffering and agony as it prophesied the death of our Saviour. Yet, the second half of this Psalm is filled with praise. Why?  The Lord has answered. He answered Christ on the cross by raising Him on the third day, and thus, every cry for forgiveness we utter is answered. For as Christ died and rose again, so we are dead to sin and alive in Him (Romans 6:4). Think upon those last words of the Psalm, “That He (Christ) has done this.”  Those words are very reminiscent of Jesus’ final words upon the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What joy should fill our hearts in knowing that our salvation is accomplished and secure in Christ. The joy-filled praise in the second half of this Psalm is almost palpable. Is this the joy that you have?  When you talk with others, and especially when you are sharing the truth of the gospel with others, would they sense real joy in your voice?  It is one thing to convey the truth of the gospel to others, it is another thing entirely to tell the gospel with joy-filled praise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with the joy that can only be found in Christ and in the salvation He provides. Pray that the Lord would help you to communicate the gospel to others with true joy that leads them to glorify God. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 8 – Proclamation to the next generation

“A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.” - Psalm 22:30 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:30-31 As we reflect upon the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ in this Psalm, we see that it comes to an ending with a strong emphasis on telling the next generation of the salvation of the Lord. This is maybe not how we would expect this Psalm to end. However, as is all of God’s Word, it is certainly perfect, isn’t it? As a helpful test to see how important the salvation of Christ is to you, ask yourself how much you desire to teach the next generation about Christ. There are churches that have a hard time finding enough people to teach Catechism and parents who leave the teaching of the Scriptures to the church and/or school. If the gospel of Christ is important to you, then you will declare it and recount it to your children, your grandchildren, and the children of the church. If you are not diligent in prayer and proclaiming the gospel to the next generation, it must conclude that the gospel of Christ is not very important to you and not something over which you really rejoice. You do not have to do big things, you don’t even have to be a Catechism teacher. But you should, in daily life, strongly desire to share the gospel that means so much to you. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a heart that deeply values the gospel of Jesus and loves all people, a heart that wants to share it with everyone, including the next generation. Pray that the children in your family, church and community would come to a saving faith in Jesus. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 7 – Christ’s saving reign

“All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” - Psalm 22:27 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:27-29 As we approach the end of this Psalm, we see what a glorious ending it is. How glorious it is to reflect on the realities of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. We read in verse 27 that God will gather to Himself, in Christ, a people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation  5:9). Not only this, but Christ, in being raised, has overcome the entire world (John 16:33). As we see in verse 28, the LORD’s reign is over all the nations. Everyone is under His dominion, however not all will be saved. Yet, the saving reign of Christ extends not only to all the ends of the earth, but also to the rich, the poor and the dying. When we consider the death and resurrection of Christ, we should be in awe and wonder at not only the sufficiency and effectiveness of Christ to save, but also the extent to which Christ’s salvation is spread. It is not limited to one family or one group of people, but as was promised to Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would continue to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and that He would be pleased to use us for that end. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 6 – Never forgotten

“For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.” – Psalm 22:24 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22-26 Left to ourselves, we are poor. We are spiritually bankrupt. “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is our most dire problem. However, to add insult to injury, we also suffer great pain as we go through this life as the result of sin. Whether that is the loss of a loved one, broken relationships, physical poverty, or the stresses of the unknown future, we all suffer the effects of this broken world. I hope we see the enormity of the problems that we face. We are completely broken and impoverished as we live in a world that is suffering under the weight of the curse. Yet, as verse 26 says, we are never without a sure and secure hope, for because Christ is risen, we who are poor in our sins are fed and satisfied. Even though we suffer in this life with the effects of sin and the curse, we are never forgotten nor left alone. God will always hear us, answer us and deliver us as verse 24 says. Whatever our affliction, no matter how poor we are in any way, we have reason to rejoice for Christ died and is risen! Praise the Lord for His complete deliverance which He gives to us. The last phrase in verse 26 is often translated as a wish. “Let (or may) your heart live forever!”  However, it is to be translated with much more surety than that. This is your sure hope, “Your heart shall live forever.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would continue to open your eyes to the brokenness in your own sinful heart, as well as the brokenness in the world. Pray that He would open your eyes to the wonderful, powerful and eternal salvation provided in Christ. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 5 – Christ the choirmaster

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” – Psalm 22:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22 Yesterday, as we considered the resurrection of Christ and that the Father answered Christ’s prayer in raising Him from the dead, we saw that rejoicing with praise is the only proper response we could have. The words of the second half of this Psalm lead us there. But now I want to consider just verse 22 in the light of Hebrews 2:12. In Hebrews 2, the author quotes Psalm 22:22 and says that this verse applies directly, not just to us as we might expect, but also to Christ Himself. The author of Hebrews is making the point that Christ is our Elder Brother and  He will declare the name of the Father to us, singing with us, in the midst of the assembly the glories of the Father. I wonder if we think about this glorious truth that the author of Hebrews is making known to us as he quotes Psalm 22 when we sing in church?  When we sing, and especially when we sing in the context of corporate worship, we are not just joining with saints below and saints above as well as all the angelic hosts, we are joining with Christ, the great Choirmaster as He personally leads us in the singing of the praises of God. Next time you are in church, I encourage you to think about this while you are singing. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as you sing, you do not simply say the words, or just enjoy the music, but ask for forgiveness when you do. Ask God to remind you as you sing that you are joining with all the saints, angelic beings and chiefly with Christ in singing the praises of God. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 4 – He is risen indeed!

“You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” - Psalm 22:21c-22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:21-31 He is risen! He is risen indeed!  Having walked thus far through this Psalm and the account of our Saviour’s suffering, dying and His body being laid in the tomb, the words of verse 21 should vault us into great rejoicing, just as Mary Magdalene did when she saw Jesus on Easter morning. Read those wonderful words again, “You have answered Me.”  On Easter morning, the Father certainly did answer the prayer of Christ upon the cross. The Father raised Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is no wonder that verses 22 and following are full of praise and rejoicing. Certainly that Easter morning Christ was rejoicing, all of heaven was rejoicing, and though the disciples were slow to understand and believe, they eventually got there too. And so as we read this passage, we too should want to proclaim and sing the glories of our God. Christ is risen, brothers and sisters! Rejoice and sing: “Sin’s bonds severed, we’re delivered, Christ has bruised the serpent’s head; Death no longer is the stronger, Hell itself is captive led. Christ has risen from death’s prison, O’er the tomb He light has shed” (Praise the Saviour, Now and Ever: stanza 3).” Our prayers for salvation are assuredly answered because of that Easter morning. “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him (Christ); But when He (Christ) cried to Him (The Father), He heard” (verse 24). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with joy in knowing that just as the Father answered the prayer of Christ, so our every prayer will be heard and answered. As you pray for forgiveness from your sins, for a clean heart, to be remade in the image of Christ and to be granted eternal life, you will be heard and answered for He is risen! Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 3 – Wait on the Lord

“But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me, O My Strength, hasten to help Me!” - Psalm 22:19 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:19-21b While originally these two verses were certainly a cry of David, this was also a cry of Christ upon the cross. On this day, between Christ’s death and His resurrection, we remember the prayer of our Saviour upon the cross. When Jesus cried to His Father, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?,” we see the perfect faith that Christ had, even as He suffered under the wrath of God for our sin, for Christ had to wait on His Heavenly Father. Christ had to endure dying on the cross, and even though His human soul was in heaven, He had to wait until Sunday. We maybe look at this and say, “Well, Christ only had to wait three days!  My suffering has gone on for years!” Let us remember two things: first, that Christ suffered more than we know during His entire life on this earth, and second, in the grand scheme of eternity, what is the real difference between three days and 80 years?. Dear Christian, think about this. Even our Savior had to wait upon His Father to be delivered from death and be victorious over it. Even He experienced what it was like to be a disembodied soul. Therefore, our Savior can perfectly sympathize with us in every valley, even death itself. Yet, He was raised in the speediness of three days for our comfort and benefit, as we will celebrate tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would remind us of the patience of Christ, waiting to be delivered. Remember that we have a sympathetic High Priest in every single trial we face, but also the sure comfort of Christ’s resurrection. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 2 – See the love of your Savior

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.” - Psalm 22:16-17 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-18 Today we remember the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Psalm 22, David gives us the prophetic words of the suffering of our Lord on the cross. This is the Psalm that Jesus quotes while on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The New Testament writers also use this Psalm to show how Christ’s death perfectly fulfills this prophecy. I encourage you to read the words of the first 18 verses of this psalm slowly. Let each phrase fall upon you like a hammer blow and resound like a church bell. Christ suffered in a way that is completely incomprehensible to us. The descriptions of the physical suffering of Christ in this Psalm and in the Gospels are horrendous enough, but nothing compared to what He suffered in His soul. On that cross, He suffered an eternities’ worth of hell for every sin of every saint. We cannot comprehend or understand what it means to suffer for one sin in that way. Today is called Good Friday because, for us who believe upon Christ, we will never have to experience any of God’s wrath against our sin. We experience His discipline and displeasure at our sin, sure, but never His wrath. See, brothers and sisters! See the love of your Savior, today and every day, as you think upon His willingness to go to the cross for you and suffer as He did. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to our Lord Jesus for willingly going to the cross to die in our place. Give thanks that He was willing to suffer and be rejected by God that we might forever be received by Him. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 1 – Introduction to our study of Psalms 22-24

Hello, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we are going to be considering three psalms. I would say three very important psalms, but then again all of the psalms are important!  In the month of April, we are going to be celebrating Good Friday and Easter and one of the psalms we are going to consider speaks to both of these redemptive events. One of the other psalms speaks to the event covered last month, the Triumphal Entry, and another event that we won’t get to in this month, the Ascension. The third psalm we will consider is probably the most well-known psalm of recent decades. Wonder what these three important psalms are?  Psalm 22, 23 and 24. These three psalms form a triplet. Many of the psalms are grouped together, for example, Psalms 1 and 2 are a couplet that forms the introduction to the Psalter. Psalms 146-150 form a quadruplet of grand doxology at the end of the Psalter. Looking at Psalm 22, you notice right away that this psalm prophesies the crucifixion of Jesus. It also anticipates and prophesies Christ’s resurrection. Psalm 24, on the other hand, anticipates the Triumphal entry, but ultimately, it draws our attention to the Ascension of Jesus as well as His final coming. Then, nestled between these two great pillars of Psalms, speaking of the redemptive work of the Messiah, is Psalm 23. Psalm 23 speaks to the Christian in the “right here and right now”. I have heard it said that Psalm 23 is overused. I couldn’t disagree more! It is a psalm that speaks to Christians where we are right now in redemptive history because of the death, resurrection, ascension and anticipated final coming of Christ Jesus. Therefore, not only do these psalms speak powerfully of the salvation we have in Christ and comfort we now have in Him, but these psalms are also inspired words to be used by us to glorify our Triune God for the great things that He has done. God’s wise plan “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me? And from the words of My groaning?” – Psalm 22:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-8 Today is the day in which we remember the Last Supper, the recounting of Jesus praying and His subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It also happens to be April Fool’s Day, a day in which a lot of good-natured fun can be had playing pranks on those we love. Today, I want us to take this secular day literally for a second because we also see something very clearly in our culture. When the world looks at what Jesus is about to do, it looks foolish to them. As we think of the Garden of Gethsemane, question why Jesus would willingly give Himself up?  He could have easily gotten away before Judas found Him. Why would Jesus willingly give Himself to be crucified on a cross? Then, turning the attention to Christians, why would they believe that Jesus dying on the cross would atone for their sins?  All of this looks like foolishness to the world. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24, “But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  As we focus our attention on Christ’s sacrificial death tomorrow, have we considered it to be Divinely wise?  Do we see this as the most perfect and beautiful plan that could ever be devised for our lives and our salvation? Suggestions for prayer Let us ask the Lord to help us to see just how wise the plan of salvation is that Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Pray that the Lord would give us boldness to proclaim this salvation to a world that sees it as foolishness. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 31 – God’s judgment day

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 5:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:14 At the end of Ecclesiastes, we come face to face with God’s end-time judgment. It is the conclusion we want to hear after hearing that life is a vapor uncontrollable by us. Fearing God and walking in obedience is man’s core purpose. Thus, we are glad God is the judge. There is comfort in God’s judgment. Why? First, our sins were judged by God in Jesus Christ. They are forgiven so now as Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24). Christ has delivered us from the judgment of God in taking that judgment for us. Second, we see the comfort of the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. For those in Christ, it will be a public declaration of sins forgiven and a time where our deeds of faith will be rewarded. Of course, those works are His works in us, but He gives us the rewards. Thirdly, there is the comfort that the wicked unrepentant sinner will be judged. God is just. It will not be well with the wicked. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is that life is a vapor, but that God keeps life a mystery to us and brings us what He wills, so that we might receive His grace and that in grace, we trust in and live by His Word through life, unto eternity. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would keep us in the church to hear His Word so we will remember He is our God Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 30 – The conclusion of the whole matter: keep God’s commandments

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13b The new life Christians live in the Holy Spirit is the life of the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Ecclesiastes reminds us of this in v.13, “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Fearing God and keeping His commandments go hand in hand. Faith in the Lord leads to love for the Lord and love for the Lord leads to obedience (1 John 5:3; John 14:15, 21). Fearing God includes loving God. One key purpose of Jesus’ salvation work is that we would be saved to obey Him forever (Romans 14:9). Because Christ is our Saviour, He tells us the first and second commandment is our righteousness so that God’s law is fulfilled in us. We are also now learning obedience, and being transformed into the image of Christ, Who is our obedience. Which commands do we obey in the Lord? The commands given in Ecclesiastes to enjoy life in God’s name and trust in God. The other commandments include God’s law written on our hearts by the Spirit (Hebrews 10:16) and the fruits of the Spirit. Suggestion for prayer Ask God to help you love Him more and more every day. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 29 – The conclusion of the whole matter: fear God

“Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13a Ecclesiastes 12:13 commands God’s children to fear God (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12). What does it mean? It does not mean we have to be frightened before God, though He is awesome, all-powerful, breath-taking and makes us often tremble. It does not mean He is cruel. No one ever is afraid of God because He is cruel! Fearing God first of all means having faith in and love for Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Why? Because God has given us Jesus, and He calls us to trust in Him. Christ is our justification, sanctification, redemption and our wisdom. And to fear God is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning and everlasting life with His wisdom, Jesus Christ. Secondly, fearing God means taking God seriously. When it is put this way people have images of God knowing everything about you, of God sending down fire on Sodom, of God on Mt. Sinai in the fire and smoke, of His holiness and terrible judgment on evil, and of His unconquerable control. Are these things true? Yes, absolutely true and we should take them seriously and reverence God. But there is this too. Fearing God is taking God’s grace and gifts in life just as seriously. Fearing God is believing He loves you and has given you Himself in Christ and the Holy Spirit. We are not righteous and we are not God. So we need God’s mercy and guidance and He gave and gives it to us in Christ by the Spirit. Suggestion for prayer Pray for the grace of fearing God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 28 – The conclusion of the whole matter

"Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."  – Romans 10:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-13 We are now in the last section in Ecclesiastes. Verse 11 tells us these words are from Christ, the One Shepherd. Our Lord put it plainly, “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep.” Well, in Ecclesiastes, Jesus is leading His flock with His truth. Jesus brings us to chapter 12:13-14. Notice the first phrase in v.13. The idea here is, “Now that you’ve heard God’s Word, this is the final result of the matter.” We are not able to figure everything out in life, but there are hope and joy. However, it is not about figuring out everything in life because life is vanity, uncontrollable by us. Biblical wisdom includes an honest acknowledgment that life in this world is often a mystery to us. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 is a call for faith in God! We have heard God’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Yet, God in love brings us to this conclusion: we need God, so the final grand result of the matter is “fear God, and keep His commandments…for God will bring everything into judgment.”Fearing God and keeping His commandments are actions of faith for the Christian. We will explore these actions in the next two days. Suggestion for prayer Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Pray God helps you understand His Word. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 27 – The call to faith

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

Daily devotional

March 26 – The call to faith

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

Daily devotional

March 25 - The call of joy

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 22 – Remember the overarching message of Ecclesiastes

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

Daily devotional

March 21 – An amazing chocolate factory

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

Daily devotional

March 20 – Serving others generously today

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

Daily devotional

March 19 – Serving others generously

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

Daily devotional

March 18 – God’s giving grace

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

Daily devotional

March 17 – Take the risk of serving others

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 14 – Boast in Jesus who is our wisdom

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

Daily devotional

March 13 – Continue with Jesus

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

Daily devotional

March 12 – In Christ you are wise

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

Daily devotional

March 11 – Our much talking spoils many good things

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

Daily devotional

March 10 – Our miscalculations spoil many good things

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

Daily devotional

March 9 – Foolish leaders spoil many good things

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

Daily devotional

March 8 – Rage spoils many good things

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

Daily devotional

March 7 – The treasure of wisdom

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

Daily devotional

March 6 – Jesus is wisdom from God to save us

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 1 – Introducing our study of Ecclesiastes 9-12

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

Daily devotional

February 28 – The consummation of God’s mission for His glory

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away - Revelation 21:1 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:8-13 Today is again a Sunday. Earlier we saw that every Sabbath day was meant to remind Israel that the reason for her existence was that she was called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. We also saw that the Sabbath was a guarantee that God would one day reach this goal. One day, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is now hidden in the glory of the Father, will suddenly appear in glory and usher in the eternal Sabbath rest in the kingdom of God where humanity and creation will be transfigured by being glorified into the likeness of the resurrected and glorified Christ. Before this, God will first come in judgment with a cosmic fire that completely destroys the old heavens and the earth with all its unrighteous works. Once the heavens and earth are completely destroyed, God will usher in a new heaven and earth, according to His promise, where righteousness will dwell. Thus, the continuity between the old creation and the new creation lies in God’s faithfulness to His mission for His glory to make all things new. God’s mission for His glory, which began with the creation of the world and humanity, will then continue for all eternity as a new humanity participates in this mission for God’s glory by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven, visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His faithfulness to His mission. Thank Him that every Sunday is a guarantee that His mission for His glory will reach its goal in a new heaven and new earth where He will be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 27 – Christ living in us and God’s mission

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20 Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 When God fulfills the promise of the new covenant by circumcising our hearts and filling us with the Holy Spirit, it is no longer we who live, but Christ Who lives in us. Just like a vine reproduces its own life in its branches, so Christ reproduces His life of glorifying the Father in our lives when we, through faith, clothe ourselves with Him, through the Holy Spirit. Participating in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible through having Christ live in us with His Spirit will lead to a cruciform or cross-shaped life. This involves denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus. In losing our life and following Jesus, we will find it in His death and resurrection. However, this will lead to a participation in the sufferings and death of Christ. Participating in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through having Christ Jesus live in us with His Spirit, will also lead to a resurrectional life that bears witness to the resurrection of God’s new creation. This resurrection life of God’s new creation is a manifestation of the wholeness of a life of love for God and one’s neighbour. However, like leading a cruciform life of daily putting off the old self in Adam, leading a resurrectional life of daily putting our new self in Christ will involve participating in the sufferings of Christ. Yet, these sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the blessing that Christ now lives in us with His Spirit when we put Him on through faith. Ask your heavenly Father to help you consider it a joy to suffer together with Christ. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 26 – Christ pouring out the Spirit and God’s mission

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. - Acts 2:33 Scripture reading: Acts 2:1-13 Having been born by and anointed with the Holy Spirit, having offered the Father the sacrifice of His life and death through the Spirit, having been vindicated by the Spirit when He arose, having ascended into heaven through the Spirit and been exalted at the right hand of His Father, Jesus received from His Father the promise of the new covenant Spirit. He poured this Spirit out on the church on the day of Pentecost as the climax of Israel’s history and of the history of His life. Jesus had promised that He would ask His Father to send Israel the Spirit. He commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait to be baptized with the Spirit as the fulfilment of the promise of the Father. Obedient to this command, the disciples remained in Jerusalem where, with a group of about 120 people, they devoted themselves to prayer. When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all in one place. Suddenly, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and all began to proclaim the mighty works of God in different languages as the Spirit enabled them. This symbolizes the incorporation of the nations into Israel, participating in God’s mission for His glory. Peter explains that by participating in Christ’s prophetic ministry from heaven, the promise of the new covenant, where in the last days God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Was fulfilled. This outpouring of the Spirit is the climax of Israel’s history and the history of Jesus’ life before He returns. Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father that Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and ask Him to daily fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you can faithfully participate in God’s mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 25 – Christ’s ascension and God’s mission (2)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering - Hebrews 12:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:18-24 Having ascended into heaven, Christ continues to participate in His Father’s mission for His glory by fulfilling His threefold office of king, priest, and prophet. He is the head and mediator of the new covenant and Lord of the universe. As king, He is rewarded for His obedience by being given the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow. He participates in His Father’s mission for His glory as the great Son of David leading history to its ultimate fulfilment in the coming kingdom of God through his Word and Spirit. As priest, He participates by interceding for His people. As prophet, He continues to confront His church and the nations with the good news of the coming kingdom of heaven, urging them to repent and believe or face the fire of God in His coming judgment and be excluded from this kingdom. Participating in God’s mission for His glory involves participating in Christ glorifying His Father in heaven as priest when we come together for worship on earth. This also involves our participation in His prayers as we pray not only for ourselves, but for the world in His name. Moreover, it involves participating in Christ’s prophetic ministry of preaching the good news of the coming kingdom and calling people to repentance. Furthermore, it involves participating in Christ’s kingly ministry of announcing the forgiveness of sins, exercising church discipline, administering the sacraments and participating in the gifts of the Spirit Christ gives as the ascended king. Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father that participating in His mission for His glory on earth involves the privilege of participating in Christ’s ministry of glorifying His Father as prophet, priest, and king in heaven. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 24 – Christ’s ascension and God’s mission (1)

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God - Colossians 3:3 Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11 Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, through the power of the Holy Spirit, inheriting the glory of God, glorified with the glory He had in His Father’s presence before the world existed. The disciples only saw Him ascending. They did not see Him entering heaven because a cloud took Him out of their sight. The two angels needed to tell them that Jesus had ascended into heaven. While a cloud reveals God’s glory, it also conceals His glorious presence. Thus, as the resurrection had a hidden character, so also the ascension had a hidden character because it conceals Christ’s glorious presence since He is now hidden in the glory of God (Colossians 3:3). Moreover, those who have been made alive together with Christ, through faith, participate in Christ being hidden in the glory of the Father. Their life is hidden with Christ, in God, because they are seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6). Accordingly, their life also has a hidden and mysterious character like Christ’s life. This means that participating in God’s mission for His glory by living in Christ involves living with a mystery that has an already and not yet aspect to it. On the one hand, God’s mission for His glory and our participation in it has already been completed in Christ because sin, death, and the devil have been conquered in Christ. On the other hand, they have not yet been defeated in this life. This leads to the tension of the already and not yet of the Christian life. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to give you the wisdom you need to navigate the tension of the already and not yet character of the Christian life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 23 – Christ’s resurrection and God’s mission

...And was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. - Romans 1:4 Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-7 Jesus not only predicted His death, but He also announced He would rise from the dead. In doing so, He linked His resurrection to His death. As such, His resurrection from the dead was God’s judgment upon the miscarriage of justice that took place when Jesus was innocently condemned to death.  When the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, God reversed His condemnation of being a blasphemer and a political threat and vindicated His claim that He was God and Israel’s true Messiah. Moreover, God vindicated Jesus as His true Son, Who was the theatre of His mission for His glory and participated in His mission for His glory by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven and visible on earth by being a person and place where heaven and earth meet. As such, He is the true son of Adam, Abraham, and David. Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection was proof that, as king, He defeated our real enemies: sin, death, and the devil. Consequently, He rose from the dead with a glorified resurrection body as the first fruits of God’s new creation, as a fulfillment of the promise of a new covenant. In addition, because He rose from the dead through the Spirit, Jesus was able to pour forth the Spirit, enabling God’s people to participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that because Jesus rose from the dead, He is able to pour out this Spirit on you enabling you to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 22 – Christ’s sacrifice of his death and God’s mission

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” - Luke 22:20 Scripture reading: Luke 22:14-23 Having identified with Israel with the sacrifice of His life as their substitute and representative, Jesus also identifies with them with the sacrifice of His death in order to deal with the problem of sin, death and the devil and bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations. After entering Jerusalem as Israel’s king and bringing the temple service to a standstill, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples giving the elements of bread and wine a new interpretation. The bread was interpreted as His body and the wine as His blood of the new covenant, clearly alluding to the blood of the old covenant. In this, Jesus is interpreting His own imminent death as the means that will bring about a new exodus that will deal with the problem of sin, death, and the devil once and for all. In dying a death on the cross, Christ continued to surrender His life to His Father and offer Him the sacrifice of His death through the power of the Holy Spirit as His people’s substitute and representative. In doing so, He continued to fulfill all righteousness and deal with the problem of sin by making atonement for His people’s sin, removing it from God’s sight and stilling His wrath. As a result, He reconciled His people to God and freed them from the curse of the law and the power of the devil, so that they can continue to participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible and bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He dealt with the problem of your sin by removing it from His sight and reconciling you to Himself, freeing you from the curse of the law and the power of the devil so that you can participate in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 21 – Christ’s sacrifice of His life and God’s mission

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father - John 14:9 Scripture reading: Luke 4:1-13 Having identified with Israel when He was baptized by John and having been anointed with the Spirit when He rose from the water of His baptism, Jesus continued to identify with Israel by offering the Father the sacrifice of His life, through the Holy Spirit as Israel’s substitute and representative. This began by His being led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days where He was tempted by the devil with regard to His relationship with Himself, the world and God. In being tempted for forty days in the desert, He is repeating, in Himself, Israel’s temptation in the desert for forty years and Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. However, where Adam and Eve and Israel failed, Christ, as the faithful Adam and true Israel, passed the devil’s temptations in the power of the Spirit. Having passed the devil’s temptations in the power of the Spirit where Adam, Eve and Israel had failed to pass them, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the coming kingdom of heaven in the power of the Spirit, and demonstrated this by healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead in the power of the Spirit. Moreover, He perfectly kept and embodied the law of love in the power of the Spirit. As such, Jesus participated in His Father’s mission for His glory and made His Father visible on earth by surrendering His life to His Father and thankfully offering Him the sacrifice of His life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of love for you and that what Jesus has done for you He now wants to do in you through His Holy Spirit as you put Him on through faith and abide in Him. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 20 – Baptized with the Spirit and God’s mission (2)

...And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased… - Luke 3:22 Scripture reading: Luke 3:21-22 Jesus was not only baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to be empowered for His mission as Israel’s true prophet, priest, and king. He was also baptized with the Holy Spirit because He would baptize all flesh with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. In His baptism with the Spirit, He permanently possessed the Spirit. As such, He is God’s beloved Son with Whom the Father is well pleased. Having a family of sons and daughters, who are permanently filled with the Holy Spirit, who participate in His mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth, is what God always wanted. This is why He created Adam and Eve in His image. This is why He commanded them to participate in His mission for His glory by commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. They were to have dominion over creation, ruling together with Him as kings and taking care of creation together with Him as priests. In doing so, they would spread the life of Eden over the whole earth. This is why He embarked on a redemptive mission for His glory by promising to defeat sin, death and the devil and make all things new (Genesis 3:15). This is why He chose Abraham and Israel to participate in His mission for His glory as His treasured possession and make Him visible to the nations by being His kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is why He chose you. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He adopted you in Christ to one day be fully filled with the Holy Spirit so that you can make Him visible on a new earth. Thank Him that He has given you the first instalment of the Spirit so you can begin to make Him visible to those around you. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.  ...

Daily devotional

February 19 – Baptized with the Spirit and God’s mission (1)

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. - Matthew 3:16 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:13-17 Having been conceived and born by the Spirit, Jesus grew and became strong in the Spirit. Moreover, He was baptized by John in the Jordan. Because Israel had failed to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible on earth, John calls them to repent and be baptized with a baptism of repentance or else face the fire of God’s coming judgment. Christ, however, identifies with Israel and is baptized just like Israel in order to fulfill all righteousness, even though He, as the true Israel, does not need a baptism of repentance. In doing so, as God’s beloved Son, He publicly and officially becomes Israel’s substitute and representative so that Israel can be freed from the curse of the law and can finally fulfill its role of bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations, by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Having identified with Israel as their substitute and representative, Jesus was also baptized or anointed with the Spirit when He rose from the water of His baptism. Whereas being anointed with oil in the Old Testament symbolized being publicly consecrated for being a prophet, priest, or king and being empowered for these tasks by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is publicly consecrated and empowered for His task as Israel’s prophet, priest, and king directly by the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, Jesus will fulfill His mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that, because you share in the anointing of Christ, you participate in His ministry of prophet, priest, and king, and in doing so, you participate in God’s mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 18 – Conceived and born by the Spirit and God’s mission

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. - Luke 1:35 Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 God began to fulfill the promises of the new covenant by having Israel return to the Promised Land. However, because He did not circumcise their hearts, the generation that returned was no better than the generation that had been sent into exile. Because they too resisted the Holy Spirit, they were not the theatre of His mission for His glory making God visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. So, God demonstrates His faithfulness to the creational purpose of His mission for His glory and His promise of a new covenant where He would make Israel into a new creation by sending His own Son in our flesh as Israel’s substitute and representative to be this theatre of His mission for His glory. In order to make Israel into a new creation by circumcising their hearts and filling them with the Holy Spirit, God’s Son needs to be conceived and born through the Holy Spirit. For even though the Son possessed the Spirit as the eternal Son of the Father, in order for Him to fill or baptize Israel with the Spirit, He also needs to possess the Holy Spirit as a human being, because as the holy, incarnate Son of God, He will baptize Israel and those who are grafted into Israel through faith with the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, the Son of God took on our flesh through the Holy Spirit so that, as the holy, incarnate Son of God, He could baptize or fill with the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that Christ was also able to baptize His people with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to open your eyes to where you may be resisting the Spirit. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 17 – Becoming a new creation and God’s mission

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 Scripture reading: Ezekiel 36:22-38 God will achieve the goal of His mission for His glory by circumcising His people’s hearts. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit, by making them into new creations that are receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading. Consequently, they will not live in the flesh, but in the Spirit with the law written on their hearts, bearing witness to the life of heaven on earth. Moreover, God will cleanse them of their sins. He will forgive them their sins and spiritually cleanse them from sin’s effects. Furthermore, God will have His people return to the Promised Land where they will live under a Davidic king as one people, with Him being their God and them being His people. The temple will also be restored, the nations incorporated into this covenant, as promised to Abraham, and the land and creation will enjoy an abundant fruitfulness comparable to the Garden of Eden. This is nothing less than a resurrection from the dead and a new creation. God will do this for the sake of His name. Because this covenant is an eternal covenant, it is also God’s last covenant with Israel that will not be superseded by another covenant. The restoration of the Jews in the Promised Land marked the beginning of the fulfilment of the new covenant promises. However, this was merely the beginning, for the ultimate fulfilment of the new covenant promises will take place in the new heavens and the new earth. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who writes His law upon your heart making you receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 16 – The promise of a new covenant and God’s mission

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah... - Jeremiah 31:31 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34 When God made His third covenant with Israel on the Plains of Moab, He predicted that, because of their constitutional incorrigibility, they would fail to keep His covenant and be sent into exile. What God had predicted also happened. Yet, God also offered His people hope by promising to one day bring them to repentance by circumcising their hearts and restoring them to the Promised Land. Because divine-human covenants are manifestations of God’s faithfulness to the creational purpose of His mission for His glory that rescues this mission in a time of crisis or uncertainty, God encourages His people in exile with the promise of a new covenant. With this new covenant, God will achieve what He always wanted: a theatre of His mission for His glory made up of human beings who participate in this mission for God’s glory, by making the mutual glorification that takes place in heaven visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! This is what ultimately makes this covenant new. Unlike God’s first three covenants with Israel and His covenant with David, it will not fail to bring about God’s creational goal of His mission for His glory, by continually being broken like God’s first covenant with Israel and subsequent covenants with them. But it will bring this creational goal to fruition because it will ultimately be kept by both God and His people. Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father for His faithfulness to His mission for His glory. Thank Him that the new covenant is a guarantee that one day the blessing of Abraham will have been brought to the nations and God will be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 15 – Jerusalem and God’s mission for His glory

If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne. For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place. - Psalm 132:12-13 Scripture reading: Psalm 132 Yesterday, when we read about God making a covenant with David, promising that there would always be one of his descendants upon his throne, we did not read about any conditions in this covenant. In today’s passage, we do. It states that if David’s sons keep God’s commandments, they and their sons shall always sit on the throne of David. This reminds us that there is no such thing as an unconditional covenant or a conditional covenant, but that all covenants have both aspects. This mixture of unconditional and conditional aspects in God’s covenant with David has to do with the connection between God’s covenant with David and His choice of Zion or Jerusalem as His dwelling place. As God’s covenant with David is meant to give stability to His covenants with Israel, so His choice of Jerusalem as His dwelling place is meant to give stability to His covenant with David. If David and his sons want to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet, they would need to find their source of strength in God’s dwelling in Jerusalem. However, if they failed to do so and consequently failed to keep the conditional aspect of God’s covenant, God would still keep the unconditional aspect of His promise because of His choice of Jerusalem. This is all the more the case because out of Jerusalem, God will make a horn sprout for David and a lamp for His anointed (Psalm 132:17). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for Christ, the horn and lamp of David, Who bore witness to His glorious presence on earth and brought the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 14 – God’s covenant with David and His mission

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. - 2 Samuel 7:16 Scripture reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Yesterday, we saw that Israel’s continued failure to participate in God’s mission for His glory by keeping His covenant and being those people and places where heaven and earth meet, led to the failure of God’s covenants with Israel. We also saw that this, in turn, led to the uncertainty of whether God could still use Israel in His mission for His glory. We saw that when God makes a covenant with His people, He does so to rescue His mission for His glory out of dead-end streets and update it to new situations. We see the same when God makes a covenant with the house of David. After David was anointed king of Israel, brought rest to Israel by defeating her enemies, and brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, he wanted to build a house for the ark. However, God will instead build a house for David by establishing his throne forever (see also Psalm 89 and 132). In making this covenant with David and his descendants, God demonstrates His faithfulness to His mission for His glory by rescuing His bankrupt covenants with Israel and giving stability to these covenants. Perhaps, with a king after His own heart and with worship in the Temple, God can still use Israel as His treasured possession in His mission for His glory, to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that brings the blessing of Abraham to the nations by making God visible on earth, through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that Sunday is a reminder of His faithfulness to His mission for His glory because it is a reminder that He raised Jesus from the dead. Ask Him to make you abide in Christ and bear witness to the resurrection life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 13 – God’s mission and the failure of his covenant with Israel 

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. - 1 Samuel 8:7 Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 8 As God predicted, the failure to keep His covenant, soon became a reality in the Promised Land. Not only did Israel fail to drive out all the Canaanites, their life soon resembled the life of the Canaanites. Repeatedly, we read, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, Who brought them out of Egypt. They went after and bowed down to other gods, from among the gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:11-12). By the end of the book of Judges, Israel became like the nations and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. We see the same failure when Israel demands a king like all the nations. Although when God made His second covenant with Abraham, he promised that kings would come forth from His descendants (Genesis 17:6, 16), Israel demands a king. They reject God as their king. When God grants Saul as Israel’s first king, Saul also rejects God as his king. Because he rejects God as king, God rejects him as king. This constant failure to keep God’s covenant leads to the bankruptcy or failure of God’s covenants with Israel. This, in turn, leads to the uncertainty of whether God can still use Israel in His mission for His glory by bringing the blessing of Abraham to the nations and making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you whether you are serving any other gods in your life. If you are, ask Him for forgiveness and renewal of life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 12 – God’s law and God’s mission

Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life… - Ezekiel 20:25 Scripture reading: Psalm 19:7-14 Yesterday, we saw that God predicted that Israel would fail to keep His third covenant with them because their hearts were not circumcised. Today, we see that Israel would also not be able to keep this third covenant because the commandments He gave them were not good, nor could they give life. Elsewhere in Scripture, we read that God’s commandments are good. For instance, the psalmist writes that the law of God is perfect, pure, and true. He also writes that the law of God revives the soul, makes wise the simple, enlightens the eyes. Consequently, God’s law is to be desired more than gold and is sweeter than honey. God’s law is all of this and more because it shows Israel how to participate in God’s mission for His glory, by bearing witness to the glory of God’s perfect life through living a life of love: love for God and love for one’s neighbour. However, the law does not give the power to keep God’s commandments. In this sense, they are not good and do not give life. Accordingly, Israel’s failure to keep God’s law placed them under the condemnation of the law. Suffering the consequences of their disobedience, clearly laid out in the law, Israel, in exile in Ezekial’s time, reflected on God’s judgement in their lives. This reinforces why God needs to circumcise the people’s hearts so that they can experience the goodness of His law through the obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Praise God about the goodness of His law. Thank Him that Christ has delivered you from the condemnation of the law and that the Holy Spirit enables you to fulfil the requirement of the law as you abide in Christ. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 11 – Circumcision of the heart and God’s mission

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. - Deuteronomy 30:6 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-10 Yesterday, we saw that God made His third covenant with Israel, a new generation committed to participate in God’s mission for His glory. This was to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. However, this new generation is no better because their hearts were just as uncircumcised as those of the previous generation. To participate in God’s mission for His glory, our hearts need to be circumcised. This means that just as physical circumcision removes a piece of flesh from a male’s foreskin, so spiritual circumcision removes the ways of the flesh from our hearts. Because the first generation of Israelites had not done this, most of them were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. When God made His third covenant with Israel, He predicted that they would be just like the first generation. Accordingly, they would not be able to walk in His ways, keep His commandments, and obey His voice and experience the blessings of living in covenant with God. As a result, they would experience the curses of the covenant as well as the ultimate curse of exile from the Promised Land. Yet, precisely because God is faithful to the drama of His mission for His glory, He offers His people hope by promising to come to the rescue of His mission for His glory and one day bring His people Israel to repentance by circumcising their hearts and restoring them to the Promised Land. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father what you may need to be circumcised in your heart if it is hindering you from walking in His ways, keeping His commandments, listening to His voice and thus participating in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 10 – God’s third covenant with Israel and His mission

These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb. - Deuteronomy 29:1 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-29 After 40 years in the desert, a new generation of the people of Israel is standing on the threshold of the Promised Land. However, this new generation is no better than the previous one. Both had rebelled against the Holy Spirit (Psalm 106:33), grieved the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10-14), and resisted the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). This leads to the uncertainty of whether God can still use this new generation in His mission for His glory. Moreover, in addition to having Joshua lead them instead of Moses, the situation of the new generation in the Promised Land will be a different one than their situation in the desert. In order to deal with this uncertainty and new situation, God once again demonstrates His faithfulness to His mission for His glory and comes to the rescue of this mission by making a third covenant with Israel on the Plains of Moab. With this covenant, as He had done to Abraham (Genesis 17:7), God commits to be Israel’s God, that Israel would be His treasured possession whom He would set above the other nations, and Israel would be His holy people. With this covenant, Israel commits to walk in God’s ways, keep His commandments, and obey His voice. In doing so, Israel commits to participate in God’s mission for His glory and bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He is your God, the God of your congregation and that His Spirit enables you to commit to walk in His ways, keep His commandments and obey His voice. Ask Him to strengthen your commitment. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 9 – Obedience of faith and God’s mission

You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord. - Leviticus 18:5 Scripture reading: Leviticus 26:1-13 Participating in God’s mission for His glory is a participation in faith that leads to the obedience of faith. This was the case with the first participants, Adam and Eve. If they entrusted themselves to God and lived in communion with Him, being receptive to His voice, open to His provision and available to His leading, they would continue to enjoy the blessed life God had given them; if not they would die (Genesis 2:17-18). This is also the case for Israel. If she entrusted herself to God and lived in communion with Him, being receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading, she would live and enjoy the blessings of a secure and healthy life in the Promised Land. In the light of the New Testament, we can say that they would also inherit eternal life. To understand this dynamic of faith, it is helpful to realize that the contrast in Scripture is not between faith and works, but between faith and no faith. Those who have faith are expected, by God’s grace and Spirit, to manifest their faith in the obedience of faith. In the light of the New Testament, we can say that those who are grafted into Christ, by faith, will naturally produce the obedience of faith through the working of the Holy Spirit. Thus, there are not two opposing ways to life, one through faith and the other through works, but only one way: the way of faith that leads to the obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to be receptive to His voice, open to His provision, and available to His leading so that you are able to participate in His mission for His glory through the obedience of faith. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 8 – The Sabbath and God’s mission for His glory (2)

Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death - Exodus 35:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 35:1-3 Yesterday, we saw that before Israel’s violation of God’s first covenant with them by worshipping a golden calf, Moses records that God made the Sabbath day a sign of His covenant with His people Israel. Every Sabbath day was meant to remind them that the reason for their existence was that they were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! If they did not do this, they essentially had no reason to exist. Today, we see that immediately after Israel’s violation of God’s first covenant with them by worshipping a golden calf, God made His second covenant with Israel, because He had compassion on them and forgave them their sin, Moses again records the command to keep the Sabbath day. In other words, Moses frames Israel’s breaking of God’s first covenant and the making of the second covenant with the Sabbath as a sign of God’s covenant. This shows us that the Sabbath was not only a weekly reminder for Israel that they were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory, by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. It was also a guarantee that God would one day reach this goal because, even though this mission had almost been destroyed because of Israel’s sin, it was steadily proceeding to the eternal Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that Sunday reminds you that you have been chosen to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making Him visible through being a person where heaven and earth meet, but also that it is a guarantee that He will one day be all in all. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 7 – The Sabbath and God’s mission for His glory (1)

It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. - Exodus 31:17 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 31:12-17 In Genesis 2, we read about God resting on the seventh day. This means that God rests from His work of creating, but also that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Everything He made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory. This creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days, we read that there was an evening and a morning, however, not with the seventh day. This does not mean that it did not have an evening and a morning, but by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s creation was meant to last forever and be elevated into the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God about which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9). It should not surprise us that God made the Sabbath a sign of His covenant with His people Israel. He had chosen them to be His treasured possession, meant to function as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Consequently, every Sabbath was to remind them of the reason for their existence. They were called to participate in God’s mission for His glory by making God visible on earth through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to help you make this Sunday fruitful by reminding you of why you belong to His chosen people. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....