Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Browse thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news,and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians delivered direct to your inbox!


Most Recent



The Rest


Daily devotional

July 27 – Sojourners are not surprised by suffering

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. – 1 Peter 4:12 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19 Amid the current struggles, do you ever think, “I thought being a Christian was going to be easier?” Have we been so spoiled by prosperity and comfort that we are caught completely off-guard when difficulties come our way? Peter says we should not be surprised. When we experience suffering as Christians, our inclination may be to lash out in anger, or languish in despair. Perhaps we may become bitter and begin to see the world and its leaders as the enemy. Rather than react, Peter says we should rejoice that we share in Christ’s sufferings. If we are ridiculed for Christ, we are blessed. Not cursed. Blessed. These are fiery trials, but you share in Christ’s suffering. You are not being asked to atone for your sins. Christ bore our sins in His suffering (1 Peter 2:24). He suffered to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). We suffer with Christ because we identify with Him. Therefore, we will be like Him and be willing to suffer for Him. But we are not alone in these trials. He is with us. The trials are sent by the loving Master Refiner Who knows what He is doing. As with Daniel’s three friends, Christ is with you in the furnace of affliction (Daniel 3:25). Be sure not to suffer as an evildoer. Do not be afraid to suffer as a Christian. Jesus has got this. If you suffer for doing the will of God, do not be ashamed, rest confidently in Him, He is your faithful and loving Lord. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the finished work of Jesus. If you are suffering, rejoice in the privilege that you may do so with and for Christ. Ask God to help you not to be so comfortable that you are caught off-guard by suffering. Pray that you may suffer well that God will be seen to be glorious. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 26 – Sojourner hospitality

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 Hospitality ought to set us apart as Christians. It takes work and will put us on the stretch. That is why Peter has to urge that it be done, “without grumbling.” How discouraging it would be to be a guest at someone’s home and get the sense that they really wished they didn’t have to take time for you. They sense that, “I have more important things to do, but since you’re here anyway, here’s a sandwich.” We need to remember, as aliens and strangers, that we are living in exile. We are homeless outsiders who have found our true home in the household of God, and out of gratitude, we want others to know that blessing. The word Peter uses for hospitality here is literally “the love of the stranger.” Do not forget that by nature you too were once a stranger to God’s covenants of promise. That is why it can be said that the pattern of hospitality in our lives expresses the heart of the gospel. Putting ourselves on the stretch in love will mean we seek to find ways to open our homes to one another, but also to those who are still strangers to God’s covenants of promise. We break bread together, open the Word together, pray together and have fun together. We are showing what grace-based, Christ-centered fellowship is. We have received much from God. By the grace of God, when everyone seeks to use what they have been given to minister to others the blessing is rich, and God gets all the glory. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that you have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Pray for a spirit of rich gratitude in order that you may use what you have been given for the love of others, even those who are strangers to God’s covenants of promise. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 25 – Sojourners’ love covers a multitude of sins

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 For the Christian, love must take priority. As he continues to encourage sojourners in their care for one another, Peter writes, “Above all things, have fervent love for one another.” When he speaks about fervency here, he is speaking about its intensity in action. Think of a horse stretching towards the finish line. What is envisioned is, love that puts us on the stretch for one another, a willingness to put ourselves out for one another. Think of the lengths to which Jesus has put Himself on the stretch when He gave Himself for us on the cross. One of the most challenging ways we are put on the stretch is in the demand that our love should cover a multitude of sins. Peter is not talking about a cover-up as such that sins are never dealt with. It is something far more glorious. Its roots are in the blessing that by God’s grace, through repentance and faith, our sins have been atoned for (covered) by the precious blood of Jesus. When we know the blessing of Jesus’ covering, then out of love, we also want others to know it. Sometimes that will put us on the stretch because some sins against us hurt very, very much. We must remind ourselves of the blessing of our own covering. A body of fervent loving sojourners is not a place for fault-finding, where people delight in uncovering pesky details of each other’s struggle with sin. Fervent love means our greatest joy is to see sin covered by the blood of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the blessing and privilege of worship where you could be assured again of the blessing of sins covered. Pray that you may be put on the stretch in loving action toward others. Pray for God’s grace to be a cover-er of sins, pointing to Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 24 – Sojourners are serious about prayer

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. – 1 Peter 4:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7-11 Are you serious about prayer? Many of us struggle with the reality that our prayer life is not what it ought to be. The concern is not that we should be more eloquent, or more disciplined and have a routine. We want to be serious and watchful! Peter must have been reflecting on his own failings at prayer. Jesus agonized in prayer, then three times found his three closest disciples sleeping. How could he forget Jesus’ disappointment, “Simon (Peter) are you sleeping?” (Mark 14:37). Jesus was so agonized in prayer that He sweated drops of blood. Peter, James, and John could not even take it seriously enough to stay awake. Thanks be to God; Jesus has gone to the cross! Now we can come boldly to the throne of grace. We have a new eagerness and urgency. The end of all things is at hand! All God’s glorious purposes are coming to wonderful fulfillment! We are living in days that require serious attention to prayer. Being serious and watchful in our prayers means we are wide awake to the needs in our day. We know we do not have the strength to be the people God calls us to be apart from His blessing. Like Jacob, we need to wrestle with God to hold Him to account for all that He has promised. We need to be alert and awake to the challenges of our day, to be serious about the needs of God’s people and have a passion for God’s glory – the end of all things! Suggestions for prayer What are the things you are watchful about, and what are the things you need to be more watchful about? Pray about them. Ask God to give you a spirit of prayer and supplication as you rejoice to know the end of all things is at hand. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 23 – Sojourners are ready to do God’s will

...that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:2 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:1-6 When we think about what Christ has suffered for us, we find a new eagerness to say, “I am done with sin!” By nature, we were soft on sin. In our selfishness, we were committed to a life of ease and sinful, selfish pleasure. It was easy to slip into ways of living that were not good. But it was never helpful. It has not been God-glorifying and it has not been good for us. We want to say, with Peter: “Enough!” We need to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. It was always Christ’s commitment to do the will of His Father. We must arm ourselves with Jesus’ mindset. That will take effort and resolve, but because of Christ’s glorious work, it becomes something we want to do, and by God’s grace, are able to do. It will also mean there will be those who think you are weird, and who will wonder, “Hey, why don’t you run with us in these wicked ways like you used to?” It will not be easy. Arming yourself with the mind of Christ means you will think of what you have received in Christ and think of who you have become, in Christ. Judgment is coming. Knowing this puts a different perspective on our lives and those who may taunt us. Those who taunt us are in danger. There should be no joy and no pride over them. That is why the gospel is preached! They need the gospel just like you did, and they need to hear it from you. Suggestions for prayer Ask yourself, have I had enough of sin? Ask God to arm you with the mind of Christ, with joy in what He has suffered for you, and with a readiness to do His will. Pray for grace to speak gracious gospel words to those who think it strange of you. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 22 – Sojourners hope in their baptism

There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 3:21  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22 The great, worldwide flood of Noah’s day was one of the most momentous events in history. In our passage, Peter also makes reference to the Great Flood and says it is a picture of what is promised to us in our baptism. Your baptism is that momentous. Just as believing Noah and his family were saved through water, your baptism now saves you. Amid all the challenges we face as sojourners in this world, it is a wonderful blessing to be able to answer the question, “How do I know I am a Christian?” In the same way the Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin would have answered it: “I have been baptized!” We know of course that salvation is not the result of a ceremony. We know people can presumptuously rest in their baptism without resting in Jesus, by faith. Baptized people who remain unrepentant will drown in the waters of their baptism. It is not the ceremony, not the water, not the physical washing of dirt from the body. It is the answer of a good conscience; the realization that the answer is Jesus. Our appeal is to Jesus. In Jesus and by His resurrection we know the blessing of all that is promised us in baptism. There is something deeply comforting for us in all our struggles, and over against all our failings, to be able to say that my hope is not my righteousness, or in my efforts, but in the promises of God, signified and sealed to me in my baptism. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your baptism. Use your baptism and take hold of everything God has promised to you and your children by it, taking hold of Jesus. Appeal to God for a good conscience, leading to blessed assurance and a consistent life. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 21 – Sojourners are always ready to speak of hope

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. – 1 Peter 3:15 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:13-17 People who seem to have an answer for everything can be a bit annoying. Peter also encourages us always to be ready with an answer, but this answer is: hope in Jesus. It is not annoying, but precious. It is not obnoxious, but comes with grace, meekness and fear, gentleness and respect. We recognize that our day is much like Peter’s day. We should expect that standing with Jesus will bring us into some difficulty. He asks – who is going to harm you for following what is good. And the ultimate answer is, no one! But sometimes you will still suffer. Don’t be surprised. Don’t fear what the rest of the world fears. Here is the secret: Jesus is your Lord! He is Lord of your life, Lord of history and Lord of your present circumstances. He is your hope! Our confidence is not only that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), but that we know Jesus is with us (Matthew 28:20). Then we cannot help but speak of this glorious hope. So now we seek to lead “questionable” lives. That is, we seek to live in such a Christ-like way that it raises questions and people ask, “What is it with you?!” And we may answer, “It’s not me, it’s Jesus; it’s the hope I have, in Jesus.” Our goal must never be to taunt unbelievers with pride or smugness. Our gracious gentleness and respect will come from the deep realization that we have this hope only by God’s amazing grace. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to live in the fear of God and not in the fear of man. Ask Him to help you to lead a gracious, godly life that provokes questions and to make you ready to speak of your hope in Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 20 – Sojourners love life and see good days

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:8,9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:8-12 Some of you may have been thinking that since you are not a wife, a husband, a servant, or an employee, that none of what Peter writes applies to you. But here Peter brings it all home. “Finally,” he says, this call to loving, compassionate, Christ-like surrender and service of one another, applies to all of you. Peter calls us to love one another as brothers. This call to compassion and tender-heartedness is a beautiful description of the church of God. It also remains for us exiles the most effective cultural strategy there could be. They will know we are Christians by our love. When we are sinned against, or when we are reviled, because of what Christ has done for us, we may follow His example of not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling. That is never easy. It may cost us, but never more than what we have been given in the gospel. By God’s grace, we seek to be at peace, to overcome evil with good and put up with ridicule. Because we know the hope of our calling, we have the certainty of our inheritance. That is why, even in trying circumstances, we can say, “We love life! These are good days!” That’s astounding if you think about it. But we have been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus! Peter also gives us this assurance from Psalm 34: The eyes of the Lord are fixed upon us; His ears are attentive to our cries. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to increase your love for one another in the church. Thank God that by grace we may love life and see good days. Thank Him for His loving, watchful care. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 19 – Sojourner men understand their wives

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-7 Men sometimes joke about the fact that they cannot understand the ways of the woman God gave them. According to God’s challenge in this verse, however, that is unacceptable. We are literally called to know our wives well. That means a depth of love and intimacy. It means a husband should take the time to know his wife’s thoughts, concerns, fears, what she loves and what she delights in. He should know her vulnerabilities and weaknesses, her hopes and dreams, and her day-to-day frustrations, the challenges of the world, and the promises of God’s Word. He should spend much time with her talking about these things, reflecting and praying together. He will also honour her as the “weaker vessel.” This is not a put-down. It does not mean she is less than him. Think about a precious vase, beautiful, delicate and significant. This preciousness of his wife must never be abused or taken advantage of. Rather, he honours her for it. He knows she is precious in God’s sight. He knows she is precious to him. He needs her. No Christian husband and wife would ever presume they could know any of this blessing without a life of fervent prayer. The challenge is that as we often fail in our relationships, our prayers can be hindered. We feel guilty and lose the passion for prayer. Please don’t get stuck there. Confess your sins to one another and to God. You will receive mercy and your prayers will be helped. We are heirs together of the grace of life! Suggestions for prayer Is there anything in your relationships that hinders your prayers? Talk about it and pray about it. Confess your failings and draw near to God. If you are married, do it together. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 18 – Sojourner wives are precious to God

...rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. – 1 Peter 3:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-6 The traditional, Biblical understanding of marriage between one man and one woman is considered odd today. But by God’s grace, a joyful obedient understanding of Christian marriage remains a significant part of our witness to the world. When it comes to sojourner wives, Peter speaks encouragingly here of submission. It is a concept that has fallen out of favor today, but Peter speaks of it as a glorious opportunity for Christian women to be Christ-like. It is also something they are enabled to do, in Christ. There is no hint at all that women are inferior to men. Men and women have both been created in God’s image. Also, in our redemption in Christ, we are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Peter is not condoning any sort of harshness or abuse. Neither is he recommending marriage of Christians to unbelievers; God clearly forbids that. Peter addresses a situation where marriage has already taken place, then perhaps only the wife was converted after the marriage. God can use her quiet confidence in Him and gracious, respectful conduct toward her husband for his conversion! In the gospel, her joyful reverence for God takes away any sense of inferiority. She fears God, not her husband. She is concerned for God’s honor, not about what people think. Though God is not opposed to physical beauty, she does not make that her focus. She would rather turn hearts to Jesus than turn heads toward herself. By God’s grace in Christ, she knows she is precious in God’s sight. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on the gospel preached throughout the world today. Pray for our marriages. Pray that because of the gospel, our marriages may give clear testimony to the world of how precious we are in the sight of God, by His grace. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 17 – Sojourners follow in Jesus’ steps

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25 Have you seen a little child trying to follow a parent at the beach, wanting to place his feet in each of the footprints? Sometimes it can be quite a stretch! That is a picture of what Peter says is the calling of sojourners: to trace the steps of Jesus Himself. Talk about big shoes to fill! Jesus is, of course, more than our example, He is our Saviour! Praise the Lord! But in accomplishing our salvation, He has also left us an example. And, because of His suffering, it is an example we can actually follow. By His death and resurrection, Jesus enables us to die to sin and to live for righteousness. He enables us to stretch and to commit ourselves to the service of God. So, even when others may make fun of us for living the Christian life, like Jesus, when we are reviled, we will not revile in return. We were weak and straying sheep, but by God’s grace we have returned to Jesus. If anyone knew how huge a blessing it was to be returning to Jesus, surely it was Peter (Luke 22:32). We too may live in the bold confidence that this loving Saviour has become the tender shepherd of our souls. Nothing will snatch us from His hands. He goes before us and with us as He leads the way. It makes you want to be like Him in the way you face challenges. It makes you want to stretch and take big steps for Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for what He did for you on the cross. Thank Him for being with you and leading you in paths of righteousness. Ask Him to help you take big steps forward as you seek to follow in His steps. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 16 – Sojourners endure hard things

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully… But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. – 1 Peter 2:19, 20b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:18-21 Many whom Peter addressed were slaves. Without approving slavery as a way of life, Peter seeks to equip his readers to live as Christians where they are. Most of us can relate to the challenge of having to experience hard things – in life generally, or specifically in our work. It is not that we should never work for change, but how do we respond with endurance when hard things happen? The sojourner should never take the approach – “I give as good as I get.” The sojourner is mindful of God. He learns to ask: Where is God in this? What does God say? How will God help? It would be understandable if you were having a hard time at work because you were lazy, or mouthy, always late for work, or known for doing shoddy work. See to it that doesn’t happen. Since you know God and His grace, when you mess up, own up to your failings. But how can you persist in doing good when you are doing your best and still receiving a hard time? Prayerfully seek to live conscious of the presence of God. Think about Jesus, what He endured for you on the cross. Remind yourself that He has redeemed you, you are His! As you respond, ask God to help you follow in Jesus’ steps. Do it for the Lord. Trust that He will help you through this. God sees and cares. He will teach you about your need for Jesus and His grace, and He will help you. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you endure hardship, to carry out your work, and to live your whole life mindful of Him. Thank God for what Jesus has done for you on the cross. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 15 – Sojourners are free to serve

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. – 1 Peter 2:15,16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:13-17 Peter continues to flesh out the importance of doing good before a watching world. Do it as those who are free! By God’s grace, we are free from having to earn our salvation, free from guilt, and from the ruling power of sin in our lives. We are free from worrying about what other people think, or what the world is going to do to us. We are free from being selfishly concerned about ourselves. We are free from being enslaved to the lie that we are going to have our best life now. We are free to live and love. But, we are not free to live as we please nor sin. We are free to serve. Do not live as those who have no time for the world around them. Do not think yourself above the laws of the land: love your city, your region and your country. Submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. Obey the speed limit, pay your taxes, be a model citizen, seek to be a blessing to your neighbor – for the Lord’s sake. That means you honor God when you honor people and when you submit to the government in all things lawful. It means when you know you are being asked to do something God forbids, you are free and required to stand with God. But remember that it also means that your humble, grace-filled posture can be used by God for the silence and salvation of those who still need to know Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for all the ways you are free in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to help you to use your freedom to be a servant, to live as a good citizen for the silencing and salvation of unbelievers. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 14 – Sojourners abstain from fleshly lusts

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. – 1 Peter 2:11 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:9-12 Peter has just reminded and encouraged his readers in the fact that they are chosen and precious to God. Beloved, he calls us. We are deeply loved. But that does not mean that the sojourning life is always going to be easy. In the life of the sojourner, we should expect serious challenge and opposition. Peter becomes very urgent here, I beg you, he says, to abstain from fleshly lusts. Stay entirely away from sinful desires. Any of us who know ourselves will know that the warning Peter gives is serious, urgent and necessary. Should we ever think that we have gotten beyond the need for this kind of challenge, we would be deceiving ourselves. Sinful desires must not be given an inch in our lives. They war against our souls! When we flirt or dabble with sin, and become more comfortable with unconfessed sin, our souls are in danger of being numbed and destroyed. I beg you, Peter says, take this seriously. Remember, you are sojourners. Remember who you are and where you are headed. Remember your purpose, to proclaim God’s praises in everything you do! It is not going to be easy. You can expect people may even begin to call your desire for obedience, evil. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be haughty. Don’t give up. Seek to do good. Keep proclaiming His praises. Be encouraged. It could very well be that God uses what others see and hear from you, to bring those people to glorify God too! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you deal honestly with sinful desires in your life. Ask Him for persevering grace to live godly lives and to speak well of God even to those who may be speaking evil of you. Praise God that He will use even our witness to let the nations praise Him! Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 13 – Sojourners are God’s own special people

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10 You are special! And don’t you ever forget it. Have you ever been encouraged by being told you are special? How about knowing that is what God thinks about you? Building on rich Old Testament language from when God called His old covenant people into existence (Exodus 19:5,6), Peter is saying all those things about believers! You are a holy nation, a royal priesthood. You are God’s own special people. You are chosen and precious! It’s not flattery; it’s not empty talk. It’s not just saying something to make you feel good, like the kind of meaningless gestures we see today when everyone gets a ribbon at the race. This is who you are, in Christ, the chosen and precious One! And it’s all by grace. By the same powerful Word by which the Lord spoke and called light into existence from nothing, He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The life we come to know in Christ is just as powerful, amazing and miraculous. Remember where we came from. Once we were not a people, now we are the people of God. Once we had not known mercy and now God has shown us mercy! We brought nothing to the table, yet this is what God has done for us, His own special people. Don’t ever forget it! Doesn’t that make you want to shout His praises! In fact, as these verses tell us, that is exactly what it’s all about. That is our great task and privilege now as sojourners – proclaim His praises! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for calling you out of darkness. Ask God to help you always remember that in Christ you are chosen and precious. Ask Him to help you to shout His praises so others can know this blessing too. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 12 – Sojourners are built up as living stones

...you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:5 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-8 We have been hearing wonderful things about Jesus the living stone, chosen and precious. He is the rock of our salvation, but He is not a dead, inanimate object. He is a living stone, the resurrected Saviour. The blessing we get to consider now is that, as we come to Christ and find our life in union with Him, all of the things that are said about Jesus can also be said of us. In Christ, we are also chosen and precious to God. In Christ, we are also being built up as living stones. We who once had hearts of stone are made alive together with Christ! Christ, the master church builder is at work, building us into a living, thriving, spiritual house. Peter is not talking about the church in terms of bricks and mortar, but as a people, an exciting and dynamic building project of mutual love and devotion. Do you see the church that way? Thank God if you were encouraged in this hope in worship yesterday. Christ is building you up in your faith, building us up together and doing this in us and with us so that we too may be involved in the work of building. Through Jesus, we can now offer spiritual sacrifices. He offered the once-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sins, but now, through Him we can offer ourselves in sacrificial service, as living stones, for the building of His spiritual house. How are you involved in Christ’s church building work? Are you a living, active member of His church? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for how He uses the church to build you up in your faith. Ask Him to help you be a living, active, sacrificial builder of the church. Bring Him the sacrifice of praise! Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 11 – Sojourners come to Jesus

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious. – 1 Peter 2:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-8 As sojourners, we understand we are nothing apart from Jesus Christ. We need Him; we come to Him for life and hope. We want to walk with Him because to know Him is more precious than anything else in the world. Rejoice in Him as you go to Him in worship, today. We have learned that in coming to Christ, we find rest for our sin-burdened souls (Matthew 11:28), we find sustenance for our hungry and thirsty souls (John 6:35) and we can live in the hope-filled confidence that we will be raised up with Jesus on the last day (John 6:44). Have you come to Christ? Have you found the forgiveness, life and hope you need, in Him? Be encouraged; Jesus has promised that all who come to Him, He shall by no means cast out (John 6:37). He who has the Son, has life, he who does not have the Son, does not have life (1 John 5:12). Coming to Christ is more than a one-time event; it is an ongoing privilege and need. We get to keep coming to Christ. What do you do in your ongoing struggle with sin? You come to Christ! In the difficulties and perplexities of life? You come to Christ! When you are painfully aware that you are too weak to stand up and take on the challenges of the life of a sojourner? You keep coming to Christ! You will find in Him a resting place and He will make you glad! Suggestions for prayer Come to the Father through the Son in your prayers and in worship today. Go to Jesus with your sin and struggles and with your desire to serve Him. As you keep coming to Him, ask that you may know Him to be more and more precious. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 10 – Sojourners desire the pure milk of the Word

...as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. – 1 Peter 2:2 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-3 We have seen how the beginning of our spiritual lives comes by the Word, through the gospel preached to us. If we want to grow in that life, that is also something God works by His living and abiding Word. Have you ever seen a baby who is desperately hungry for its mother’s milk? Babies can get very passionate about this desire! And that is the picture Peter gives here of our need as sojourners. Amid the battles and challenges of life, where sometimes the biggest enemy is our own sinful flesh, sojourners hunger with the passion of newborn babies for the pure milk of the Word. Do not be like some people who misapply Peter’s emphasis. The point here is not that there is something praiseworthy about remaining immature as a Christian, only wanting milk and not solid food. That’s embarrassing! (Compare to Hebrews 5:12). We are not being encouraged here to remain as weak and helpless babies in our Christian walk. Sojourners want to grow! And sojourners want to get rid of sin in their lives: all hatred, lies, superficiality, and sinful talk. If we know ourselves well, we will know these are demanding tasks that work up an appetite. So, we hungrily crave more and more of God’s Word. And, in the Word, as our hungry souls are refreshed in looking to Jesus, we taste again and again that the Lord is gracious. It tastes like more! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a passionate hunger and thirst for His Word and for the grace we taste, in Jesus. Pray for the passion of a newborn babe, as well as the growing maturity of one who cannot get over the blessing of God’s grace in Jesus. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 9 – Sojourners are born of the Word

...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. – 1 Peter 1:23 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:22-25 Peter continues to unpack for us, sojourners, some details of what the call to holiness entails. Sojourners obey the truth. By the work of God’s gracious Spirit, we take hold of the truth and want to live according to it. Peter says this comes to expression in our loving one another fervently with a pure heart. The reason we want to do this and the reason we can, is because we have been born again. That means the seed of life that has been implanted by God’s Spirit through the gospel is incorruptible, or imperishable. It cannot and will not die. We’ve probably all planted seeds and been disappointed when they proved useless, dead, or rotten and never germinated. Not so with the life God gives through the gospel. We didn’t give life to ourselves when we were born the first time. We don’t give life to ourselves when we are born the second time, either. It is life that comes from above and it will never die. The seed God brings to life in you has been planted and is being watered by the living Word. He has done that through the preaching of the gospel. If you have taken hold of the gospel, believed the good news, obeyed the truth through the Spirit and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul, you can be encouraged in your call to holiness and love. God has given you life. You have the life that you need. By God’s grace, you have what it takes. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the new life He gives through the gospel. Thank God for the gospel that is preached to you. Pray that those who do not have this life may also know this blessing. Pray that it will show in fervent love for others. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Sojourners know Jesus’ blood is precious

… with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. – 1 Peter 1:18,19 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21 Peter urges that throughout the time of our sojourn on earth, we should live in fear. That must not be misunderstood. He is not suggesting we need to live in dread, terror of God, or in a panic about what’s going to happen next. He has assured us that, as sojourners, we can live in joyful hope! The fear of God he is talking about is better understood as a reverent sense of awe. Too often, we forget. The awe is lacking and it shows in aimless living. So, how can we maintain reverent awe? Peter says it comes from a continual sense of grateful amazement about what our Saviour has done for us in shedding His precious blood. Say you receive two chocolate cakes. One, casually picked up at the store, no big deal; the other, equally as delicious, from your young child who put everything into making it. Which is more precious? Our salvation cost Jesus everything. He gave His lifeblood. As a lamb without blemish or spot, He was perfectly suited to be the Saviour of sinners! This was not something we could ever have earned, or bought, even with all the gold or silver in the world; it was obtained for us at the infinite cost of the blood of the Son of God. He loved you and gave Himself up for you! Never get over this! Always remember and be amazed! By His precious blood, He has saved us from sin’s guilt and power. Sojourners who are amazed by His grace will never be aimless. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus! Ask Him to help you to know this blessing with a sense of awe, always. Thank God for redeeming you from aimlessness and ask Him to help you live for Him with purpose and reverent awe. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 7 – Sojourners’ hope leads to holiness

...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15,16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13-16 After assuring us with the riches of the blessed hope that is ours as sojourners by God’s grace to us, in Jesus, Peter arrives at the inevitable call to holiness: Be holy, because God is holy. So, be like God. Not so easy, right? The bare command leads either to despair in the defeated recognition, “I can’t!” Or, it leads to arrogant, self-confident Pharisaical pride that says, “Of course, look at me!” But, as a bare command, this call to holiness actually is unattainable for us. Thanks be to God, it never comes to us in Scripture in that way. In the Bible, the call to holiness always comes in the context of hope. Hope leads to holiness. As sojourners set apart from sin and devoted to God, we want to be holy as God is holy. But we have probably learned the hard way that holiness is not attained by our seeking to do more and trying harder. Peter encourages us that it comes by setting our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do you want to be holy? Remind yourself of the grace God has shown you in Christ. Rest in that. Take your stand again in that. Then you can be forward-looking in hope. You know there will always be more grace. It’s that hope that gives us an eagerness, willingness and the ability to want to be like God. Pray it will show in grace-filled, hopeful lives that set you apart. Suggestions for prayer Reflect on whether the call to holiness causes you to despair, or to boast. Ask for God’s grace to overcome both. Thank God for the holiness that is ours in the Holy One (1 Corinthians 1:30). Pray for growth in hope-filled holiness and pray that it will be seen. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 6 – News so good, even angels can’t get enough

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you… things which angels desire to look into. – 1 Peter 1:10,12b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:10-12 Have you ever been so excited about good news that you were sitting on the edge of your seat? Well, the good news of our salvation is something that has the angels on the edge of their seats. They can’t get enough of it. The angels have always been enthusiastic cheerleaders of God’s great work. When they witnessed God’s speaking the physical world into existence at Creation, they sang for joy! (Job 38:7). When Jesus was born, the heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:14). At Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, they sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Revelation 5:12). When one sinner comes to repentance, they rejoice with God in heaven (Luke 15:7,10). It is like they are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens next. Prophets in the past received a faint outline of what was to come. By God’s grace and by His Spirit, we have come to see the suffering and glory of Jesus in its full accomplishment! It’s like the difference between receiving a message by Morse code and seeing something in technicolour on an ultra-HD TV; only what we have come to know in Christ is even far, far more glorious. Jesus did suffer. He completed His atoning work. He is glorified! Now, by God’s Word and Spirit, we know that this hope of glory is ours. If even the angels can’t get enough of this, shouldn’t we also desire to look into this blessing more? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the finished Word and work of Christ. Thank Him for the work of the Spirit in helping us to see and know the hope that is ours because of the suffering and glory of Jesus. Pray for a desire to know and appreciate this blessing more. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 5 – Sojourners love Jesus

, Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. – 1 Peter 1:8 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:6-9 Sometimes trials are all we see. We don’t see Jesus, only hardship. That is where faith comes in. What can keep sojourners going amidst trials? Only the love and presence of Jesus! When Peter denied Jesus three times, he failed the test. Then, Jesus catches his eye with a look of love (Luke 22:61) and Peter weeps bitterly. But Jesus had prayed for Peter, died for him, rose again and pursued him in love. Jesus asked him the simple question – do you love me? By God’s grace Peter could respond, “Lord, you know all things, you know I love you!” (John 21:17). Peter was graciously restored in the love of Jesus. Peter was an eyewitness of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16), but we have not seen Him. Maybe you think that makes it harder for us, but remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe” (John 20:29). By God’s grace we are blessed to say, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), He loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20). We love Him because we know He is with us in the furnace of affliction (Daniel 3:25). We love Him because we know nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). We love Him because the salvation of our souls is certain! So, though trials may be all we see, we can “rejoice with joy inexpressible.” We can’t even find words to express our joy. We love you, Jesus! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His love to you in Jesus. Speak to God of your love for Jesus for Who He is and what He has done. Ask Him for help to show your love for Him to all around you. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 4 – The sojourners’ fiery trials

...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:6-9 Sojourners have reason to rejoice in every circumstance because of the living hope we have been given. That does not mean there will not be trials, however. In fact, trials should be expected. And fiery trials can sometimes be very grievous and difficult. “Lord, what are you doing?” We may ask. Some of our trials seem to last forever. But as sojourners of hope, who know where we are going, we know that compared with our eternal future, trials are only “for a little while.” They will come to an end. God, Who is faithful to His promises, will bring us through. The inspired words “if need be,” also remind us that all our trials are in the hands of our gracious God, the Master Refiner. They only, ever come to us in His sovereign and loving care. We may even learn to look back and say with humble gratitude, “I needed that!” That may not be easy to appreciate when you are in the fire. Take heart, though. A refiner of gold, who knows what he is doing, never leaves the fire when gold is being refined. He knows the gold is purified when He can see his face in it. In His refining fire, our gracious God always has a good and loving purpose in view. He wants us to be more like Jesus. Praise God, He is at work in all our trials so we may know Him, love Him, be like Him and serve Him better! We shall come forth as gold! (Job 23:10). Suggestions for prayer Reflect on trials God has brought into your life in His refiner’s fire. Thank Him for what you have learned and seek His face for further refining. Thank God for corporate worship and how He uses it to refine your faith. Pray for those near you and around the world who are experiencing trials that they may come forth as gold. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 3 – The sojourners’ imperishable inheritance

...to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. – 1 Peter 1:4 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:3-7 One of the great joys of a sojourner is knowing we are “going somewhere.” Despite times of spinning our wheels, we know we have a glorious future to look forward to. It gives meaning and purpose. We’ve all broken things, made things dirty, and have watched things we love dearly, rust away into uselessness. Our inheritance, our hope of blessed and eternal fellowship with God, is not like that. It will never perish or fade away. We cannot break it or defile it. Maybe amid the struggles you face in this world, you live in fear that you have defiled or broken your inheritance by your sins, like when you were a child you sometimes forfeited your allowance by your misdeeds. Can our living hope just fade away? Could you one day arrive in God’s presence only to be told, “I am sorry, I do not see a reservation?” By God’s grace, through faith, you may be encouraged to know your inheritance will not fade away. Sojourners who acknowledge their sin and turn to God, can be assured of two things. First, God keeps your inheritance, your place is reserved. Second, God keeps you and prepares you for your inheritance. An inheritance is something graciously given, not earned. Again, it’s all grace. God is eager and ready to reveal this blessing in the days to come. He makes you eager and ready to receive it and enjoy it. Having that hope makes us eager and ready to live for Him today! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for preserving your inheritance for you and for preserving you for your inheritance. Confess ways we might tend to defile this blessing. Ask Him to make you eager and ready to live for Him today in the hope of your certain future. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

July 2 – The sojourners’ living hope

has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3b Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-4 When people say, “I hope so,” they are typically speaking of a faint hope, or something not certain at all. But Christian hope, the hope of sojourners, is not like that. Though we do not yet see and touch everything we hope for in Christ, we have the blessing as a sure and certain hope. It is a living hope. We can think of situations where people’s hopes have died. Dead hope is not hope. It is terribly sad. A lot of people are going nowhere. And we need to pray that we may be deeply sympathetic to the hopelessness that surrounds us. As sojourners, we have been given a living hope. It is a vibrant, thriving, lasting and certain hope. It is living because it comes from the living, thriving, loving, Blessed Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is so happy to be God, so thrilled to give life. He delights to pour out His abundant mercy. He gives life to our dead souls! We who were dead in sins and trespasses, without hope and without God in the world, have been born again and given new life and a living hope. This blessing is sure and lasting because it is ours through the life of our resurrected Saviour, Jesus. It is because He lives that we come to share in the blessing and certainty of His life. Remember, that in a world of darkness and hopelessness, we have been given a living hope. It is ours to enjoy and to share! Suggestions for prayer Is your hope alive? Ask God to give you great joy in the hope we have in Christ and to make us beacons of hope amidst the darkness. Pray earnestly for someone you know who is struggling with hopelessness, that you may encourage them in living hope. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to July – Hope for sojourners in exile

When you think about your life in this world, do you ever feel like a fish out of water, or that you stand out like a sore thumb? Are you ever surprised by the fiery trials the Lord chooses to bring your way? Do you get overwhelmed with how it seems that more and more the world looks at us and thinks we Christians are strange? Are you ever shocked by how the world wonders why we just cannot go along with the flood of sinful changes that are drowning our culture today? Do you feel as though we are entering into a new era of exile? But do you desire with all your heart to stand up and stand out by being ready to speak to all about the hope we have been given? Take heart, pilgrim, we have been given a message of hope! We find it wonderfully summarized for us in the inspired words of 1 Peter. Peter, a man who knew all about failure and opposition, was once blundering and proud, but as an eyewitness of Christ’s majesty, a recipient of His restorative grace, also became someone who knew a thing or two about God’s grace and hope. Peter writes to pilgrims, aliens, exiles and strangers who are dispersed throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). They are sojourners who can live by grace with strong hope because as sojourners they can live with the assurance that they are on their way to an incorruptible inheritance with Jesus that is reserved in heaven for them and does not fade away. The relevance for us today, as sojourners living in exile in a post-Christian culture, should be obvious. We are given a message of hope – a living, lasting and secure hope. Let us dig into this hope together and pray that we may be encouraged, as well as equipped to share it with others!  Grace for sojourners Grace to you and peace be multiplied. – 1 Peter 1:2c Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-2 The life of a Christian, a pilgrim, a sojourner is not always easy. There are trials, opposition and the challenge of being perceived as different. Peter begins his letter to sojourners with grace. Grace to you and peace! Peter had come to know through hard and blessed experience that his salvation and place as the Lord’s servant was all because of grace. He was amazed by grace and could not stop talking about it. Peter’s tone will be a tone of grace. We come to know ourselves as God’s sojourners – by grace! The loving and gracious plan of the Father, the powerfully gracious work of the Spirit to make this blessing real in our lives, and the obedience and sprinkling of Jesus to give us peace with God – is all undeserved grace. We rest in the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus once and for all – that too is grace. And, as we continue to struggle against sin, we continue to take refuge in the blood, passion and death of our Saviour. That is enduring grace! In Christ, we are chosen by God and precious. We have also been chosen for such a time as this and for these struggles. As elect pilgrims, we have been chosen to be sojourners. That too is grace. Living in exile will not always be easy, but God’s grace is more than enough. The grace God gives us and the peace we enjoy, as a result, is a blessing that is multiplied. God is not cheap with His grace. His grace abounds. Blessed be God! Suggestions for prayer Reflect on the wonder of God’s grace in your life. Count the ways you experience God’s grace and ask Him to help you talk to others about it with a tone of grace. Pray that you will always begin with and return to a deep appreciation of grace. Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 30 – Remember your vows

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5 And now, having just stated the “more” to marriage, that God instituted marriage to mirror the covenantal relationship between Christ and His Church to the praise and glory of God; Paul now offers a final concluding summary. Husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands. Husbands remember your vows: “I, ___________, take you, __________, to be my wife. I promise before God, and all who are present here, to be your loving and faithful husband. I will love you and give myself up for you, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in riches and in poverty, in sickness and in health. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you, and never forsake you as long as we both shall live.” Wives remember your vows: “I, ____________, take you, __________, to be my husband. I promise before God, and all who are present here, to be your loving and faithful wife. I will love you and submit to you, as the church loves and submits to Christ. I promise to be true to you ... and never forsake you, as long as we both shall live.” May we all, as believers, submit to one another out of love for Christ, as imitators of God! Suggestions for prayer May God of His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit help us as husbands and wives to fulfill our marriage vows as imitators of God to the praise and glory of His name. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 29 – The mystery of the one flesh

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5:31-32 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:18-25 God not only created Eve from Adam’s rib, but God officiated the very first wedding ceremony when He walked Eve down the aisle, as it were, and presented her to Adam. God created a woman to solve the problem of Adam’s loneliness, “It is not good that man should be alone.”  God created a help-meet for Adam to fulfill the cultural mandate “Be fruitful and multiply...” The concept of “one flesh” is more than the emotional and physical aspect of marriage between husband and wife (although it includes that). The “more” is described in verse 32 “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  The more” of the marriage union is to reflect the oneness, the intimacy of the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Already from the dawn of creation, God instituted marriage not only for the propagation of the human race, the furtherance of the kingdom of God, or even the enrichment of the lives entering this state, but the “more” of marriage. Marriage is a symbol of the union of Christ and His Church. Therefore, marriage is a mystery because it reveals something far greater. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman to reflect the covenant relationship between Christ and His Church. Marriage is therefore ultimately for God’s glory! Whether single or married, is this true of our view and goal of marriage? Suggestions for prayer May our view of marriage reflect the covenantal relationship between Christ and His Church to the praise and glory of our God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 28 – Leave and cleave

For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. – Ephesians 5:31 Scripture reading: Genesis 2:18-25 Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church is an unbreakable, inseparable bond. He allows nothing and no one to come between and destroy this union. So too, a husband is to leave his father and mother and be united to his wife in an unbreakable-inseparable bond. Literally, they are glued or cemented together. This speaks to both the unity and the permanence of the marriage union. What God has joined together let not man separate. With every marriage, God establishes a new Christian home where the husband is the head and the wife is his help-meet. Both husband and wife are no longer under the authority and responsibility of their parents, but they are now one! They are now inseparable. However, when parents refuse to let go and attempt to control or meddle in their lives, they are a hindrance to the bond of unity between the husband and wife. They are marriage breakers by not allowing the husband and wife the freedom or ability to fulfill their God-ordained roles in marriage.  So too, if a man fails to leave his parents, he not only fails as head of his home, but his wife is no longer appreciated as his primary help-meet. The unbreakable bond that binds husband and wife becomes unglued. Why? All because the husband has not left father and mother and cleaved to his wife. Leave and cleave is God’s standard for marriage. Suggestions for prayer Help couples to adhere to God’s standard to leave and cleave in order to maintain the unity and permanence of the marriage bond. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 27 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (3)

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. – Ephesians 5:28-29 Scripture reading: Psalm 34 Today is the Lord’s Day. Look at how the Lord our God so graciously provides for His Church because we are members of His body. He feeds and nourishes our souls today through the proclamation of the Word of God and by the administration of the sacraments. Everything we need for body and soul, in life and in death, He provides through His Son. Lovingly, He provides for Her. He protects Her. He nourishes and cherishes Her. She lacks no good thing. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. There is no want for those who fear Him. And now, in like manner husbands are to love their wives! Love them as they love and care for their own bodies. Love them and care for them as Christ loves us as members of His Body. As a husband will do his own body no harm, so too, he does his wife no harm. He loves and nourishes her as he does his own body. Love knows no limits in the care and concern he shows and showers upon her. He supplies her with all she needs physically, emotionally and spiritually. Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. She is to be loved as a God-given treasure, as man’s gift from God entrusted into our loving hands to give her warmth, comfort, protection, and security. Suggestions for prayer Just as God shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, so too, may husbands love their wives as their bodies. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 26 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (2)

…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:26-27 Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-3 In addition to husbands loving their wives sacrificially as Christ loves the church, we read here that husbands are to love their wives with a purifying love. Look at the way in which Christ provided for His Bride, the Church. He called her out of this world unto Himself. He nurtured her. He discipled her. He cleansed her, washed her of all her sins with His precious blood shed for her on Calvary’s cross. One day, Jesus will present to His Father, His Bride the Church: pure, holy, blameless and without spot or wrinkle. And now, in the same manner, husbands are to love their wives. HOW? Nurture her, disciple her!  Keep her life free from temptation, free from anything harmful or evil that would cause her to sin. Don’t ask her to do anything that would compromise or contradict God’s Word. Protect her holiness. Maintain her virtue, her purity, her loveliness! Were you to present your bride to the Father in heaven, what will she look like? Will you present a bride, radiant, beautiful, and virtuous in every way; one whom you’ve loved, whom you nurtured in the faith and maintained as one who is blameless and holy? What has your bride turned out to be under your love, under your discipleship, under your spiritual headship? Have you lovingly cultivated her purity, her righteousness, her sanctity, her loveliness? Husbands this is our God-given duty! Suggestions for prayer Help husbands to cultivate the purity of heart in the lives of our wives. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 25 – The manner of the Christian husband’s love (1)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. – Ephesians 5:25 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:14-21; 5:22-33 How much does Christ love His Bride, the Church? He laid down His life for her. Jesus’ love for His Bride is a sacrificial love! Jesus’ love for His Bride is selfless and one of self-denial. He loves her despite all her glaring defects, all her failures and shortcomings and all her sins that make her so ugly, so unattractive. Yet, He loves her. He loves her sacrificially, even to the point of death on the cross. And now, Christ’s sacrificial love serves as the model, the standard established by God in His Word by which husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves His Bride, the Church! What does this mean in a practical way? One author notes, “If a loving husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife, he is certainly willing to make lesser sacrifices for her. He puts his own likes, desires, opinions, preferences, and welfare aside if that is required to please her and meet her needs. He dies to self in order to live for his wife, because that is what Christ’s kind of love demands.” A marriage where the husband loves his wife sacrificially, as Christ loves the Church, is a marriage that will be truly blessed by the Lord to the praise and glory of His name. Suggestions for prayer May God of His grace and Spirit fill our hearts and lives with a love for our wives as Christ loves His Bride, the Church. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 24 – The duty of the Christian husband

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also the loved the church and gave Himself for her. – Ephesians 5:25 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:22-33 Not only has God ordained the husband to be head over the wife, and the wife to submit to her husband, but God now commands, “Husbands, love your wives.”  Notice how the respective commands given to husbands and wives are vastly different. Wives are commanded by God to submit and respect their husbands (vv.22,33). Men on the other hand are commanded by God to love their wives. In a culture where to love often means little more than romance and sex, or is reduced to mere sentimental or pleasant feelings, the Bible’s definition of love shows love’s true God-like quality and permanence. Love as defined in Scripture reveals a most significant character of God Himself “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” What is love? Well, the Bible’s definition of love is expressed simplest and best in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 where we read, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”  Husbands, let us heed God’s command, “Husbands, love your wives” so that not only will our marriages be blessed, but let us do so to the praise and glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Help husbands to love their wives not as the world defines love, but as defined here in the Word of God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 23 – The model of the Christian wife’s submission

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:24 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:9-18 As much as a husband’s leadership should be characterized by Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church, a wife’s submission is to be modeled after the Church’s submission to Christ, Who is the Head of the Church. Christ through His Word and Spirit, lovingly leads and directs the Church, His bride. In her humble and quiet submission, she is a beautiful testimony of a godly and virtuous woman. She is a wonderful testimony to her children, her church, and the community of the marriage of Christ and His Church. She brings honor to her husband, to her family, to her church, and most importantly, she brings honor and glory to her Lord! And when the Church refuses to submit to her Head there is no blessing. In the same way, when wives refuse to submit to their husbands the resistance will wreak havoc in the marriage. The marriage becomes dysfunctional. It is not blessed. Where there is a power struggle there will be no peace, no unity, no harmony, and no blessing of the Lord. In the end, everyone loses, the husband, the wife, the children, the church and society. As one author noted, “And the love that binds this man and woman in marriage is a magnificent love because it portrays something magnificent - `as Christ loved the church’ and `as the church submits to Christ.” Suggestions for prayer May our wives walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing unto Him. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 22 – The manner of the Christian wife’s submission

Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-6 A wife’s submission to her husband is not conditional upon whether her husband is a nice guy, or that he loves her sacrificially and as lovingly as Christ loves the church. No, her submission is first and foremost “as to the Lord.”  She submits in all things lawful because she wants to be obedient to God’s Word in her role as a wife. In her submission to the Lord, she honors the Lord in her marriage and for His glory. But then, how is submission possible under adverse conditions, with a difficult or unloving husband?  HOW? – Well, the key to her submission is “AS TO THE LORD!”  It is in humble submission “AS TO THE LORD” that she, as much as depends on her, maintains peace within the home. A godly woman will accomplish much more by her loving submission and service to her husband than by her constant complaining, nagging or fighting. A godly wife who submits to her husband does so first and foremost in submission to the Lord. In so doing, she and her household are blessed and God is glorified! Suggestions for prayer That the manner of a wife’s submission may always be as to the Lord; and that in so doing she brings honor and glory to God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 21 – The duty of the Christian wife

Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:22-33; Proverbs 31:10-31 The duty to which God calls Christian wives could hardly be stated more clearly than what we read here in God’s Word, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”  Sadly, for many, even within the church, this seems outdated and even offensive. But properly understood, submission does not mean the wife is in any way inferior to her husband. She is not to submit because of any moral, spiritual or functional deficiency. Rather, her role of submission is defined by virtue of the fact she was created by God for man as his companion and help-meet. We have a beautiful portrait of a godly wife serving as a help-meet in humble submission and service to her husband in Proverbs 31. We read of a wife who is very competent, thrifty, intelligent, resourceful, caring and loving in her service to her husband. She is certainly not a servant or maid to wait upon her husband, hand and foot. She is certainly not a doormat on which to be trampled. A loving and wise husband appreciates the wife God has provided for him and utilizes his wife’s God-given gifts and the resources which she contributes to the marriage to complete him and to compliment him. And what is the result? “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Suggestions for prayer May wives find their joy and fulfillment in marriage as they heed the command of the Lord to submit to their husbands. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 20 – A Spirit-filled Christian gathers for worship

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25 Scripture reading: Psalm 95 Will you be attending the worship services today? Why or why not? Already in the early church, there were those who neglected the gathering together to worship God on the Lord’s Day. Maybe you have a legitimate reason: health, infirmity, work of necessity. But what about the rest of us? As Spirit-filled Christians, let us take heed to the call to worship and not neglect the gathering together of God’s people today. Let us enter with joy as we receive the Lord’s greeting and depart with His blessing. Let us prepare our hearts in eager anticipation of partaking of the means of grace: the faithful preaching of the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments. Let us unite our hearts in praise as we sing unto the Lord. Let us offer up our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication. Let us rejoice in the promise of the gospel as we listen to the Law. Let us express our unity in faith as we recite the Apostles’ Creed. Let us give unto the Lord with liberality as the Lord has richly blessed us. True worship, worship in spirit and truth in accordance with the Word of God is pleasing unto the Lord, essential for the building up of our faith, and is necessary for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Suggestions for prayer May God fill our hearts with the Spirit that we may long to worship the Lord our God. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 19 – A Spirit-filled life is submissive

…submitting to one another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:21 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 Evidence of a Spirit-filled life is made manifest in our “submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  Quite literally, Spirit-filled Christians rank themselves under one another. Even within the Godhead, Jesus, in His humility, submitted Himself to the will of His Father though He is one and equal with the Father. We are to submit to our civil authorities whom God has appointed over us in all things not contrary to the Word of God (Romans 13:1-7). We are to submit to the office-bearers of the church whom the Holy Spirit has made overseers to shepherd the church (Acts 20:28), and who keep watch over our soul (Hebrews 13:17). Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (5:22). Children are to obey their parents (6:1). Employees are to be obedient to their employers (6:5). To maintain good order within the various spheres of life instituted by God, He commands us to submit to one another. Refusal to submit is a sin and results in disunity and chaos from which we must repent. And yet, submission is hard – real hard!  Why? Because of our sinful rebellious nature. We all insist upon our rights, our ways and our opinions. We live in an age of entitlement. Pride and arrogance trump humility and submission. And yet, a Spirit-filled Christian is a mutual submitting Christian. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a spirit of Christ-like humility that we may submit to one another. May we submit to one another as the Holy Spirit empowers and enables us to do so. Rev. Henry Van Olst felt called to the ministry at the age of 32 after 12 years of working in the accounting field. He served the Parkland Reformed Church (URC) of Ponoka, Alberta from 1993 to 2005; served in several other churches, and upon retirement in 2020 moved back to Ponoka, Alberta along with his wife Mary, to be closer to their four married children and fifteen grandchildren. Rev. Van Olst remains active in preaching and teaching as the church is currently vacant. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

June 18 – A Spirit-filled life is always thankful

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

Daily devotional

June 17 – A Spirit-filled life sings

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

Daily devotional

June 16 – Be fill with the Spirit, not wine

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

Daily devotional

June 15 – Walk in wisdom

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

Daily devotional

June 14 – The challenge to children of light

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

Daily devotional

June 13 – Characteristics of children of light

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

Daily devotional

June 12 – Walk as children of light

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

Daily devotional

June 11 – Do not be partakers with them

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

Daily devotional

June 10 – The consequences

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

Daily devotional

June 9 – Conduct not fitting for the Christian

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

Daily devotional

June 8 – Walk in love as Christ also loved us

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

Daily devotional

June 7 – Walk in love

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

June 5 – Be imitators of God as dear children

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

Daily devotional

June 4 – Be imitators of God’s forgiveness

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

Daily devotional

June 3 – Be imitators of God’s tenderheartedness

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

Daily devotional

June 2 – Be imitators of God’s kindness

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

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of June

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

Daily devotional

May 31 – Our beautiful King and Saviour

He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:15-16 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-3, 36-37; 1 Timothy 6:13-16 We have spent a month bumping up against the worst impulses of a human king like Nebuchadnezzar. We have seen what arrogance and pride does to a man and his kingdom. The ugliness of sin has been on full display. The stubbornness of his heart’s corruption has shocked us. In the midst of this, God’s faithful servants have stood firm in the Word of God and trusted in His promises. How? By trusting in the LORD and believing in the Anointed One Who delivers our bodies from the grave and our hearts from the condemnation of sin! Cherish this truth, dear readers, that you are graciously called to love a wondrously different King! You are promised blessing from the King of Kings! He is the unwavering and unflinching Shepherd Who acts out of His perfection and the fullness of His mercy towards you. “Take heart,” He reminds us, “for I have overcome the world!” It does not matter what the plots of our adversaries are when we have the Lord of Hosts on our side! Our brother in Christ, the Apostle Peter, encourages us that “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” So, together let us worship Him as we joyfully sing, Beautiful Saviour, Lord of the Nations, Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honour, praise, adoration Now and for evermore be thine! Suggestions for prayer Saviour, like a Shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care. 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 30 – Worthy

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. – Revelation 4:11 Scripture readings: Revelation 4:8-11; Daniel 4:34-37 The change of Nebuchadnezzar’s heart yielded an uncompromising proclamation of the dominion of the Most High. He broke out of his madness when he blessed the Lord and praised Him. What a moment! In the words of the king which Daniel likely composed for distribution to the peoples in his kingdom, the king made known that, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” He utters true words that we, by faith, are moved to assent to and share with him. The question of the truth of his heart is a subject of considerable dispute because tragically there did not appear to be any further fruits of repentance in Nebuchadnezzar. He drops out of the story at the end of chapter four and we don’t have any further record of him. But we can ask this question of ourselves: do we live with faith in the face of God’s coming judgment of the mighty and the lowly? The LORD has decreed that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. In Luke 18, Jesus Christ asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Be sure that you are trusting in Jesus, the Lamb of God who has been provided for you and enables you to live with confidence as you await the coming judgment Day! Suggestions for prayer Help us Lord to walk in true repentance and obedience! Deliver us from temptation. Make our hearts abound in thanksgiving for Your mercies and love! 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 29 – Come see what I have done

Seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. – Daniel 4:32 Scripture readings: Psalm 66; Daniel 4:28-33 The words of Psalm 66 are a great instruction in the fear of God as the Psalmist teaches us, “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man... He rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations-- let not the rebellious exalt themselves.” In the utterances of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, we find him speaking in counterfeit claims about his importance and place in the world. He declares that he is responsible for the great things around him. He composes a counterfeit psalm to exalt himself. It didn’t go well. As the LORD had warned through His servant Daniel, the king was abruptly cast down and turned into a bestial madman for the span of seven periods of time. However, the truth of God’s message is underscored further in the fact that the king’s position isn’t usurped by one of his rivals during his madness, but instead, by the Will of God, the king returns to his throne after his madness. That in itself is sufficient proof that the Lord directed this whole affair to make plain His truth. Therefore, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:17-19). Suggestions for prayer We praise you our Holy Father for graciously providing us with a Mediator Who was judged in our place. Graciously open the hearts of our loved ones so that they may know that you are LORD and that You will save all who call out to You in faith. 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 28 – Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God

Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity. – Daniel 4:27 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:19-27; Micah 6:8-16 Many years before confronting Nebuchadnezzar through the vision of the chopped-down tree, the LORD sent Micah to warn the Israelites that they were also in grave danger of being cut down. Why? They also were acting with wickedness, violence, and pride. The LORD sent messengers to them – as He later did to Nebuchadnezzar – and yet they would not listen. Daniel, as a servant of God, anointed with the Spirit of the prophets, brought word to the king with clear examples of what repentance unto everlasting life looks like. Similarly, we find in Proverbs 3:7-8 the instruction to, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” After all that they had done, the LORD was still willing to grant His forgiveness to those who had turned against Him and forsaken His Word, including a pagan king like Nebuchadnezzar. But the LORD’s instructions to the king went unheeded and he preferred to do what was opposite to what the LORD had told him to do. When you remember who you are in Christ, you can marvel that the LORD does bring about a work of transformation in your heart so that you do become more ready to act with love and less inclined to hardheartedness and tightfistedness towards your neighbours. He has shown you what is good and He will guide you in that path as you walk with Him! Suggestions for prayer Gracious Father, we ask You to embolden us as Your witnesses in a world that constantly rejects You and Your Word. Sanctify us by Your Spirit. Make us ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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 27 – The Most High rules the kingdoms of men

That the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men. – Daniel 4:17 Scripture readings: Romans 13:1-7; Daniel 4:13-18 Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream is fulfilled soon after he receives it in order to send a message that the LORD is sovereign over all. There is a lesson for us in this as well. We learn, by way of contrast, that the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom and the greatest way to escape the foolish pride and arrogance of living in our own strength. Living a self-centred life does not always have the catastrophic consequences that it did for Nebuchadnezzar, but it does result in a drifting away from God and a distancing of oneself from His care and protection. Who needs protection or mercy if you are strong and right? This is the boast of our own sinful hearts until the Lord intervenes to make us appreciate again how much we need Him in our lives. He appoints kings and councillors and numbers their days. He designates the length of a kingdom’s duration and sets the borders of nations with an authority that our international governing bodies do not possess. Moses, in Psalm 90, reminds us that our regular petition to the LORD should be to, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” ”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Let us learn from the LORD how He shows His favour to the lowly and gives grace to the humble who trust and believe in Him! Suggestions for prayer Teach us to number our days. Transform our hearts with godly wisdom and contentment. Humble us that we may receive Your grace. 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 26 – Ignoring the warning of God

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. – Psalm 95:7 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-27; Psalm 95:6-11 The letter which Daniel circulated, in the king’s name, to the peoples is quite simple to understand. We have a warning followed by the very action being warned against. Perhaps, if you’ve been around younger children, you know what this experience is like: you warn children not to do something ... and then they go and do that very thing in front of you. Well, age is no protection from this type of foolishness and worse types of open rebellion against God. The audience who received this letter must have been stunned by what they read of the king’s downfall. Through Daniel’s influence, the king served as a temporary ambassador of the LORD most High by proclaiming that the Word of the LORD was true. Ignoring the warnings of God and turning from His counsel is to invite serious harm and consequences upon oneself. The Israelites understood this well, as Psalm 95 rehearses the wilderness rebellions. We are also able to understand this struggle. Yet the LORD instructs us through this king’s prideful rebellion against God that we would take to heart His admonition to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1Peter 5:6- 7). Through faith in Christ, “You may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4). Suggestions for prayer Father, teach us to listen to your instructions. Forgive us when we go astray. Renew us through Your Spirit so that we would respond gladly to your leading. 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 25 – A lesson learned four times

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. – John 20:29 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-3; John 20:27-31 Men like Nebuchadnezzar take a long time to learn. In the first chapter, the king has the opportunity to see firsthand what the fear of God looks like, in the lives of the four men of Judah. In the second chapter, the king receives his vision and he is again reminded that it is the Lord of Israel who ministers truth to His people. In the third chapter, the king responds by building a big statue to ‘correct’ what the Lord had said about him and his dynasty, but the Lord reveals His power to Nebuchadnezzar. The fourth chapter shows that he continues to resist the will of God by resorting to his old ways. In Daniel 4:7, the king calls on the old fools who were previously revealed to be impotent liars and cheats. Finally, the king is brought low by God and turned into a beast. At last, after all this, Nebuchadnezzar is willing to have Daniel prepare an edict to go out to the peoples, nations and languages concerning the true God. Yet it might be best to title this letter in chapter four, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Momentary Perception of the True God.” The text of the fourth chapter of Daniel was probably composed by Daniel as a letter to be sent out under the king’s signature to the ends of his kingdom. Are you more eager than the king of Babylon to declare the signs and wonders the Most High God has made known to you? Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death, and the evil one. 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 24 – Blessed be the God of Israel!

Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Scripture readings: Daniel 3:26-30; Psalm 107:1-9 Writing about the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar, Calvin wrote, “We must bear defamatory statements about us, for the time patiently, until the LORD shall shine upon us as the asserter of our innocence.” We don’t always know if we will be vindicated when we are confronted for the truth we proclaim concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the exclusive call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. The three men did not know if they would emerge from the fires or if they would succumb to their injuries. Nonetheless, they knew that the LORD would assert their innocence. In this instance, the LORD displayed their righteousness in a dramatic fashion and Nebuchadnezzar was astounded by the scene before his eyes. Despite the ferocity of his furnace, they weren’t harmed in any way! When Nebuchadnezzar addressed the gathered crowd, he came close to confessing the name of God, but the tragedy in this scene is that his proclamation was still an external acknowledgment and not an internal surrender to the LORD, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Under his banner, a proclamation went out that proclaimed the greatness of Yahweh, but it did not result in personal faith. Which brings us to this sobering reminder: it is not enough to know true things about God. We must trust in the LORD with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding or our strength or our own pride. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything! 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 23 – The fiery furnace and the fiery Presence

It shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Acts 2:21 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:18-25; Acts 2:1-21 Today is Pentecost and we marvel at the contrast between the fiery furnace that was kindled by Nebuchadnezzar in order to kill and the fiery presence kindled by the Spirit of God in order to make alive! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stamp out the servants of God while the Holy Spirit’s fire anointed them for the bearing of testimony to the nations! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stop the mouths of those who claimed, “Our God is able to deliver us,” while the Holy Spirit’s fire brought the power of God to a multitude who went forth proclaiming “Our God has delivered us through the man Who was crucified!” Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace was made powerless to harm by the presence of the Son of Man, while the Holy Spirit’s fiery presence in Jerusalem was made possible by the presence of the Son of Man Who was risen from the grave! The Son of Man interceded to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in an early preview of His great act of salvation, which the Apostle Peter proclaimed so powerfully to all who would listen on the day of Pentecost. The testimony continues to go out about Jesus Who was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for redeeming you from the powers of sin and death. Rejoice in the Lord’s goodness 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 22 – Who will deliver you?

If you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? – Daniel 3:15 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:8-18 The challenge for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that their lives depended upon their response to Nebuchadnezzar’s blasphemous reproach of their stance, against his directive to worship his golden image. Would they blaspheme God or would they defy Nebuchadnezzar? Interestingly, in this account, we don’t know what the rest of the community’s response was. It may be that many did bow while others tried, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, to abstain from this act of false worship. In any case, we know that the Lord can forgive even such blasphemous worship. The Lord has a will and a way of delivering a man like Naaman who had fallen before the gods of his peoples until he learned of the Lord’s instructions to him. The Lord could forgive those who had fallen into various forms of idolatry. And yet the Lord was calling on His people to consider well the example of these men. In Daniel 7, the saints are warned of the dogged persistence of the kingdom of darkness to wear down the resistance of God’s people. This is why the LORD gives us the whole armor of God to withstand these attacks. As Calvin reminds us, from the beginning, “The Church of Christ has been so constituted that death has been the way to life and the cross the path to victory.” Even to die a fiery death is not the worst thing for us – for we have been joined to the Son of God who has died for us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for relief for those who are being persecuted under unjust rulers. Pray for joy in the face of hardships. Pray that the LORD would teach us the way of full obedience to 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 21 – What was I supposed to do?

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Matthew 8:35-36 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:4-12; Matthew 8:28-34 We see the very heart on display which the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 1:22 of the wicked “claiming to be wise” yet “they became fools”. For it is only a fool that says, “The thing that the Lord has revealed to me, I will defy. In fact, I will double down on it by forcing all the peoples in my tribe, and in my city, and among all the nations to stand and bow before this declaration of warfare on God’s plan.” Nebuchadnezzar wanted a crowd of witnesses to join him as he proclaimed that, “What the Lord has said, shall not come to pass.” We must know how this turns out. Pride does not go unpunished. There is no excuse just because we find ourselves in a crowd engaged in the same defiant activity. The circumstances in your life where this occurs are less dramatic than the display in Daniel 3, but the call to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ continues to require the courage that is on display in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Apostle John made this need for courageous conviction plain in his letter to the church, “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to follow Jesus as a witness of His love and truth. Pray for discernment to understand the subtle occasions for compromise in our lives. Pray for those who are being intensely persecuted. 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 20 – I did it my way

Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. – Daniel 3:6 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:1-7; Revelation 18:1-8 What did the head of gold from the earlier vision go and do? He built an entire statue of gold! He made it plain that he was rejecting the message and rebelling against it. He is signalling to all who will listen, “Why should I be just the head if I can erect an image that exudes wealth, power and significance from head to toe?” The great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s own making was a billboard declaring his newfound disagreement with the prophecy of Daniel’s God. Had he taken the Word of God seriously, he might have built a statue with a golden head and explained to his people, “Look, there is another king who is coming and we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.” Nebuchadnezzar’s gold-plated display of defiance against the LORD symbolized his desire to allow no kingdom to destroy his dynasty. The fact that it occupied the site where the Tower of Babel was once constructed only adds to the irony of what he is attempting here. Today we are still in need of the Lord’s clear warning in Psalm 2 where we read, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” Today we are to remember that the LORD is in no way threatened by the forces of evil in this world Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would grant you joy in the face of opposition from the world. Thank Him for being patient with you in your weakness. Ask Him to give you a renewed resolve to serve Him without compromise. 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 19 – We live in the day when the stone is revealed

Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery. – Daniel 2:47 Scripture readings: 1 Timothy 1:16; Daniel 2:46-49 Think of the reaction of God’s people when they beheld the forces of Darius the Mede standing in the throne room that Nebuchadnezzar had occupied with such splendour and seeming invincibility! Suddenly, as foretold in the vision, the great Babylonian Empire had fallen. The believers would have realized that this first stage in this vision had been completed. Later, when the exiles beheld the sudden and stunning overpowering of the middle Persian Empire by the forces of Alexander the Great, they must have wondered, “Is the next stage in this vision now being fulfilled?” And then when the forces of Rome overtook the mighty Greeks, scattered their armies, and took all their lands, they must have realized, “We are now getting near to the day of the stone!” While the reaction of King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 46-47 is significant, what matters more for the LORD is that His people grasp His messages to them! This means that we are to rejoice and delight because we live in the day of the stone which has been revealed from heaven! As Sinclair Ferguson said, “We need to remember that this great kingdom belongs to God. It is indestructible, victorious, eternal, and it is universal.” “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:6-7). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you peace in your circumstances as you await the day when you will enter the Promised Land of rest for all of God’s people. Pray for contentment when God’s plans for you seem hard to understand or experience. 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 18 – When did the stone come on the scene?

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. – Daniel 2:44 Scripture readings: Luke 2:1-7; Daniel 2:40-45 When did the kingdom of the stone cut from the mountain without human hands begin? The answer is when Jesus came to earth as the incarnate Son of God. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy and His church – gathered from every tribe, tongue and nation – is the kingdom that shall never be destroyed. As Luke records for us, the Messiah was born of the Virgin Mary during the reign of the first emperor of Ancient Rome, Caesar Augustus. Far from the mighty corridors of power in Rome, a small child was laid to rest in a manger and a crowd of shepherds bore witness to His humble circumstances. Yet the LORD prepared His people – servants like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) – through the dream and its interpretation to look forward to the coming of the Greatest Kingdom the world has or ever shall see! At this stage in human history, we still live in a time where we do not yet see all things in obedience and subjection to the Lord (Hebrews 2:8). We do not yet see the fullness of the kingdom of God. But we are assured that nothing shall prevail against His kingdom (Matthew 16:18). In the end, on the last day, we are assured that the kingdom of God shall stand and all nations shall bow. All nations shall be crushed under that stone. Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 21:42, “Have you never read the scriptures, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Suggestions for prayer Father, may Thy Kingdom Come! Lead us in truth and righteousness. Prepare our hearts for the day of Christ’s coming. Strengthen our faith. 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 17 – What the future holds for those God loves

A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure. – Daniel 2:45 Scripture readings: Daniel 2:31-39; Daniel 8:15-27 Daniel provided this interpretation of the king’s vision and he assigns only one specific name – Nebuchadnezzar’s – to the kingdoms described in the sequence of dynasties that would arise before being brought low by the stone carved by the God of heaven. With historical insight and the comparison we find to this vision in Daniel 8, we can conclude that Daniel prophesies of the rise and fall of the Babylonians (head), the Medo-Persians (chest & arms), the Greeks (torso & thighs), and the Romans (legs & feet). However, these kingdoms are relevant here because their boundaries would include the land of Judah. Consequently, the LORD’s message to Nebuchadnezzar must properly be seen as a message to the LORD’s people at the end of their period in exile and in the days of their return to Judah. He wants the children of God to know what the future holds. Not in absolute detail, but in enough detail to know how it ends: with the kingdom of heaven established upon the earth! Though Daniel tells this to Nebuchadnezzar, he is commanded by God to write this down for God’s people. The LORD’s Word concerning the life to come is chiefly for His people who can find comfort and courage to withstand trials and temptations of various kinds (1 Peter 1). The vision is all about God’s people in the end as He establishes a proper dwelling place for the temple of God – His people! Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility in our nation’s leaders to see that their authority is from God. Pray for patience in our hearts as we await the return of Christ. Pray for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the earth. 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. This picture used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license from FreeBible Images.org....

Daily devotional

May 16 – All that glitters is not gold

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. – Psalm 1:4-5 Scripture readings: Psalm 1:4; Daniel 2:31-35 Daniel accomplished the very thing that Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors had said was impossible: he was able to describe the dream in the span of four verses because the LORD provided him with the knowledge of the dream and its interpretation. This reminds us of what Jesus said in another context that, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Before we move to the interpretation, it’s worth reflecting on the creative brilliance of this vision and the way the LORD gets His point across to this prideful ruler of the Babylonians. From a distance, this image was exceedingly bright and frightening as it stood before the king in his dream. This is like a super-charged totem pole with various metals arranged in layers. Yet the splendour and extravagance of the image were reduced to shreds by a greater object of divine origin – a stone that the king sees being carved from the mountain without human intervention! The original image, which terrified Nebuchadnezzar, was suddenly not his concern anymore. The stone obliterated the image and, as Daniel explained, it became a great image and filled the whole earth. I find a parallel here with Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians that, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong ... but remember, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:27-30). Suggestions for prayer Father, grant us insight into what matters most so that we would not be fearful, but rather live with confidence in Christ the Son through Whom life has come to our souls! 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 15 – Facing certain death

This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God. – Jeremiah 26:16 Scripture readings: Jeremiah 26; Daniel 2:25-30 When Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD to Daniel’s predecessors in Judah before the exile, there were many who spoke against him to denounce his message of the judgment of God against their sins. They sought to have him killed for bringing the truth to God’s covenant people. Astonishingly, Daniel received a better reaction from the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar than Jeremiah received from those who had been given the Law and the Prophets and the covenant signs. Nonetheless, while King Nebuchadnezzar was more receptive to Daniel because of the intensity of his fear of the vision he’d received, he still challenged Daniel by asking, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel testified that the bankruptcy of those who said, “There is no one who can interpret your dream” was matched by the supremacy of the God in heaven Who reveals mysteries about “what is to be.” This God of heaven continues to send out messengers who have come to us with words of life so that you would sincerely believe and trust in Christ Who was crucified by those who rejected Him, but embraced by those who cherish Him. Therefore, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for a readiness to daily take up your cross as you follow Jesus. Praise God for bringing you His Word today. Ask the Lord to open the hearts of those who refuse to embrace Him as their Saviour. 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 14 – He removes kings and sets up kings

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22   Scripture readings: Psalm 2; Daniel 2:17-24 Daniel believed that the LORD would deliver him and his friends from the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. We read that he told his friends to join him in seeking, “mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed.” He prayed to the true God and the LORD answered! He received the truth about deep and hidden things. As Daniel says in verse 23, the simplest summary of the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, is that the LORD removes kings and sets up kings. Our God is so great that we can not only bring our needs to Him, but we can also know that even the things we are not even aware of in this world, are all known to Him. So when we confront the hardest burdens, we can follow in the path of the faithful who cry out to the LORD above Who hears our petitions and answers our requests. When our prayers are answered, we do well to see the faith-filled response of Daniel in the psalm he composes as an act of worship in verses 20-23. The moment Daniel receives the answer, his first thought isn’t to rush out to Nebuchadnezzar, but instead, his first impulse is to worship the LORD of Lords. Our God is always delighted to hear our response of thanksgiving and joy after He grants us our requests, chiefly in Christ. The prayer of gratitude is the greatest expression of praise to the LORD! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the LORD for His revelation to you of the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Pray that you would further understand His Will in changing and challenging times in your 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 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....