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!

Create an Account

Save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Advertisement

Most Recent



The Rest


Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 9 – Obedience of faith and God’s mission

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 6 – God’s second covenant with Israel and His mission

And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” - Exodus 34:27 Scripture reading: Exodus 32:1-14; 33:12-16; 34:5-7 A few days after Israel agreed to participate in God’s mission for His glory, it violates the second commandment by having Aaron build a golden calf and worshipping it. Consequently, God no longer considers Israel to be His people. Moreover, He wants to destroy them and make a great nation out of Moses. When Moses intercedes for the people, invoking God’s promise of making Abraham into a great nation, God decides not to destroy Israel. When God decides to send an angel with Israel instead of going Himself, Moses intercedes again and God has compassion on His people and forgives them.  He commits to personally accompany His people with His presence. Because of the crisis and uncertainty, Israel’s violation of God’s covenant with them had caused, God demonstrates His faithfulness and rescues His mission for His glory with another covenant. The new covenant updates His first one with Israel to the new situation of them having broken the first one. This second covenant is different from God’s first covenant with Israel because it is first a covenant with Moses and in Moses a covenant with Israel. Because Moses had found favour in the sight of God, God has compassion on His people and forgives them. As such, Israel can only participate in God’s mission for His glory because of God’s faithfulness and His willingness to forgive. It is precisely the name “LORD” that should remind Israel of this fact (Ex. 34:6-7). Suggestions for prayer Praise your heavenly Father for His steadfast love, grace, mercy, and willingness to forgive. Thank Him that you can always make a new beginning and continue to participate in His mission for His glory. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 5 – The blood of the covenant and God’s mission

And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” - Exodus 24:8 Scripture reading: Exodus 24:1-8 Keeping God’s covenant as His treasured possession that functions as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, will involve Israel keeping God’s commandments and statutes (Exodus 20-23). To impress upon the people His holiness and the required holiness of living in His presence, God manifests Himself to them in a powerful display of His majesty and holiness (Exodus 19:16-25). When Israel keeps God’s covenant in this way, she will not only increasingly learn what participating in God’s mission for His glory entails, she would also concretely bear witness to the surrounding nations what that involves.  Essentially, it involves a life of love, living for others as God lives for others (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s covenant with Israel is formally ratified in Exodus 24. After telling them all of God’s commandments and statutes, the people agreed to keep them. Having offered sacrifices to God, Moses threw some of the blood of the sacrifices on the altar, symbolizing God’s presence, and some of the people, symbolizing their willingness to participate in God’s mission for His glory. The people again repeat their commitment to be God’s treasured possession by being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation through keeping God’s covenant. In doing so, they formally agree to be God’s means to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations by being a people and a place where heaven and earth meet because they bear witness to the glory of God’s perfect life by living a life of love, i.e. Living for the other. Suggestions for prayer When you publicly professed your faith, you publicly promised to participate in God’s mission for His glory. Ask your heavenly Father to help you keep your commitment. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 4 – The theatre of God’s mission for His glory

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. - Exodus 19:5-6 Scripture reading: Genesis 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:9-10 God called Abraham and Sarah to make a complete break with their past, leaving behind everything dear to them, and go to the land that He would show them. He wanted to use them to deal with the problem of sin in the world caused by Adam and Eve, by having them bear witness to the glory of His loving presence to one another and to the world around them, by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. On earth as in heaven! God’s two covenants with Abraham were demonstrations of His faithfulness to this purpose. Before God makes His covenant with Israel as a nation, He explains what kind of a nation Israel will be if they keep His covenant. They will have the status of being His treasured possession among all people, meaning they will be a people with whom He has a valued and special relationship for the sake of the other people in the world. As a treasured possession, they will function as a kingdom of priests, who will mediate the presence of God to the nations by making Him visible through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. As a treasured possession, they will also function as a holy nation, that is a nation set apart from the other nations and consecrated to God as the theatre of God’s mission for His glory. In doing so, God wants to use them to bring the blessing of Abraham to the nations. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the privilege of belonging to His treasured possession, meant to be the theatre of His mission for His glory by bearing witness to His perfect life by living in His presence. Ask God to show you where you may need to make some changes in your life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 3 – God comes to the rescue of His mission

....And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, – Exodus 3:8 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-12 When God made His covenant with Abraham, He said, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:13-14). After 400 years, God appears to Moses and tells him that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Implied in this revelation is that He remembers His covenant with Abraham. He shares with Moses that He is going to rescue His people from Egypt and bring them back into Canaan. After ten displays of His majesty and power in Egypt, and a display of this same power in leading His people through the Red Sea, God brings them to Mount Sinai where He makes His first covenant with them. God’s covenants with His people are not independent and unrelated to each other, but update previous covenants to new situations. God’s first covenant with Israel updates His covenants with Noah and Abraham to the new situation of Abraham’s descendants becoming a nation. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for His faithfulness to His mission for His glory that He will one day rescue us from this broken world and bring us into the new creation of a new earth. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

February 2 – God mission for his glory and his covenants

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant… - Exodus 19:6 Scripture reading: Exodus 19:1-6 I’m sure those who are married have not forgotten their marriage vows. Perhaps, as a groom you made a vow like this: “I solemnly declare to take to myself and acknowledge as my wife _______. And I promise that I will, with the gracious help of God, love, honour and maintain her, live with her in the holy bonds of marriage according to God’s ordinance, and never forsake her, so long as we both shall live.” As the bride, you made a similar vow. Why are vows necessary? Why not solemnize a marriage without vows? Well, vows are necessary because of the fall into sin. Before the fall into sin, there was no need for formally bonded relationships, because there was no uncertainty in them. After the fall into sin, all sorts of uncertainty crept into relationships. Because of the fall into sin, we make covenants with each other. We seal these covenants with an oath in the presence of God and each other. God Himself also makes covenants with humanity and His people. Why would it be necessary for God to make covenants with human beings? This is necessary because of the fall into sin. Because of the fall into sin, there is often uncertainty in the relationship between God and us. And so, God finds it necessary to formally guarantee His commitment to us as well as His commitment to His purposes for us and His world. This is also the reason why He makes a covenant with Israel. Suggestions for prayer When you feel uncertainty in your relationship with your heavenly Father, ask Him to take it away by having you focus on His commitment to you, signed and sealed with baptism, that He will provide you with everything good and protect you from evil or turn it to your benefit. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to February - God’s Mission for His Glory...

These meditations continue the series I did a year ago about God’s mission for His glory. To ensure continuity, I repeated two meditations from the first series. God created the world for His glory, i.e. that humanity and creation would make Him visible on earth by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. As such, God would be praised by both humanity and creation. Because this changed with the fall into sin, God embarks on a mission to make all things new in a world where His people and His creation would again abide in His presence and make Him visible by being people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). However, we know that the end is better than the beginning. The beginning of creation is only the beginning of the life of glory, while the new heaven and new earth are the perfection or consummation of the life of glory. Right from the beginning, there was room for growth to reach the perfection living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. The biblical covenants made in Scripture are designed to advance and guarantee God’s commitment to His goal for creation and to having His people participate with Him in the achievement of this goal. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem that causes uncertainty in it. A new covenant often updates an earlier covenant to the new situation. I have entitled this second series: God’s Mission for His Glory and His Covenants with Israel, David, the Promise of a New Covenant and Life in Christ in the New Covenant. I enjoyed writing these meditations, was edified in doing so and hope and pray that you will be too. February 1 – God’s mission for his glory And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will well with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” - Revelation 21:3 Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-8 In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the loving presence of God. They participated in His life, light, and love and reflected this to one another and throughout the Garden. This made them persons who made God visible by being people where heaven and earth meet. It made the Garden of Eden a place where heaven and earth meet. Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden reflected the glory of God, that is His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. With the fall into sin, all of this changed. Because Adam and Eve lived outside the Garden of Eden, they no longer lived in God’s loving presence nor participated in His life, light, and love. Moreover, they no longer lived in a place where heaven and earth met, nor were they people who could give each other and those around them an encounter with God’s presence, His glory. However, God had no intention of leaving things this way. He immediately declared His intent to embark on a mission for His glory and make all things new. His people and His world would once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). Throughout Scripture we encounter God on this mission for His glory. At the end of Scripture, we see that God achieves the goal of this mission for His glory, on earth as in heaven! What a beautiful and encouraging mission! Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you how He is on a mission for His glory in your life. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 31 – God is the God of peace

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:9-24 Shalom! In Bible times, when people met or said goodbye, they used this word shalom. In Hebrew, this word means peace, but could also be translated as harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare or tranquillity. It is the absence of anything that can in some measure disturb our lives. God is the God of peace! He is perfectly at peace, ever and always! Nothing that happens in this world truly disturbs Him. He knows it all; He ordained it all so there is a mighty calm in heaven. How we need this peace to invade our fearful hearts. This is possible through Christ, Who is our Peace. He made peace in His blood, while we were yet enemies! In sanctification, He breaks our sinful and rebellious alienation, so that the better we know God, the more we will experience His peace. We may trust that our God of peace will preserve our whole being blameless till Christ returns to bring eternal shalom. Then we will experience God's full peace. Then we will truly prosper and nothing will ever make us afraid, because only knowing His presence with us brings such peace. Isaiah already knew this when he wrote, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9). Let us trust the God of peace and let us pray, "Lord haste the day of eternal peace!" Shalom!  Suggestions for prayer Thank God when He has made peace in your life. Let us pray that knowing God will increasingly bring peace to our lives, until we as believers, one day, enjoy eternal peace. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 30 - God is the God of all comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 God is the God of all comfort. Knowing Him is the source of our true comfort in life and death. We are only able to know Him because He is so merciful to us, having revealed Himself to us in His Word and by His Spirit for His own glory. The more we know God, the more we will be able to rest in His sovereign Lordship and love through Christ. The more we know, treasure and relish Who God is, deepening comfort will fill our lives, even during our troubles and afflictions. This comfort will, through the Great Comforter the Holy Spirit, also flow to others! He, as the Source of all encouragement, comfort and consolation comes alongside us in our need for mercy, saving us in Christ. Let us, therefore, come alongside those who lack comfort, appreciating how He has comforted us. Not only does knowing God bring us true and lasting comfort, but all true knowledge of God (theology) is also ultimately meant to excite us to praise God (doxology). Every attribute we considered so far is a glorious reason to praise God. This verse reminds us of this truth. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort! He is worthy! God alone is to be adored and blessed! Suggestions for prayer Thank and praise God for Who He is, for the comfort you have received from Him in life. And pray that you will be able to comfort others by pointing them to the Lord when they need mercy and comfort. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 29 – God’s name is Jehovah

And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" - Exodus 3:14 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-15 These days, names don't mean much, but in Bible times the meanings of names were important. God's names are packed with meaning! They reveal something of God's glorious perfections. His most well-known name is Jehovah or Yahweh. God revealed this name to Moses at the burning bush. This name speaks about the perfections and actions of our Covenant-keeping God. It tells us about three unchanging things He always does for His people. Because He, the Great I AM, is Who He is, was and will be and in Jesus Christ, He is still the same, yesterday, today and forever! These are the three things: He is present with us - God assures Moses and His covenant people that He will be with them. In Christ, our Emmanuel, God promises to never leave or forsake us. He protects us - God assures Moses that He has heard the cries of His people and He will bring them in safety to the promised land. In the greater Exodus in Christ, God will lead us out of all sin, slavery and oppression, bringing us to the Promised land where we will enjoy eternal protection. He provides for us – God showed, all through the wilderness wanderings, that He provided for His people, even when they did not deserve it at all! God's merciful provision in Christ, through the wilderness of this world, is guaranteed! In Christ, we are kept unto salvation. Why? Because God is the I AM WHO I AM! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for being Who He is, in Christ, as the Great I AM and especially His commitment to being present, protecting and providing for His people by promise and covenant. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 28 – God is unchangeable

For I am the LORD, I do not change: therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. - Mal 3:6 Scripture reading: Mal 3:1-7a God does not change, that is God in His being is never increasing or decreasing. His being, attributes and will are unchanging. Coming closer to the end of this month, we are confronted with ongoing change. What a comfort to know that everything about God never changes! God is completely dependable; He is stable like a Rock, while we are more like the ever-changing waters of the ocean. A.W. Pink shows how comforting this really is, "However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not." If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But all praise to His glorious name. He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will is stable and His word is sure." And what is even more comforting, is that when we are in Christ by faith, our salvation doesn't change either! Malachi shows that despite the fickleness and fraud of God's people, God is faithfully and patiently inviting their repentance; that's why they are not consumed. James, in 1:17, shows that every truly good gift comes from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning. We all know shadows are turning all the time as our planet keeps moving, but God never changes.  Through Christ alone, THE greatest Gift of all, God provides true stability for our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His unchanging character and wonderful dependability. Pray that knowing Him as such would translate in great and unwavering trust and stability in our lives. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 27 – God is glorious

...so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. - 2 Chronicles 5:14 Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 5:2-6:2 The word glory in the Old Testament is a word that means weightiness. In the New Testament, it has more the idea of brilliance and splendour. So, when we say that God is glorious, we mean His splendour and beautiful brilliance shines from His whole being, including His honourable reputation. In our text, the glory of God fills Solomon's temple. This was not the first time that God appeared to His people in His Shekinah glory cloud. Every time God appeared, it was a weighty and serious matter as the priests did not even dare to enter the temple, because He is so majestically glorious! In the New Testament, knowing God and being in His presence was weighty and serious (Hebrews 12:28-29). However, now we experience God's presence and glory through Jesus Christ. Paul shows that the glory of God shines in our dark hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). That's how our bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit in which God is worshipped and glorified (1 Corinthians 6:19). Contrary to our expectation, being filled with God's glory is often accompanied by personal weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) or suffering for Christ's name (1 Peter 4:14)! That makes living for God's glory still weighty and serious! Nonetheless, our comfort and hope are that the Lord of hosts will be like a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to all believers, one glorious day! (Isaiah 28:5). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's glory and presence with us will be our greatest concern and comfort in life and that we don't think mistakenly that His glory is not with us when we are weak or suffering. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 26 – God is beautiful

One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. - Psalm 27:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 27 Although the fact that God is beautiful might be strictly speaking more of an experiential reality than an attribute of God, it still shows us something of Who God is. We could say that God's beauty is an offshoot of God's goodness and/or holiness. For not only did God create our physical universe in such a way that everything sparkles with unique beauty, but especially in worship we are expected to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. The deep longing of David is to be close to God, for he knows that when we are intimate with God we experience the loveliness and comfort of His glorious character. We can study God's character factually, but this verse calls us to know Him with our whole being, both mind and heart experiencing His favour, His closeness and relishing in His loveliness. How important for us to know this experiential reality! So, let's ask ourselves today, "Do I know this experiential reality in which God is lovely, desirable, and beautiful to me?" If not, is it perhaps because we are not seeking Him with singleness of heart and focus? Ask Him to be close today! If we do, then let's praise God and let's treasure His beauty! God promised one day believers will see the King (our precious Lord Jesus) in His beauty with our very eyes (Isaiah 33:17). Now we see Him only by faith, but then we will see Him face to face treasuring Him in His temple forever (1 John 3:2). Suggestions for prayer Moses asked the Lord to show His glory. Let us ask today for God to show His beauty to our hearts. Thank God for the hope of the Gospel for all believers, who will one day see Jesus, the King in His beauty, face to face. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 25 – God is perfect

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. - Matthew 5:48 Scripture reading: Matthew 5:37-48 Jesus never shied away from confronting us with God's perfect moral standard. In this text, He requires perfection. The reason for this, according to Jesus, is because your Father in heaven is perfect! Think about it, God is complete, faultless and totally sufficient in every aspect of Himself; His Being is perfect. His ways, words, laws, and desires are perfect. His knowledge and wisdom are perfect. He is impeccable! One of the glorious ways in which God's perfection is shown is that He patiently allows rebellious sinners to enjoy His generosity. He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Even when they try to fault God, their attempts tragically show they are blinded to the glory of God's perfection. That's because they are blinded to the glory of God's Son and to their own imperfections. God's powerful remedy is opening our eyes to the glory of Christ, the only Mediator our High Priest. Hebrews states about Him, "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; (…)  for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." (Hebrews 7:26-28). Christ offered Himself up for rebels, such as we are by nature. Will we by the power of His Spirit, mirror His generosity towards rebellious and blind sinners around us? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and I may reflect more of God's perfect character through the power of His Holy Spirit living in us. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 24 – God is wrathful

God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked. - Nahum 1:2-3a Scripture reading: Nahum 1 God's love for His people as well as His holy hatred and revulsion for sin, together with His righteous desire for justice, requires that the Lord will punish all evil and evildoers. Though God is slow to anger, all the wicked, unbelievers and unrepentant sinners will be punished. None will escape His wrath. It is reserved and stored up for His enemies. Nahum prophesied against Nineveh, years after Jonah saw them repent. They had returned right back to their violent sins and immoral wickedness. When we look around at world powers and governments promoting wickedness, we see similar things. Though God still patiently allows much evil, one day His wrath over sin will be poured out. Our comfort is that He will punish all evil at a global scale for everyone who ever lived. Eternal shame, reproach and wrath will be heaped upon those who have not seriously sought to escape His wrath by fleeing to and trusting in Jesus Christ. Micah asks, "Who can endure the fierceness of His anger?" (vs. 6). Obviously none! Please let the consequences of God's wrath sink in for a moment - eternal damnation. Knowing this, would anyone want anyone else to endure God's eternal wrath? Shouldn't our feet skip over the mountains of impossibilities to bring the good tidings of the Gospel, proclaiming peace through Jesus Christ? (vs. 15). Paul allowed the wrath of God, together with Christ's love to motivate him in evangelism (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10-14). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give us a burden for souls who are not saved. When we feel intimidated by evangelism, pray for boldness and opportunities to reach the lost and God's empowering Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 23 – God is jealous

For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. – Exodus 34:14 Scripture reading: Exodus 34:1-17 When we read God's law, we can hear that God is jealous. But have we ever stopped to consider what this means? Some people wonder how God can hate people while He is love. We need to recognize that God does not love all people in the same way. Those who are in covenant to Him by faith, are the ones He loves with a special love. Their devotion to Him, He guards jealously. He expects believers to be faithful, loyal, loving and continually learning about Him and His glory. However, often His people are shown to be covenant-breakers, as we see in the context of our text. This comes right after the episode with the golden calf. Yet, as Moses desired to see God's glory, the Lord graciously granted Moses' request. This not only reveals God's glorious name (vs 6-7), but He adds, "My name is Jealous!" (vs. 17). We recognize that this is a good thing because this is the passionate zeal that guards the exclusivity of the marriage covenant between God and His people. Jealousy evokes anger against an unfaithful spouse. God demands and desires our total commitment and surrender to Him and His glory. No spiritual adultery! Of ourselves, we are covenant-breakers; this is seen in Joshua 24:19. However, God by His Spirit, and through the ministry of His servants, will jealously guard the relationship to betroth us unto one husband, so that we may be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:2). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the fact that His name is Jealous and pray that He will guard your relationship with Him jealously so that you can enjoy more of the love of Christ in your life. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 22 – God is just

For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. - Deuteronomy 32:3-4 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 32:1-18 God's justice means God gives us only and always strictly what we deserve. Justice is a glorious attribute which, on the one hand, can be very comforting, but, on the other hand, can make us tremble. It can be very comforting when we (have) experienced abuse, injustice and are hurt by the sins of others, or when we groan about the results of our fall into sin. At Sodom's destruction, Abraham was comforted by this thought, "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Meanwhile, it can make us tremble to think what would happen if God would give us sinners perfect justice. It would mean that you and I would be enduring the destructive fires of God's wrath in hell; none of us are exempt. We know everything God does is perfect; His judgments are perfect! He is truth-filled and without any injustice. Yet, perhaps you wonder, how can we rejoice in and celebrate God's glorious justice? We can when, like Lot, we flee out of sinful Sodom to Zoar, or to echo our text, when we flee to the Rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ! On Golgotha, He received the just punishment we deserve for our sin. Now He can be both just and the Justifier of those who believe in Him. That's perfectly satisfying justice! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His satisfied justice in Christ. Pray that we would not forget this, especially in times when we feel entitled, discontent, and are tempted to grumble, or slow to leave our sins. Christ paid dearly to earn justice exalting God's mercy. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 21 – God is righteous

I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain'; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. – Isaiah 45:19 Scripture reading: Isaiah 45:15-25 What is righteousness? It is doing things in harmony with God's standard. What is God's righteousness? It is the perfection of God whereby He always acts perfectly consistent with His laws and spoken words. In our text, Isaiah says that God's people will not seek Him in vain! If God says that He allows Himself to be found by us (Isaiah 55:6), then He will indeed reveal Himself to us when we seek Him. But the opposite is true too. God says in vs. 16, if someone continues to serve idols, shame, disgrace and confusion are awaiting them. When God commands all the ends of the earth to look to Him so they will be saved because there is no other God, His righteousness demands that He will save us when we indeed look to Him for that salvation. (vs. 22). In chapter 46:12-13 the Lord says, "Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, who are far from righteousness: I will bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off. My Salvation shall not linger." This is the Gospel! God brings salvation and righteousness near through Jesus Christ, even to the stubborn-hearted and those living far from God! When we bow our knee to Him, we will confess, "Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength!" (45:25). In Jesus, the perfectly Righteous Savior, God Himself comes close, fulfils the law, imputes righteousness and teaches us to live righteously! Are we daily seeking God's kingdom and righteousness in Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to make God's Kingdom and His righteousness the first priority in your life. Pray that we may more deeply learn of the glory that God is righteous (consistently dependable) and gives righteousness in Jesus Christ. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 20 – God is merciful

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. – Micah 7:18 Scripture reading: Micah 7:14-20 Micah the prophet, was called to expose the sins of the people. As a good lawyer, Micah thoroughly prosecuted the people of God on the Lord's behalf. He confronted their despicable sins: fraud, hypocrisy, greed, injustice, extortion and lying. But as is often the case, God's people did not want to budge. He tells them judgment will come if they persist! Yet, Micah does not leave God's people hopeless. In the last verses of his prophecy, he focuses their attention on God. He reminds the people by asking a rhetorical question, "Who is a God like You?!" If you come and confess your sin and humble yourselves before the Lord, know there is no God like ours! He pardons iniquity. He passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage. To those who truly know Him through faith and ongoing repentance, He does not retain His anger forever! He forgives like no one and nothing else! Completely and comprehensively! Why? Because our God delights in mercy! He is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. He keeps His side of the covenant, even when His people break their side of the covenant, by their wicked sins! They may return, trusting that He is not stingy, nor reluctant but happy, delighting to forgive their sins. Why? Because of what Jesus did on the cross. It pleased God to bruise Him, and delight in mercy towards repentant sinners. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He, for Christ's sake, delights in mercy. And let's be humbly grateful that God found pleasure in bruising His precious Son, in order to show us how expensive mercy really is to Him. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 19 – God is patient

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:3-13 God is patient! The fact that this world still exists in spite of all the wickedness that takes place, shows God's patience. Our smallest sin is infinitely despicable in God's eyes. This shows God's patience because our sins are committed against the infinitely high and holy Lord God. The fact that the Lord forgives His children even when at times we still fall into sin, failing to honour Him, shows God is patient. This world will one day end with judgement. Glory is awaiting all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ. A world on which righteousness dwells is promised to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Mockers, on the one hand, say, "Why didn't God fulfil His promise yet." Believers, on the other hand, stand in awe, "How can God tolerate so much sin?" Peter reminds us that the Lord is not slow to fulfil His promises. Peter writes, But the Lord is patient! He is not willing that any should perish. God is still bringing in the lost. He will continue to bring sinners to gracious repentance until the end, because He is patient! He assures us that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked! If you think God is ready to give up on you, remember His patience! If you think you are beyond hope and your sin too great, remember God shows His patience so that you come to Him in repentance. Remember, God is slow to anger! Suggestions for prayer Pray for awe for such patience with yourself and our dark world. Pray that we would not lose sight of God's amazing patience, but that many would come to repentance. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 18 – God is good

So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God." - Luke 18:19 Scripture reading: Luke 18:18-30 Jesus challenged the rich young ruler because it looked as if this man wanted to be commended by Him. If I call Him good Teacher, he thought, Jesus might call me good too. This man knew nothing about Jesus' perfections because he was puffed up about his own. He felt he was doing surprisingly well. This happens when we are blind to the spiritual nature and inflexible standard of God's law. The law is good, because God is good. And the law reflects God's character. "Everything that can be genuinely defined as good, is in some way, a reflection of God's character" Brad Hambrick wrote. When Jesus asks, "Why do you call me good?" He is not asserting that He is not good, but is testing to see if this man has any idea how good He really is and whether this man understands Who He really is. Jesus says, "No one is good but One, that is God!" We all know Jesus is God and therefore He is good! He alone kept the law perfectly. When Jesus confronts the rich young ruler with real goodness, gaining true riches in heaven instead of treasures on earth, this man went away sorrowful because he did not understand his covetous heart. Would you have stayed and followed Jesus? Or does all the goodness of this world eclipse the true goodness of God in your life? If so then you are no different from the rich young ruler. Oh, that you would have eyes to see God's goodness today! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's goodness in our lives would not be eclipsed in any way by our inflated view of our own goodness. Instead pray that we would know God's goodness, through Christ our perfect law keeper. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 17 – God is love

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-21 Many define love as a warm and fuzzy feeling. Is that true about God's love? No, God's love is about an unwavering commitment He has in His own blessed being, from eternity. God's love is visible in everything He does! Love starts in Himself; The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, in love through the Holy Spirit. God's sheer love motivated Him to create. His overflowing love poured into all of creation. It's God's love that motivated Him to make such a glorious world, such perfect creatures, able to enjoy and share His love. Tragedy struck when God's love was rejected in our Fall. Think about God's just wrath over sin; it's actually our rejection of His eternal, overflowing and fully satisfying love. Yet, sin did not stop God from loving sinners, verse 10 says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins." Or, as in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus' death, bloody sacrifice, perfect obedience to His Father's will, are all manifestations of God's love to loveless sinners. God's love is still first, "We love Him because He first loved us" (vs. 19). And His love in us cannot but be poured into other lives, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (vs. 11). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will relish more in God's love shown in creation and Christ and that His unfathomable love might motivate you in everything you do today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 16 – God is holy

And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" – Isaiah 6:3 Scripture reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 This verse gives us a glimpse of heaven. Immediately, we are struck by glorious angels exalting God's holiness. No other attribute is repeated three times in Scripture as His holiness is. This is significant! Is it because God's holiness in His radiant beauty perhaps best describes Who He really is? Trying to define His holiness is not so easy. We can say holy means "to be set apart", and "utterly pure, separated from sin." But unfortunately, unlike these angels, we can say that, without being impressed by God's sheer otherness and infinite purity. Strikingly, when these sinless creatures exalt the Lord for His holiness, it humbles them! They cover their faces, they cover their feet, and fly with the other set of wings. What a lesson for us! Seeing something of God's holiness made Isaiah tremble and become acutely aware of his own sinfulness. And so will we! We will cry out with Isaiah, "I am undone - unravelling!" But at the same time, it prepares us to seek God's glory in this world. For when the Lord asked, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Isaiah eagerly answered, "Here am I, send me!" Looking to these holy angels to learn about holiness is good and necessary. But, looking to Jesus, our perfect High Priest, is better! For it is His holiness these angels exalt! Jesus, higher than the heavens, is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners! He approaches God on our behalf! That's good news for unholy sinners! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God's holiness would grip you, supplying fresh appreciation for Christ and make you desirous to spread God's gospel and glory in this world. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 15 – God is faithful

Great is Your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:23b  Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:22-25 In preparation, I read this question, "How many people do you know who, no matter what the circumstances and no matter how they feel, will always do exactly what they say they will do every single time, (...) With the same thoroughness and perfection that you never have to worry about anything they say or do, because you know if they say it, they will definitely do it without fail, without change and without excuse?" That is what we mean with faithfulness! Not to be found in man, but found perfectly in God! Jeremiah, who sat upon the smoking heap of Jerusalem's ruins, knew that God was faithful! God had warned His people over and over not to continue in their sin. Yet, they would not hear! He threatened them over and over that if they would continue, God would allow Jerusalem to be ruined, the land to be forsaken, and His people to be exiled. God faithfully kept His promise to punish His unfaithful people. William Hendriksen observes, "Divine faithfulness is a wonderful comfort to those who are loyal. It is a very earnest warning for those who might be inclined to become disloyal." Jeremiah knew it firsthand, on top of the rubble... Deeply aware of what he really deserved, namely a total wipe-out (vs.22). Yet, he celebrates God's compassionate faithfulness toward himself and his people! Every morning he still saw new mercies! Undeserved! (vs.23). Can you see them too, especially when you consider your own daily unfaithfulness? Suggestions for prayer Consider and confess your unfaithfulness and God's faithful mercies. Thank God for Christ's faithful obedience, even unto death, to cover your unfaithfulness (1 John 1:9). Pray that you would serve the Lord faithfully today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 14 – God is true

God, who cannot lie, promised before time began... - Titus 1:2b Scripture reading: Titus 1:1-4 Paul wrote to Titus who was in a culture similar to ours, a culture of lies, in which appearance and popularity are valued over truth and faithfulness. We are surrounded by fake news, empty promises and by science (falsely-so-called). How confusing that can be. But blessed be the Lord, there is not the slightest hint of untruth in God Himself! Paul reminds Titus and us that God is the God Who cannot lie! He is the God of absolute truth! In the Old Testament, the Lord often revealed Himself as the God of truth (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Promises made before creation will be fulfilled. He kept each one of His promises concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. Truly, His promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ! Jesus said about Himself, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." He is not only saying that He is trustworthy, and the Source of all Truth, but rather that He is the embodiment of Truth! When Jesus stood before Pilate, a lying judge, about to suffer for speaking nothing but the truth, He confessed a good confession when He said, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Will you listen to His voice today, following His truth, even when it painfully exposes our lies? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His truth! Let us also pray that the Truth of Jesus will set us more and more free, that we would be truth-seekers and truth-tellers, and filled with God's Spirit of Truth, in a world of lies. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 13 – God is wise

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. – Daniel 2:20b Scripture reading: Daniel 2:14-23 Yesterday, we considered that God knows all things perfectly. But there is more to God's knowledge.  He uses His perfect knowledge of everything for the very best purposes, with the very best means possible, for His greatest glory and our greatest good! That is His wisdom! 100% trustworthy! The Lord makes His knowledge and wisdom available to us. He did so with Daniel so that lives would be spared and the king's dream could be explained. It brought Daniel to humble adoration, for the Lord is the Source of all wisdom! God's wisdom is not only seen in how He governs the world and upholds creation, but especially in how He designed His marvellous plan of salvation! Who could ever have thought about a world like ours? But even more so, who could ever have thought about a plan of salvation in which both justice and mercy are fully satisfied, and wretched sinners are saved to the uttermost? What unfathomable wisdom it is that the cross, (which is considered foolishness by many, and a stumbling block to others), is the place where God shows His wisdom, by crucifying Christ, God's Wisdom, in order to save fools! Truly, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the wisest person on earth! (1 Corinthians 1:20-31). Let us, like Daniel, adore God's breath-taking wisdom wherever we see it in His creation, in His providence and most of all in His wonderful salvation! Let us trust His wisdom, even when we don't understand it. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His wisdom, especially for the wisdom shown in the Gospel. Also, pray for the grace to trust His Wisdom especially in times when you don't understand what He is doing in your life. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 12 – God is all-knowing

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! - Psalm 139:17 Scripture reading: Psalm 139:11-24 We finite creatures never stop learning, unless we are too proud to learn anything new. But think about it, "There is no limit to what God knows, and there is nothing He needs to learn!" The Psalmist shows us that dark and light do not make a difference to God. Nothing escapes His knowledge. For Him, the night shines as the day! He does not only know the universe in its endless complexity, the greatest marvel is that He knows us! When you and I were created and formed, nothing escaped His attention. He knew us in the most perfect way. When His Almighty power shaped our unformed substance, there was nothing that escaped His attention. Indeed, How great is the sum of God's thoughts! God's knowledge of us, should make us honest and repentant before God, like the Psalmist, who says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart… and see if there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting." Let's never forget, He knows what you do at school, at your job, whether doors are open or closed, whether you are behind your screen, or behind another machine. He even knows your and my thoughts, anxieties and sins. He knows us, sees us, even when we might think nobody sees us. This is only comforting to us when we know and trust Christ's saving power and Christ's knowledge of us. Then we say, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!" Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His thoughts toward you, that He knows you. Pray you may learn more of His thoughts toward you in Christ, and that His thoughts might become ever more marvelous and precious to you. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 11 – God is every-where present

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? – Psalm 139:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 139:1-10 The Puritan Stephen Charnock, wrote, "Innumerable worlds cannot be a sufficient place to contain God; He can only be a sufficient place to Himself." That's the reality of God being everywhere present! He is in constant touch with the universe He created. He is present on our planet, in the sky, in space, in heaven and in hell. But still, God is greater; He is beyond everything created. We realize that God is not present everywhere in the same way. In hell, for instance, He is present with His judging power and in creation with His upholding power. Yet, there is nothing better than His special and favourable presence with us when His hand leads us and His powerful right-hand holds us. In the Old Testament, God was present through His Shekinah glory cloud filling the tabernacle. But in the New Testament, that glory cloud hovered over His Son, as He came to be graciously and truthfully present with us when He pitched His tabernacle among us (John 1:14). After Pentecost, His glory cloud still fills His temple, God's people. Through His Spirit, we can daily enjoy His favourable presence. God's Spiritual presence is so rich. He visits us when we are lonely, showing us our comforts in Christ. How we need a greater sense of His presence! Not just for our comfort, but especially in moments of temptation, so that we would say with Joseph, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Suggestions for prayer Thank God for Jesus, Who is God with us! Pray that you may be reminded of and comforted more by the presence of God's Holy Spirit and that His presence would guard you against sin and temptation, today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 10 – God is sovereign

For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us. - Isaiah 33:22   Scripture reading: Isaiah 33:13-24 Our government has a division of powers. Generally, a person is not a judge, lawmaker and prime minister or president all at once. Sinners who have all these three tasks, generally end up dictators. Not so with God! When we say God is sovereign, we mean He has all authority. He is our righteous Judge, Who decides, based on His tailor-made laws, how everything should be ordered in His Kingdom, for His glory and for our good. None can resist His will; none can do anything He has not ordained. Our problem, since our Fall in Paradise, is that we are law-breakers by trade; we have rebelled against His rule in our lives and He must judge us for our sins! Our Lord as Judge, Lawgiver and King will never make mistakes. He will be perfectly righteous and just. Abraham was certain, when he said, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). The short answer is, "He will!" Yet, our King, Lawgiver and Judge is also perfectly merciful! Our text shows He will save us! Salvation is through Christ, Who had God's law perfectly written on His heart. He is able to save lawbreakers! Jesus Himself, Who has all authority in heaven and earth, died on the cross and rose again and can therefore pardon rebels like us. Jesus will judge! Because He was treated as the criminal and traded places with Barabases (cf. Luke 23:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21), He liberates us through His glorious Kingship! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His sovereign justice and mercy! Thank God for Christ and the Gospel. Pray that you will enter His glorious Kingdom by faith and that He will write His law upon your heart today (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 10:16), ruling you by His Holy Spirit, until you see Jesus as your Savior and Judge. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 9 – God is all-powerful

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. – Isaiah 40:26 Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:25-31 Just consider for a moment, God created 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. And as far as we know, there are probably 125 billion galaxies in the universe. In this text, we are invited to look up and consider, not just the incredible number of stars, but especially the Creator Who counts each one of them, and more astonishingly has names for each of them! (cf. Psalm 147:4). Now, the creation of stars shows God's incredible power! But let's not forget that they are just a fragment of God's power on display in creation. He also created everything else, from the tiniest molecule to the greatest mountain. He is All-powerful! Are we able to measure the waters of this world in the hollow of our hand? Are we able to weigh the mountains in a balance? (Isaiah 40:12). God is! He didn't grow weary or faint when He created everything. Nothing can ever wear out His strength! Let us be astonished about His All-mighty power! The truth is, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). That doesn't mean that He will do everything we want. We know He does everything for His glory and our good. Still, it does mean that He can, if He so desires, do everything we ask for. The fact that you and I feel weak or weary doesn't hinder Him in the least! He is able to renew our strength. Let's wait upon Him in prayer (vs. 29-31 cf. Ephesians 3:20). Suggestions for prayer Let's keep in mind that when we pray to God, that nothing is too hard, too complicated or too strong for Him. But at the same time let us submit to His powerful will for our lives. He does all things for His glory and our good! Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 8 – God is infinite

But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! – 2 Chronicles 6:18 Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 6:12-21 Think about this: God is beyond measurements! We cannot define Him by size or amount like we do with ourselves. We measure our length and weight; there are boundaries to each one of us.  But God has no limits! When Solomon built a temple for the Lord, his prayer shows that he was acutely aware of the fact that a temple could never contain our immense God. Even God's own throne room cannot limit God. When we think about God's infinity, it is not just the fact that God is infinite in His dimensions. No, His infinity defines every other attribute of God! And how encouraging this is because our greatest problem is that, by nature, we are sinners against our infinitely holy God. Matthew Mead, a Puritan, shows us the comfort of the Gospel and how that links to God's infinity: Alas! It is an infinite righteousness that must satisfy for our sins, for it is an infinite God that is offended by us. If ever your sin be pardoned, it is infinite mercy that must pardon it; if ever you be reconciled to God, it is infinite merit must do it; if ever your heart be changed, and your soul renewed, it is infinite power must effect it; and if ever your soul escape hell, and be saved at last, it is infinite grace must save it. Such grace should make us infinitely thankful when we enter the infinity of eternity. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for infinite grace and mercy, and let us humble ourselves, trusting that Christ took the infinite wrath of God on our behalf, as our sins are infinitely offensive to our infinite God. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 7 – God is eternal

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. – 2 Peter 3:8 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:1-13 God lives in an eternal present! For God, there is no past or future. He knows our yesterdays in the same way He knows our tomorrows. Peter reminds us that one day with God is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. He not only knows everything in His eternal present, He exists in this eternal present. He cannot be captured in terms of our time. He is the great I AM! Time began to exist when He created us. Before that, there was no time. Mind-boggling! Amazingly, He still gives us time to repent and trust in His Son, offering us eternal life! When we do not use our time to repent of our sins, we face the eternal fire of hell. There, those who refused to serve God will face His eternal wrath. Eternal death will not only feel like slow time, just as going through suffering always seems to take long, but worse, it will never end. What mercy that God still calls sinners to repentance, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! When we do repent, or have done so, we may be certain that our times are in His hands. That's why Peter also writes about the promised new heaven and earth upon which righteousness dwells. What hope we have in Christ! We will enjoy God's favourable presence forever! Believer, what bliss awaits us! Suggestions for prayer Let us thank and praise the Lord for the promise of eternal life through Christ. Let us also intercede for the unsaved, realizing that they are awaiting eternal misery unless they repent. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 6 – God is self-existent

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:36 Scripture reading: Romans 11:33-12:2 When Paul stood on the Areopagus and spoke to the Athenians, he showed them that God is self-existent. He told them that He doesn't live in a temple made with hands, nor is He worshipped by us as though He needs something. In other words, Paul showed that God has never ever been in need! When He created us and the world, it did not change God in His essence. He doesn't need us. This humbles us and when we understand this, it also puts us in our rightful place. Paul shows in Romans 11, that God is the source of all things; all things are of Him, that is, created by Him. Secondly, all things are through Him; He is the means by which everything comes into being. And all things are to Him; that means, He is the goal of everything in this world. In other words, everything originates in God, was made by God, and is to manifest His glory. In light of God's self-existence,  we realize that we cannot twist God's arm. He doesn't need us, we need Him! It makes us realize how different God is from us, especially when we stare our own puniness and neediness in the face. Therefore, this God comes to us today and calls us with the Athenians and every man everywhere to repent! Why? Don't we too often proudly think that we can do without this God or that we are self-sufficient while only God is? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for needing nothing, not even us. Repent from every form of pride and self-sufficiency. Pray for greater dependency on Him and humility toward Him. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 5 – God is transcendent

The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high? – Psalm 113:4-5 Scripture reading: Psalm 113 God is transcendent. You might wonder what that means. It means that God exists above and independent from anything and everything in our universe. In our text, it says, "He is above the nation; and the heavens; there is no God like Him, who dwells on High!" God is transcendent, that means He is exalted above everything. When we learn that God is transcendent, we realize that God should be worshipped with reverence and godly fear! We should not worship Him flippantly, but rather with great respect for Him, because He is so far beyond us and anything created which we see around us. God is transcendent, and yet we marvel that God is not unconcerned about His creatures and His creation!  He is also immanent, being very close to and caring for His creatures, especially for His own. Psalm 113 shows this very clearly. On the one hand, God is high, exalted, above and beyond anything and everything. Think about it: God even has to humble Himself to see the things that are taking place on this earth! And yet, as He humbles Himself, He looks in compassion on His creatures, raising the poor from the dust, lifting the needy out of the ash heap and granting motherhood to the barren. This is our God! Gloriously transcendent, yet preciously immanent, because of our Savior Jesus, Who came close to us when He dwelt among us. Praise the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is above everything and anything else, yet, that He is so gracious to humble Himself to see our need. Thank Him especially for sending His Son to show that He is near.  Pray for His nearness to you today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 4 – God is triune

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen. – 2 Corinthians 13:14 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:13-17 The fact that God is Triune, is strictly speaking not an attribute. However, we cannot know God properly when we don't understand that God is Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet truly One God. Our minds again are stretched when we think about God as Three and yet One. We often distinguish His blessed Persons, for instance, when we say that the Father chose His people from eternity, the Son came and redeemed sinners like us by living, dying and rising from the dead, and that the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us, changing and transforming us. And yet, these three Persons are One God! Salvation is of the One, Only True and Triune God! When we think about and pray to, or meditate about God, it is easier to do so One Person at a time. But an important question to ponder is, "How should we understand God's Tri-unity?" Jonathan Edwards, a great Puritan theologian, probably understood this best. This is what he believed about the Trinity: God the Father is God in an absolute manner, while the Son is generated by God's self-understanding or idea about Himself, and the Holy Spirit is His infinite love that freely flows to Himself. How glorious God is! He knows Himself perfectly in His Son, and He loves Himself perfectly in the Holy Spirit! And this is the God Who has been pleased to love and know us through His Son, in the powerful love of the Holy Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being Triune, relational in Himself, knowing and loving Himself. Pray that you may know Him better and love Him more, as your loving Father, blessed Savior, in the satisfying fellowship of His Holy Spirit. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 3 – God is Spirit

God is Spirit: and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. - John 4:24 Scripture reading: John 4:15-26 We all have both a body and a spirit. There is something invisible in each one of us. We see that most strikingly when a loved one dies. The body is still there, but the spirit is not. How tragic and devastating is the result of sin. So, death, among other things, teaches us for a fact that we all have a spirit. In our text, God says that He Himself is Spirit. He is pure Spirit. He doesn't have a body. Yet, He shows Himself to us. How is that possible? Through His Word, we read about glorious appearances to both sinners and saints. When still in Paradise, God's Spirit spoke directly to Adam's spirit. This glorious, intimate and spiritual connection was ruined by our Fall into sin. As a result, by nature, we are all spiritually like a dead, lifeless body. But God came to restore our lost relationship! How? At Christmas, God, Who is eternal and a pure Spirit, took upon Himself a body, taking the place of guilty and spiritually dead sinners, ultimately by experiencing forsakenness of God. That's how we can have an intimate relationship with God again. Now, He speaks to us through His Word, by His Spirit and we pray to Him again. But most amazing is that, in salvation, our glorious God dwells with His Spirit in every believer! That's the only reason why you and I can worship Him, in spirit and truth. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for being a Spirit, who through Christ and His Holy Spirit is able to communicate to our spirit. Pray that the Lord will nourish your spiritual relationship with Him today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

January 2 – God is simple

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." - Exodus 34:6-7 Scripture reading: Exodus 33:17-23 & 34:5-7 Perhaps you have never heard about the fact that God is simple. However, in order to know God, it is important to understand what this means. It doesn't mean that God is unintelligent or foolish, of course, nor does it mean that it is easy to understand God. So, when we say that God is simple, we mean that He is not the compound of all His attributes. In our text, God is not partly merciful, partly gracious, partly longsuffering, partly good and that all these different attributes partly make up God. God is not merely good, instead, He is goodness Himself. He defines goodness, grace and mercy by His perfect and undivided Being! He is entirely loving, entirely merciful, entirely just, and so forth. Therefore, we can legitimately say that His goodness is His love, His love is His mercy, His grace is His justice and His love is His holy jealousy. God's grace and mercy in forgiving our iniquity are not in opposition to, or of lesser importance than the fact that He visits sinners and does not clear their guilt when they continue in sin. Knowing this will minister either comfort or conviction to our soul, depending on our relationship with God. It's difficult to wrap our minds around this concept. This is His glory! His justice, righteousness and holiness are in no way opposites to His mercy, grace and love! God is one simple or united, perfect Being, full of blessedness! Suggestions for prayer Worship the Lord for His undivided Being and pray for an undivided heart to serve Him. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. 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 January

What a blessing it is to be able to begin another year together! For many of us, new beginnings can be unsettling. We don't know what this year will bring. We might have a sense of anticipation, or perhaps as we think ahead or look around, we might have a sense of foreboding. How we need, therefore, to turn our gaze upward to God! As Jeremiah 9:23-24 shows, our natural inclination is to find security and stability in our own wisdom, might or riches! That wouldn't be a good beginning of the New Year! When we trust in these things, our sense of foreboding is not surprising. These things are a rather shaky foundation for a New Year. What then do we need? The answer is not overly complicated. It is this: we need to know our God! In the same chapter, Jeremiah answers that question for us when he says, "But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD." When you and I know our God, we have a solid beginning for the New Year. So for this first month, we would like to behold our God! That is, we will consider His glorious attributes and Who He is. This month's theme is taken from the very first words of the Bible: "In the beginning God…" Only when God is first in our lives, we will have a good beginning of 2021. January 1 – In the beginning, God In the beginning God… - Genesis 1:1a Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-2 & Psalm 90:1-2 Can you think about nothing? Completely nothing? That's hard, isn't it? To think about eternity, when there was no time, there were no clouds, no water, no plants, no animals, no planet and no people. But as our text shows, in the beginning, there was nothing except for God! He has always been there. He has no beginning and no end. Before there was anything, there was nothing else but God. But even that is more than we can wrap our minds around. Who is God? We cannot see Him or touch Him. And yet He is there! He's always been there. When we begin a New Year, it is very important to know that God was there before anything else was.  He has been there from eternity. Everything that we see around us and that happens to us comes from God's eternal mind. Apart from Him, we cannot even lift a finger. Apart from Him, we cannot go into a New Year. Apart from Him, we would have reason to be full of fear about what could happen to us in 2021. But Jesus tells us that not a hair can fall from our head without the will of our heavenly Father. Paul shows the Athenians that in Him we move and live and have our being. Because God is, therefore we are! Therefore, remember what will happen to us is determined in God's eternal mind from eternity. Nothing in life is happenstance, because God is! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that God's Word is teaching us that nothing this coming year will happen outside His control. Pray that the knowledge of God would more deeply influence what we do and think. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek has been serving the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville since 2017. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 31 – Time and eternity

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 At the end of another year, it is time to look back and look ahead. We want to do this with wisdom. Looking back, let us acknowledge thankfully that God has filled our hearts and lives and this world with beauty. There has been the beauty of the changing seasons, of majestic mountains and flowing rivers, of the love of family and friends, and of seeing God at work within us and among us. As the year ends, may God help us to banish dark thoughts, regrets and complaints. Instead confess the truth that,  "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Christians have the blessed hope of everlasting life in Christ. We are promised an eternity, which God has placed in our hearts, an eternity of fellowship with God forever! You can close the books on 2020 and look forward, not just to a year ahead, but to eternity in the blessed assurance that Jesus Christ is your Lord of life forever. Time in the Lord's care is beautiful. Eternity is secure and yet, there is a mystery to God's plan. We cannot fully understand all of God's ways, nor can we see into the future. Yet, this we know with confidence our sovereign God is working out His good and wise plan for our lives and at last we will have an eternity to praise and glorify Him for His great salvation! We end the year with thanks, with faith in God's promises, with hope in His plan for us, now and for all time and eternity! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will fill your heart with thankfulness for blessings received. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the beauty of His plan, His purpose and His world. Pray for faith to face the future with confidence. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 30 – Till the end

For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:14 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3 What is the greatest blessing you received in 2020? The list is long: health, strength, the love of family and friends, food on the table and on it goes. At the top of the list must be all that you share in Christ: forgiveness, peace with God, hope for the future, life eternal. This was the blessing experienced by the Hebrew Christians, and by God's grace, we experience it too. Our text tells us there is a necessary condition, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. Good starts are great, but they are not enough. God calls us to persevere in faith to the end. This year may have started well for you. During the year there were challenges, difficulties and victories, but how are you ending the year? The Lord calls upon you to live up to your Christian duty, to live by faith as a covenant keeper, not just for a day, not just for a week, but to the end. We enjoy the sweet blessings of the Lord, if we hold fast to Him by faith. Even though not much seems firm and secure in today's world, let us hold firm by faith to our unchanging God. May that be your testimony, from first to last you dedicate yourself to the Lord. The end of another year is nearly here and the Lord has seen you through. Hold firm. Never waver. Never compromise the truth. Christian, hold firm to the end of not just another year, but of all your earthly journey! Suggestions for prayer Seek the upholding and guiding power of the Holy Spirit to keep you, your loved ones, and your church firm in the faith now and in the days ahead. Give thanks for all the blessings received in 2020. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 29 – Not one forsaken

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.... – Psalm 37:25a Scripture reading: Psalm 37:23-34 David begins this verse with reflection on the passing of time. How it flies! David was once a young shepherd boy. The time passed. As a teenager he slew the giant Goliath. More years went by. He became king and reigned 40 years in Jerusalem. Now he had become an old man. David, under God's inspiration, turned his mind to the past, and with wisdom he reflected on God's goodness to him and his people. He declared that he had not seen the righteous forsaken. Had not David seen times of trouble and anxiety? Of course he had. He had been persecuted by wicked King Saul. His son, Absalom, had rebelled against him. He experienced many trials. Yet, in all of this, as he looked back, David knew in his heart that the Lord had always been with him to uphold and protect him. Not once had the Lord forsaken him! As you look back on 2020, what are your memories? Oh yes, we all can remember struggles with sin, times of stress and problems that troubled us. As God's child, however, find strength in the words of our text, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken." With eyes of faith see that God has been with you every day of 2020, to give you spiritual strength, peace, pardon, and the guidance of His Word and Spirit, all that you needed. God has been with you every step of life's way in the past and He will be with you each day in times ahead. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to bless you with the wisdom you need to reflect upon the year past and recognize His love and care. Seek the assurance of faith that God will guide you in the future. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 28 – The time has come

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. – John 4:23 Scripture reading: John 4:7-26 The Samaritan woman lived in ignorance and sin. When Jesus arrived at Jacob's well, He had compassion on her and impressed upon her that the hour is now here. The time had come to seek fellowship with God, but not only for her. Here, the Lord is telling, not just the Samaritan woman, but also us, that it is the time for true worshipers to draw near to the Father through the saving work of His Son. Who are these true worshipers? They are those who worship in spirit and in truth. Those who worship in spirit offer to the Lord their inner being as a sacrifice of holiness. God has given you much time in 2020 to open your heart to the message of His Word. He has called you to holiness. Have you responded? Those who worship in truth, willingly leave behind their sinful human desires and opinions. Instead, they believe and obey the Word of the Lord, of which Jesus said, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Those who would draw near to God conform in heart, soul and life to the pure and full message of God's Word. Have you believed the truth? The end of an old year is a powerful reminder that time passes. The past is gone. In the present, God calls us to worship Him with praise, adoration and obedience. Before 2020 becomes history, may the Father see that you are a true worshiper. The hour has come for you to live before the Lord in spirit and in truth. Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom to seek and serve the Lord in spirit and truth. Ask that the experience of God's grace and mercy be yours before more time passes. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 27 – Christmas decoration

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. – Isaiah 53:2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 Many homes and churches are decorated at Christmas with beautiful plants. Poinsettias are pretty and popular. Christmas trees fill the air with fragrance. Are such decorative plants mentioned in the Bible? You know that the answer is “no.” The prophet Isaiah, however, does mention a plant in connection with the coming Messiah, The plant is not named. It is only described in our text as a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground. Through the words He gave to the prophet, God is teaching us that the birth of His Son was the start of the struggle of His ministry, the way a young plant struggles in dry ground. The beauty of Jesus Christ in His person and ministry was not outward. His was an inward beauty of soul, a majesty of the spirit. By earthly standards there was nothing to attract people to the Lord Jesus. Two days ago we celebrated Christmas. Who is Christ to you? What attracts you to Him? The glitter of Christmas decorations and majestic music bring some to a once-a-year service, but now that is over. For Christians, however, the true and lasting “decoration” at Christmas, spiritually speaking, is a struggling young plant, a root out of dry ground. It represents the suffering of the Lord, His humility, His willingness to offer Himself as our sacrifice. Jesus has come! Make sure that above all else you desire Him. May He alone be the focus of your heart and soul at worship this Lord's Day. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to work in the hearts of those who attended a Christmas service that they may respond to the Gospel. Give thanks for churches that focus on Christ and not on decorations. Be a living member of such a church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 26 – Jesus, our Emmanuel

... and they shall call his name Emmanuel (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23b Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 When babies are born they need to be given a name. Some parents choose a family name, a Bible name, or just some name they happen to like. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was different. Joseph already knew the name the Child was to receive. That name was “Jesus,” which means saviour. Yet, this holy Child received another name too, Emmanuel, according to the prophecy that God had given to Isaiah centuries before. It is a name which means “God with us.” Yesterday, we celebrated the birth of our Emmanuel. He entered this world as God come down to us. The Saviour joined himself to His creatures, who needed Him. This is the miracle we celebrate at Christmas. With joy, we acknowledge that we have a divine Saviour Who knows us and sympathizes with us because He shared life with us. He shared fully in our human existence. All this is true not just for the years long ago when Christ walked this earth. It is true today. The fact has not changed. Our Lord and Saviour is “God with us.” He is with us, with you and me, to forgive us, to encourage us, to listen to our prayers, to care for us, and to comfort us. The Gospel tells us that the baby born in Bethlehem, the son of Mary and the Son of God, is God with us. He came to bless us and save us. May that be for you the lasting message of Christmas, a treasure in your heart. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that you and those around you will know by faith the great, lasting comfort we have in believing that Jesus is our Emmanuel. Pray that others will come to know Him too. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 25 – Joyful at Christmas

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-14 On Christmas Day our hearts should be ready to receive a full, overflowing experience of JOY. That was the angels' message. God sent His Son to save His people. What could be more joyful news than that? May this news of hope, of God's plan of salvation, bring joy to your heart today and in all the days to come! It is news for all the people. You can share that joy. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, all those who come to the Lord in humble faith are welcome to share this joy, because according to the plan of God, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ has gone out and is going out to all the peoples of the world. Humbly respond to the Spirit's call to faith and you also will share in the blessed joy which fills the hearts of God's people today. The angels' message declares, "Fear not!" In a world filled with perils, terrorist violence, disease, pain and death, how is it possible to live without fear? We Christians can live with joy in our hearts, with confidence in God's care because we have heard and believed the Good News. True, lasting joy comes, not with a pile of presents, not with decorations, not with big dinners, but the real joy of Christmas was revealed by the angels, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Let the good news of the Saviour's birth fill your heart with lasting joy. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the glad tidings of Christmas will fill your heart with joy. Ask the Lord to help you share that joy with others around you. Pray for the cause of missions, so that the message of salvation will go out to all the peoples. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 24 – The Christmas sun

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. – Malachi 4:2 Scripture reading: Malachi 4 Spiritually, the human race is in darkness. Sin has darkened human understanding and, by nature, people do not recognize God or respect His law. Yet, God is gracious and merciful. On the first Christmas, when the Virgin Mary brought forth her Son, the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 was fulfilled. The dark night of sin was pierced by shining rays of heavenly light. Jesus, the Sun of righteousness was born. His divine light dispels the ugly darkness of sin. Just as exposure to sunshine is needed for our physical health, so we need the Sun of righteousness to shine upon us for our spiritual health, even as the prophet declared that the Messiah shall rise with healing in its wings. By His birth, ministry, death and resurrection, Jesus heals the souls of His people. He gives light and life. May your soul feel that healing power! However, the joyous sunshine of Christ's presence is only received by those who fear my name. As you prepare for Christmas celebrations of tomorrow, are you among that number? Is your heart filled with reverence for God and gratitude for all He has done? It is only those who kneel before the Lord in faith, who will feel the warmth of the Sun of righteousness. May Jesus, that Sun, dispel the darkness of your sin and heal the brokenness of your heart and life, so that Christmas Day will be bright with the Light of the World, Jesus, the Sun shining upon your soul and filling your life with His great light. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you see your need of light in the darkness of this sinful world. Pray for wisdom to seek the light of the Sun of righteousness. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 23 – The day of the righteous branch

...I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he will reign as king and deal wisely....And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” – Jeremiah 23:5,6 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8 In His human nature, Jesus is a descendant of David. He is David's heir, the true king of God's people. So many earthly kings, including many of those following after David, were evil. Our Lord Jesus, however, was born the righteous One. He is the King of the church even now and rules with justice. In His eternal kingdom, we believers will enjoy salvation and security, peace and happiness, forever under His gracious rule. By the Spirit's inspiration, Jeremiah revealed that the Messiah, David's holy descendant, would bear a marvellous name, the Lord is our righteousness. Jesus was born to be our righteousness. Our Saviour provides every believer with a standing before God. Because He covers our sins with His perfect sacrifice, the crushing burden of our sin and shame is lifted. We are made right with God now and always. At this Christmas season there is much celebrating. So many enjoy dinners and parties. There are all kinds of sentimental movies on TV about Santa and, sadly, that's what secular people think Christmas is all about. It's not. We Christians, however, know the truth. We celebrate the birth of our glorious King. Jesus was born to rule over us now and always. He is the righteous Branch, the One Who provides salvation for His people, who are clothed in His perfect righteousness. May this truth be the centre of your celebration. Christmas is the Day of the Righteous Branch. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to fill your heart with gratitude for sending His Son to be the Righteous Branch for you. Pray for God's Kingdom on earth, the church, that she may faithfully submit to His rule in all things. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 22 – What child is this?

...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 God gave Isaiah a marvellous revelation about the Son He would send and did send in the fullness of time. What Child is this? He is the Wonderful Counsellor. A counsellor is to reconcile people, help settle differences, go between and draw people together. Jesus reconciles a lost humanity to the Father in heaven. He is our mediator and draws us into a blessed fellowship with the Lord (Romans 5). Even now He intercedes for us. He was born to be our Wonderful Counsellor. He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting (Son of the) Father. At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born a helpless babe in Bethlehem's stall. He shared the physical weakness of our humanity. Yet, Jesus is also the Son of God. It was only with divine power that Jesus could carry the wrath of God against sin through His life of suffering and especially at the cross. What Child is this? He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father's only begotten Son. He is the Prince of Peace. As the Son of God, Christ rules, governs and sustains all things. In the midst of a troubled world, He gives us the inner peace we desperately need. In the midst of our own personal cares and worries, He speaks to our hearts saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). What Child is this? He is the Prince of Peace. As you look forward to Christmas, ask yourself, "Whose birth am I celebrating? What Child is this... to me?” Suggestions for prayer Pray for wisdom to see with eyes of faith Whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the good news of Christ with others around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 21 – The purpose of Christmas

...emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.... therefore God has highly exalted him.... – Philippians 2:7-9 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 What is the purpose of Christmas? To stimulate the economy? To have a few days off at the end of the year? A good excuse for parties? Such would be the secular perspective. The Bible, however, states clearly a far different purpose. God sent His eternal Son into this world so that Jesus would fully share our humanity. It was a humbling experience for the Son of God. He emptied Himself. He was born in a stable. He came into this world as the Suffering Servant of the Lord. This was necessary. Our Saviour had to experience the full burden of human existence in order to be our perfect sacrifice. The result of all this, however, was amazing! Having accomplished His earthly ministry and having won salvation for us by His death and resurrection, now God has highly exalted him. The Saviour, Who first came into this world so humbly, is now at the Father's right hand. He is now in glory and He will return in majesty to judge the living and the dead. His ministry, which began in humility, will culminate in glory and honour. God grant that we, with all God's people, will reflect upon and believe the real purpose of Christmas. That purpose is to point us to the fullness of Jesus' work and ministry. It began with the Son of God emptying Himself in Bethlehem, taking the form of a servant in order to win our salvation. It will be fulfilled at Jesus' glorious return. Suggestions for prayer May it be the prayer of your heart that Jesus will return to us quickly. Ask the Lord to make the true purpose of Christmas known to you and those around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 20 – Jesus, the Man of Heaven

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. – I Corinthians 15:49 Scripture reading: I Corinthians 15:42-58 As we worship the Lord in church today, whom do we hope to meet? No doubt many a sermon will be preached on the incarnation and that is most appropriate. There is no end to blessing when we reflect on the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Still, the fact is that Jesus is no longer and has not been for nearly two millennia, a baby lying in a manger. Today at church we are to have sweet fellowship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord's Day is the Day of Resurrection. Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate, rose from the dead. The crucified One is the Lord of life. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the Father's right hand. That is Who we meet at worship, the man of heaven. What a blessing! We children of Adam and Eve, have in Christ a most wonderful future. In glory we shall bear the image of God, restored and made perfect. May our faithful worship, our careful listening to the Word of God read and preached, bring to our souls all the riches of the full Gospel story. Christ was born to be the Lord of life. By accomplishing His ministry, Jesus, the risen Lord, won for us the victory! Let us now seek to bear the image of the man of heaven. We do so by living a Christian life, as we follow our Master and serve Him now and for all eternity. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by worshipping the Lord today your heart will be filled with the joy and hope that those who believe receive from the risen Lord. Ask the Spirit to work within you that you may more and more bear the image of the man of heaven. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 19 – Christ’s suffering

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. – I Peter 4:1 Scripture reading: I Peter 4:1-11 For most people, Christmas is a happy time of year. Yes, there are those who are lonely, struggling or sad, but for the majority it would seem to be a festive, joyful season. Secular people are happy with their parties and presents. Christians find joy in the Gospel message of peace on earth; good will towards men (Luke 2:14). Today let us give a thought for the Lord Jesus Himself. He was born to be the Lord's suffering servant. His task was to carry our sin all the way to the cross, where He died in agony, the righteous for the unrighteous. The Apostle Peter calls this to our attention in our text, where his inspired words declare, "Christ suffered in the flesh." The holy Son of God took on human flesh in order to suffer for us in the flesh. Now the Apostle calls upon you to live as a Christian, as one who by faith has ceased from the condemnation of sin, by sharing the same way of thinking. We are to live a sacrificial life for Christ, Who suffered so to redeem us. Let us come to Christ, who suffered as the Lamb of God and let us have in our hearts the desire and intention to follow Him in a life of sacrifice, so that we can sing with the hymn writer Charlotte Elliot: Just as I am: poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind Yea all I need, in Thee to find O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal to you more and more the ways in which you can, in thankfulness, offer to Him your whole self as a sacrifice of praise. Offer a prayer of gratitude to the Saviour, Who suffered so to save you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 18 – Christ, our King

...there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 Scripture reading: Daniel 7:1-14 The child, so humbly born in Bethlehem, is our king! The wise men recognized this and Herod feared this. Christians rejoice in this. Though this world is in rebellion against Christ and the powers of this world rage against the Lord, His kingdom and His people, nevertheless, in fulfillment of this prophecy given to Daniel, the Lord Jesus, having accomplished His ministry, now reigns in heaven. He rules His church and the day shall come when every knee will bow to Him in heaven and on earth. For God's Old Testament people, in Babylonian exile, the future kingdom of the Son of Man was a shining beacon giving hope to Daniel and all those who looked ahead to the coming of the Messiah. By faith, Daniel's hope was in his kingly Saviour. In these often violent and difficult days in which we live, may our hope be in Christ, our King, Who sits on heaven's throne at the right hand of God the Father. He will return, as He promised, and bring in the glorious fullness of His Kingdom. Jesus was born to be our King. To Him belong dominion, glory and an eternal kingdom. What joy this truth brings to our hearts! When by God's election we are called to be servants of the King, we gain a wonderful confidence. Jesus rules. Jesus leads. May our hearts be filled with hope. Trust the prophetic promise. The child who came into this world in Bethlehem's stall will return with power and glory to usher in His everlasting kingdom! Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus be the king of your heart and life. Ask the Lord to show you ways in which even now you can do your part as His servant in building up His kingdom on earth, the church. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 17 – Christ, our priest

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned- every one- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6 Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 According to the command of God, Old Testament priests offered sacrifices, symbols of the need to atone for sin that so offended the Lord. All fallen humanity has sinned; now something must be given to cleanse us before we appear at the judgment throne of God. A priest, an intercessor, is needed to offer such a sacrifice. Who is that priest? What is the sacrifice that God accepts? The animal sacrifices of Old Testament times, offered up by Aaron and his descendants, could not atone for sin. They were symbols of what was needed. The Christmas account marks the start of God's great work, sending His Son into this world to be our great High Priest, our Intercessor, and the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). God Himself provided the priest and the sacrifice, His beloved Son. If the world around us gives a thought to Jesus at Christmas, it is one of cloying sentimentality. All it sees is a cute baby, as pictured on so many Christmas cards. Christians, however, know that Jesus was born to be our great High Priest. His task was to offer to God the Father the perfect, atoning sacrifice, His body and blood upon the cross. We need no earthly priest like the Israelites of old. We need no further sacrifices, because Jesus paid it all at the cross. God grant us faith to lovingly appreciate the redeeming work of Jesus, since through His sacrifice we are saved. Suggestions for prayer Seek the Lord's pardon with a prayer of confession and of trust in the cleansing power of Jesus' sacrifice. Pray for the conversion of those who think earthly priests can still intercede for them. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 16 – Christ, our prophet

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. – Deuteronomy 18:18 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-22 At Christmas, our thoughts naturally turn to the miracle of God's Son, born of the Virgin Mary, an infant lying in a manger. This, however, is but the start of Jesus' earthly ministry. We rightly celebrate His birth, but we must not neglect to meditate upon the whole of His ministry. He was born to be our chief prophet, in fulfillment of the prophecy given in Deuteronomy 18. In His prophetic office, Jesus fulfills the Scripture. God's people need a prophet because we need a message from the Lord.  A prophet's task is to bring God's people the Word of the Lord. That Word is the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Son of Man, Jesus was like us, His brothers, sin excepted. He shared our human experience and anointed by the Spirit, He proclaimed the message of salvation, which is our great need as fallen human beings. The child born in Bethlehem was sent by the Father to preach the good news. No wonder so many in His own day were amazed at the power and authority of His message. Today, our souls are transformed by His powerful Gospel. Be reminded at this season that God sent His only begotten Son to be our chief prophet. His message is for us, you and me, His brothers. It is exactly what we need, the good news of redemption through His birth, death and resurrection. Believe His message! Seek none other. His Word, that Gospel of salvation, stands firm forever. Let us praise God for that. Suggestions for prayer Pray for an increase of faith to believe fully and sincerely the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for wisdom to live out that faith today and every day. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 15 – Jesus saves

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12 Scripture reading: Acts 4:1-12  If an unbelieving neighbour said to you, “I'm thinking about going to church for a Christmas service, but before I go, I'd like to know what is the basic belief you Christians hold?” What would you say? If you answered, “Jesus saves!” you would have answered rightly. You would be following the example of the Apostle Peter in our text. In today's world, there are many misunderstandings about Christmas. To celebrate a merely secular Christmas is a tragic mistake of eternal dimensions. To concentrate on parties and presents instead of the gift of God is foolishness. To focus solely in a sentimental way on the infant Jesus, lying in a manger in Bethlehem, is also to misunderstand God's plan and purpose. God the Father sent His Son to save us from our sins. God the Holy Spirit caused the miracle of the virgin birth to save us from our sins. At Christmas, Christians acknowledge the full work of God in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us. Christmas is the start of the entire Gospel story. Rejoice in the glad tidings of Christmas! There is hope for us sinners. Even though in ourselves we are unworthy and cannot earn our own salvation, God has provided for us. In our text the Apostle says, "We must be saved." Indeed, we must, or else we will be lost for eternity. Well then, are you saved? Those who are saved have faith in Jesus, Whose very name means “saviour,” and in Him, in His precious name, there is salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask God for grace to understand and believe the fullness of the Christmas message that in the name of Jesus we are saved. Pray for wisdom to connect the Christmas account with the entire Gospel message. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 14 – Refusing Christ, refusing life

Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:40 Scripture reading: John 5:30-47 Christmas is a time of year when many, who rarely darken the door of a church, will attend a special program or service. Although the number of outright skeptics, unbelievers and atheists grows ever larger in the western world, there are still many who think that a once-a-year appearance in church at Christmas is more than enough to satisfy their religious obligations. They come to church, but do not come to Jesus in faith and obedience. Most of us, I hope, were in church yesterday. Is there a warning that we religious people should take from our text? Yes. We can be outwardly religious: attending church services, living a moral life, even reading a daily devotional at home and yet we can be in spiritual danger if in our heart we refuse to come to Christ in sincere, humble faith. How can we get that faith? How can we build it up? We must come to Jesus through the means He has given us. We must search the Scriptures, studying the Bible with a believing heart. We must take to heart what we hear proclaimed from the pulpit by faithful ministers of the Word. To know a bit about the message of the Scriptures, but not to know the Christ revealed by the Scriptures is fatal. Many may attend a Christmas program, but not come to Christ in faith. Let us personally and at church search the Scriptures, believe the message and receive the blessing of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life. Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that, by careful use of the means of grace and by faithful personal devotions, you will come to faith in Jesus Christ and that your faith may grow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 13 – Powerful trust

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. – Psalm 20:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 20 Whom do you trust? This morning, as you drive to church, many of you will drive through a green light without a second thought because you trust that others will stop at the red light on the cross street. David knew that many of his enemies trusted in the power of chariots and horses to gain a victory. Things don't always work out that way. Careless drivers go through a red light and cause a crash. Military leaders trust in the latest technology, but that does not guarantee a victory. As a believer, David could declare by the Spirit's inspiration, "We trust in the name of the Lord our God." May that declaration be ours also! Today at worship, we will take the name of the Lord upon our lips as we sing and pray. We will hear a sermon in which the name of the Lord will be spoken. God grant that it be no empty formality. May it be a real expression of our trust. Just before Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). A wholehearted faith in Jesus is the most powerful trust you can have because Jesus is the only Saviour. In Him we find all things necessary for our salvation. The Son of God alone is faithful and able to protect us, surround us with divine care, bestow forgiveness and eternal life. Yes! Trust in Jesus is the most powerful trust of all. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to bless you and those who worship with you today with increasing trust in the Saviour, Whom He sent into the world, Jesus. Pray for a blessing upon the preaching of the Word. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 12 – The Christmas witness

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. – Luke 2:20 Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-20 If the angels had never appeared, if no message had been given, the shepherds would have just stayed with their sheep out in the hills. They would never have realized the miracle that took place in the City of David that night. By the plan and providence of God, however, the shepherds were chosen to hear the message and they shared in the Christmas event because God's message was revealed to them. After witnessing all that took place, the shepherds returned to their task; they went back to their flocks. Here is a lesson for us. After all the celebrations of this season, at last, we will go back to our usual tasks and activities. How will we go? The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. The shepherds reacted to what they had witnessed with joy and praise. What a wonderful testimony! At the close of the Christmas season, after attending worship and special services, we will be truly blessed if we return to our daily work with a similar response. When we take God at His Word, believe the Christmas message and give God the glory, we will be blessed. May that be your response. What a witness that gives to your family, friends and neighbours! Praise the Lord with your lips and lives, as you return to your daily tasks, to your calling and right there, where God has placed you, be a witness by glorifying and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born to be our Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the joy of the Christmas message will be lasting in your heart and life. Ask the Lord to guide your celebrations in such a way that they will be a witness for Christ Jesus to all around you. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 11 – The Christmas light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 How dreary these dark December nights would be without all the glowing Christmas lights! The bright lights are an appropriate symbol at Christmas and the Apostle John calls this to our attention in our text. Jesus is the Light shining in the darkness. Human hearts and this world are dark with sin. Worldly people, deceived by Satan, see everything as grey. They dismiss personal sin as small mistakes and try to ignore its brutal power. Enlightened by Scripture, Christians can see that this world is in utter darkness and human hearts are by nature in complete darkness without Christ. The joy of Christmas is that God sent His Son to shine in the darkness. Though sin, Satan, the world and the evil filling human hearts are deadly strong, the power of the light of Christ is far stronger, and the darkness has not overcome it. Reflect on the spiritual assessment of our text, namely, that the world and our own sin cannot frustrate the work of Christ, our Saviour, sent by God the Father to fill the hearts of His people with the joy of spiritual light showing us the way to salvation. Instructed by God's Word, let us flee the darkness and come to the Light which will never cease to shine. As we see the Christmas lights glow all around us, let us lift up our hearts to the one, true Light, our divine Saviour, whose birth we celebrate. Jesus was born to set us free from darkness, born to give us the light of life! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to shed the light of His Word, the light of the saving power of His Son upon your path of life. Pray for strength to walk each day in that light. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 10 – Happy Hanukkah

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. – John 10:22,23 Scripture reading: John 10:22-39 Today, our Jewish neighbours begin their celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights. We read in John 10 that Jesus was in the temple at Hanukkah. This Feast was a yearly reminder to the Jews that after the Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the temple, the Jews, in 165 BC, were able to recapture Jerusalem and rededicate the temple. To relight the candlestick they needed consecrated oil, but that would take eight days to process. The Jews said that by a miracle the candlestick burned for eight days with only enough oil for one day. That is why light is the symbol of this feast. What has all this to do with us? John was inspired to include the fact that Jesus was in the temple at the Feast of Dedication. This should call to our minds and hearts that God sent His Son, Jesus, Who came to the temple and declared, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). This should remind us of God's faithfulness in providing the light of life in a world made dark by sin. It should remind us to hold fast to God's covenant promises as He fulfills them completely. Through them, we find spiritual strength to confront the darkness of Satan and the world. Through faith in Christ, the Light of the world, we find saving strength. May the perfect light of the Saviour shine upon us forever. Suggestions for prayer Make it your petition that God will prosper the work of Christian missions among the Jewish people. Pray that the Gospel light will shine brightly in your heart and home. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 9 – Christ’s sacrifice

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – Galatians 4:4,5 Scripture reading: Galatians 3:23-4:7 Christmas marks the occasion when the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary and took on human flesh. As such, He experienced temptations, physical weakness and pain. His birth is the start of His life of suffering and obedience to the Father's will. The heart of that obedience was that Christ was born to be our sacrifice for sin. Such a sacrifice is essential for us because our sins alienate us from God and His love, and it is needed to satisfy God's righteous justice. In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son. Because our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to live under God's Law in perfect obedience and because He willingly offered Himself on Calvary's cross, when we come to Him through the Spirit's gift of faith, He forgives our sin. As forgiven sinners, God receives us for the sake of His Son. This is possible because God sent His Son to be our perfect sacrifice. Those who truly celebrate Christmas acknowledge this fact and rejoice in it. While so many around us indulge themselves in a merely sentimental, secular Christmas, for Christians it is different. As one who once was condemned by your breaking of God's Law, prepare your heart for a true celebration of Christmas by knowing you need salvation and every day you need a sacrifice for sin. Prepare for Christmas by depending on Christ alone to satisfy your need and to make you, through Christ's sacrifice, a child of God by a gracious adoption! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a humble heart that acknowledges your spiritual need. Thank God for His marvellous love in sending His Son to meet your needs. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 8 – Never too dark

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. – Isaiah 9:2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 At this time of year in North America days are short and nights are long. Many people brighten the darkness with beautiful light displays. For most, such lights are merely decoration, but Christians know that light is a powerful, Biblical symbol at Christmas. Darkness is a picture of despair; today many walk in spiritual darkness. Isaiah, inspired by God, recognized this spiritual darkness which is the result of sin. Who were the people walking in darkness? Gentile sinners? Yes. These words of prophecy, however, were directed at God's own people, because the people of Judah had placed themselves in darkness due to their rebellion against God. Today, this prophecy speaks to us. We must beware of the darkness that can come upon us if we fail to believe and live in obedience. God would not have His people live in darkness. That is why He sent His Son to be the Light of the world. It is a blessing beyond price that we, who live in a sin-dark world, can come to that Light by the powerful working of the Spirit. The apostle tells us in Ephesians 5:8, "For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Those who walk by faith in Christ know the joy of walking in the light. May the light of Christ shine upon you at this season and always. Seek God's gift of spiritual light, so that the saving grace of the Lord will shine upon you! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to shine the Gospel light upon you and your loved ones by helping you to be faithful in Scripture reading, prayer and worship. Pray that the Lord will provide you with opportunities to share that light. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 7 – From the start to the finish

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. – Revelation 22:13 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-13 Jesus introduces Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Remember that Revelation is a book of symbols. The Lord is using these Greek letters to declare that He is eternal, the source of life and being. By this, the Lord is pointing us to the opening words of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That is how the Christmas story starts in the Gospel of John. This is an important aspect of Christmas. The miracle of the Virgin Mary's baby is but part of the amazing work of God. It is the start of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that He is the Alpha, the beginning, and was with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity. What a joy to serve the Lord and Saviour, the very source of life and blessing. He is also the end, the Omega. Secular humanity fears that climate change, a virus or nuclear war will end this world. We know that Jesus will usher in the close of the age. The One born at Christmas will return and every knee will bow to Him. He will complete all things and at the end, He stands holding out to believers the crown of life. Rejoice to behold God's Son! Come as a baby, but do not fail to acknowledge Him as eternal God, your Saviour and Lord, the Alpha and Omega in your heart and life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christians everywhere, yourself included, will remember the eternal dimension of Christmas, namely, that the One born in Bethlehem is the Alpha and Omega. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 6 – What will you get?

And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him.  I Kings 5:12 Scripture reading: I Kings 5 Sometimes parents promise children a certain Christmas present, but cannot deliver. Popular toys can become unobtainable. It happens. People break promises and not just small ones. Sacred promises, vows of marriage or profession of faith, are broken by some and it hurts families and churches. If the Lord God promises something, however, He will give it! Our text speaks to us of the promise of God to Solomon, the gift of wisdom. God kept His promise and that was fine for Solomon, but what about us? In James 1:5-7 the Lord promises to give wisdom to those who turn to Him today. How we need this precious gift! If we are going to resist the devil, if we are going to contend for the faith, if we are going to make good decisions in life, then we need wisdom. Today, the Lord's Day, seek divine blessings and gifts by trusting God's promises and by living in obedience. You have the opportunity to seek the Lord and all that He promises in public worship. Do not neglect this! The Lord promises His blessings to those who sincerely seek and worship Him, and His promises never fail. That is the comforting message of our text, "the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him." Receiving the gift of wisdom is far better than any material Christmas present you might get. Seek wisdom then where it is to be found, including attending public worship at church, and the Lord will surely give it. That is God's promise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that all who attend worship today will give full attention to the Scripture readings, the preaching, the prayers, indeed all aspects of worship that they may gain, as a gift of God, the wisdom to live for Jesus in faith and obedience. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 5 – Get ready

And Mary said, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38 Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 The world gets ready for Christmas with a rush of parties and presents. We see a different picture in our Scripture reading. Mary was told by the Archangel Gabriel that by a miracle she would be with child and that child would be the Messiah. Hearing that, she made herself ready with a humble spirit of service. “I am the servant of the Lord,” she said. She was not the giver of the gift. It was God Who gave His Son. Mary's task was to serve the Lord by becoming the virgin mother of God's Son. We see Mary's humble spirit of acceptance. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” What God asked of her was difficult to comprehend and could bring disgrace upon her, because Joseph and the people of Nazareth would be hard-pressed to understand. Yet, with trust and faith, she accepted the Lord's will and readied her heart. All of us are getting ready for Christmas. No doubt you have been busy buying presents and planning family celebrations. There are special programs that require much time and effort. Let us not, however, become overpowered by the world's Christmas rush. We are called to serve the Lord and make our hearts ready to receive Him in a spirit of humble service and acceptance of His will. May your response to the Lord be, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Suggestions for prayer Make it your prayer that God's Spirit will instill within you a spirit of service and acceptance of God's will. Ask that such a spirit will help you to prepare for worship tomorrow. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 4 – A light for the nations

I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. – Isaiah 49:6b Scripture reading: Isaiah 49:1-7 Isaiah often speaks prophetically of the Servant of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 49, God promises that Servant of the Lord, " I will make you as a light for the nations." Jesus came to be that light, not just for the people of His day, or for God's Old Testament people, but for all the nations! That word “light” stands for Christ's redeeming work, the eternal plan of God to build a church from among all the peoples of this world. That is why God sent His Son. Praise God that the message of salvation has gone out in our own day to the end of the earth! The good news has reached far and wide and includes you who are reading this devotional. We must remember, however, that the good tidings of great joy must reach all peoples. May this vital aspect of Christmas remind us to shine with light, reflecting the perfect light of Christ Jesus. Christmas is often a time when unbelievers are more receptive to listen to the Gospel. Do your part in sharing the light of Christ with those near and dear to you. Remember our responsibility to support the cause of missions. There are many opportunities, but often not enough resources. Led by His Word and Spirit, let us be faithful in our personal witness and in our support of missions. May the Gospel light shine brightly to the ends of the earth, so that from among all the peoples, God's elect will be gathered in. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to provide you with opportunities to share the light of Christ with those around you in a meaningful way. Uphold missionaries at home and abroad with your prayers and financial support. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 3 – Joseph’s obedience

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife. – Matthew 1:24 Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 In our modern celebration of Christmas, Joseph seems to have disappeared. He is in the Gospel story and in many manger scenes, but his place in the blessed event seems overlooked or forgotten. Why? Satan has filled our modern world with the sin of rebellion. When we read the Christmas story, Joseph appears as a man of obedience, the opposite of rebellion. The Lord called Joseph to his part and Joseph obeyed. It seemed that all the forces of the world conspired against Joseph to impel him to disobey the bidding of the Lord's angel. Why should he give up his legal right to divorce Mary? Why should he go through all the emotional turmoil of dealing with this unexpected turn of events? Yet, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took Mary home and protected her. He established a family and home into which the Son of God was welcomed. Such an example of wholehearted obedience is not popular in our sinful, rebellious age. Through His Word in Matthew 1, the Lord is calling us to respond as people of faith, who hear the Gospel message and respond with faith, but also with obedience. How do you plan on celebrating Christmas? God calls each of us to be a witness to our own family and to a watching world. Your obedience to the Lord, when others see you actually do what the Lord commands, is a powerful witness. May that witness shine brightly this Christmas season and always! Suggestions for prayer Pray for inner spiritual strength for yourself and your loved ones that your witness will be strong and bright this Christmastide through practical acts of obedience to the Lord's will. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

December 2 – Preparing the way

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways. – Luke 1:76 Scripture reading: Luke 1:67-80 Big events require preparation and Christmas is no exception. The first Christmas was no afterthought of God. He had His divine preparations. As part of that, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Zachariah, the priest. In the temple, where Zachariah was performing his priestly duties, Gabriel gave him a message. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a son, John, whose task would be to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. John's message was a call to repentance. The heart that is prepared for Jesus is a repentant heart. None other will do. John's message was gracious, true to his name which means “the Lord is gracious.” He was preparing the people to receive God's gracious gift, His Son, Who would earn forgiveness for His people through His death and establish forgiveness in the power of His resurrection. John did his work. He preached about sin, repentance and forgiveness. The way was prepared for Jesus by His cousin, John the Baptist. Today we are called to prepare a way for the Lord. How? We must be prepared to show those around us, by word and deed, that Christmas is a remembrance of God's great gift of His Son. God also calls us to prepare personally by receiving into our hearts, by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only a person who truly trusts by faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour is really prepared to rejoice in the glad celebration of Christmas. May you, by grace through faith, be well prepared. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and those around you will prepare for your Christmas celebrations with a focus on our need to repent and on the power of Christ Jesus to forgive. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to December’s devotionals

As one might expect, the focus of our attention in this month of December is the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. There is no end to the blessing of reflecting upon the great gift of God the Father, namely, His beloved Son, Whom He gave to us for our salvation. Most of us live in places where, sadly, those around us celebrate a merely secular Christmas. We must confess that all too often we can get caught up in the hectic, almost frantic, pace of such celebrations, which are the sole object of attention for our neighbours, co-workers and friends. How important it is, then, to make sure that on a daily basis our attention is fixed on the true meaning of Christmas, the holy birth of Jesus, our Saviour. It is my hope and intention that by delving into the Scriptures day by day throughout this month of December, we can lift up our hearts heavenward and nourish our souls by reflecting upon the true meaning of Christmas. May this daily devotional, together with personal prayer and public worship, help us to praise and thank God for sending us His Son. Have a blessed Christmas! Rejecting Christmas He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. – John 1:11 Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 The Christmas rush is already in full swing. All around us, people are frantically busy purchasing presents, planning parties and decorating their homes as they prepare to celebrate a secular Christmas. Santa, not Jesus, is the main character for them. Parties, not worship, are their priority. As Christians, we view this with sadness and we might quickly say that such folks are rejecting the true meaning of Christmas. Our Scripture reading speaks of a rejecting of Christmas, but not by the secular multitudes. Our text says, "He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him." As we begin our month of devotions, I urge you to reflect on this. Remember that at the first coming of our Lord, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and the leadership of God's Old Testament people rejected the Saviour with devastating consequences. The shepherds and the wise men rejoiced in Jesus' birth, but the vast majority of people did not, even though they claimed to be awaiting the Messiah. We, many of us, know the promises of God. We share in the life of the church. What a shame it would be if we rejected the very truth of Christmas by failing to crown the Prince of Peace as Lord of our lives. It can happen. Years ago, at the actual event, Jesus came, and His own people did not receive Him. Today, let us receive Him by faith as He truly is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour! Rejoice, for the Messiah has come! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your heart and the hearts of those around you and that as the Christmas season begins, your focus of attention will be on the gift of God, Jesus, Whom you are to receive humbly by grace through faith. Rev. Gregg V. Martin has pastored a total of five congregations in three Canadian provinces since he was ordained in 1977, and also served for more than seven years in Latin America as a missionary. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 30 – A story that demands a response

He who has ears, let him hear. – Matthew 13:9 Scripture reading: Luke 15:1-3,11-32 Earlier, we noted that Jesus told parables to surface the heart condition of listeners and demand a response. His stories got under people’s skin. They hit close to home… and hearts. How has the Master Storyteller spoken to your heart this month? Has anything gotten under your skin? Has any part of the story hit close to home or your heart? How have you identified with Little Brother or Big Brother? How is Jesus calling you to respond? Maybe you need to confess your sin. Maybe you need to confess that you’re in a pigpen, far from home. Maybe you need to confess that you want your Father’s stuff, not Him. Maybe you need to confess that you do not share His heart for the lost. Maybe you need to confess that you’re so locked in your self-righteousness, resentment, pride and insecurity that you are unable to join the party. Pray, “Father, forgive me.” Believe the gospel. Believe that your True Big Brother took your place to die the death you deserve. He removed your guilt before the Father. Believe that your True Big Brother took your place as the perfect Son, to live the life you should have lived. Your Father credits Christ’s righteous record to you. He receives you as His precious child. Finally, Jesus calls us to share His heart for the lost. He calls us to go out with Him into the messy places of this world, to seek the lost and lead them home. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the ways He has spoken to your heart in Luke 15. Ask Him for grace to respond to what He has said. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 29 – The one who pursues

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 Scripture reading: John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11 Our Father has a long history of pursuing His rebellious children. In Genesis 3, our first parents defied our Father and declared independence from Him. They did so by eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-7). They left their perfect home, plunging themselves and all humanity into the pigpen of our sinful, broken world. Our Father could have left them in their sin and misery, trembling in the bushes. He could have said, “You put yourself in the pigpen. Now you can marinate in the manure.” But He didn’t. Instead, “the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9). He sought them out to save them. He called them out of the bushes into His presence to deal with their sin and to restore them to their place and purpose in His family. This began a long history of relentless pursuit. From Genesis to Revelation, we see our Father at work, pursuing lost people to restore them to life in fellowship with Him. In Christ, we see just how far He was willing to go to bring us home. Christ Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Today, your Father calls you to encounter Him in covenant worship. Remember what that privilege cost Him. Then rejoice in His presence! Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for the price He paid to redeem you. Pray that you and all worshipers might encounter Him in His glory and grace in worship today. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 28 – Our true big brother

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God... – John 1:12 Scripture reading: John 1:10-13 Yesterday, we discovered who was missing from the third story in the trilogy. We were missing the One Who would leave home to seek out Little Brother, find him in his pigpen, and bring him home. We discovered that this missing Someone is the Storyteller Himself, our True Big Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the shepherd our Father sent to pursue lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7). He is the woman our Father sent to seek lost coins (Luke 15:8-10). Our Father sent Him to seek us and save us. Our True Big Brother left home and joined us in our pigpen. He entered it to rescue us from it and return us home to our Father. He pursued us all the way to death on a cross to rescue us and bring us home. “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Have you received Jesus as your True Big Brother Who bled and died to wash away your sin and guilt? Have you believed in Him as the One Who reconciles us with our Father and restores us to our place and purpose in His family? Little brothers and big brothers need Jesus! Cry out to Him to forgive you, rescue you, and restore you. “See, what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” (1 John 3:1a). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for sending our True Big Brother to pursue us, rescue us and bring us home. Pray for someone who still needs to be rescued. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 27 – Missing

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? – Luke 15:4 Scripture reading: Luke 15:1-10 Have you ever lost a tooth? Your tongue keeps going to the empty space in your mouth. You sense something is missing, even when you are not thinking about it. Jesus intends for us to feel that way about the parable we just studied. We are supposed to sense that someone is missing. We find out who is missing when we compare the third parable with the first two. In the first parable, a sheep wanders away. The shepherd goes out to find it (Luke 15:3-7). In the second parable, a precious coin rolls away. Its owner turns the house upside down to find it (Luke 15:8-10). Now it dawns on us who is missing in the third parable. When Little Brother wanders away and gets lost, no one pursues him. No one heads out to bring him home. That was Big Brother’s job. But, as we discovered in the story, Big Brother did not share his father’s heart for Little Brother. He did not go out to find him and bring him home. Instead, the father had to seek out Big Brother as well as Little Brother! (Luke 15:28b). The Pharisees and scribes were the big brothers to whom Jesus told these stories. They were to seek out tax collectors and sinners and lead them home into covenant fellowship with God. Instead, they needed their Father to seek them out! Thank God there is another Brother Who seeks and saves the lost. He is the one telling the stories. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for pursuing you to redeem you from sin and death. Ask God to fill you with the love, conviction and courage that will send you out to pursue a lost person in your life. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 26 – The (He)art of celebration

“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:32 Scripture reading: Luke 15:32; Psalm 107:1-9 Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. It is a day to celebrate our Father’s lavish gifts to us in creation and redemption. In Luke 15, each parable ends with a celebration of redemption. Let’s think about the heart and the art of celebration. Let’s use the story-line of redemption – guilt, grace, gratitude – to fuel celebration. Imagine Little Brother at the party. Humble awe overwhelms him as he considers past guilt. He does not deserve such lavish love and celebration! He had turned his back on his father. He had said, “I want your stuff, not you.” He had squandered one-third of the estate. At Christian celebrations, big brothers and little brothers remember together that they are unworthy of their place at the Father’s table. Memories of past guilt intensify Little Brother’s marvel at his father’s grace. His father had not only received him back as his son, he had done so with lavish joy and generosity. Against the dark backdrop of our guilt, our Father’s amazing grace for us in Christ shines still more. At Christian celebrations, big brothers and little brothers bask in God’s grace together. The wonder of such grace in the face of such guilt floods Little Brother with gratitude. When wonder fills you for all God has done for you in Christ, it overflows in thanksgiving and praise. Big brothers and little brothers declare, “Let me tell you what the Lord has done for me!” Their lives, also, become offerings of gratitude (Romans 12:1-2). Suggestions for prayer Acknowledge out loud what the Lord has done for you. Ask Him to fill your heart with gratitude today. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 25 – A cliff-hanger

“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:32 Scripture reading: Luke 15:31-32; Jonah 4:1-11 The father has said to Big Brother, “My son, I love you and want you at the party. I don’t want you to miss out on this celebration of amazing grace. The lavish grace I’ve poured out on Little Brother is for you too. Will you receive it?” “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad,” his father says, “for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). Does your heart rejoice at the miracle of amazing grace?  Do you love to see the spiritually dead come to life? Does it thrill you when the lost are found? Does it, even when it means sharing a pew with people who don’t know how to behave in church? Does it, even when it makes church life complicated and messy? This story is a cliff-hanger. It ends with Little Brother inside and Big Brother outside. It ends with one who had turned from God and the church, now filled with the joy of the Lord in worship. It ends with the established church member far from his Father, trapped in self-righteousness, resentment, pride and insecurity. The story ends with Big Brother at a fork in the road. It ends with Jesus’ listeners at the same fork in the road. Like the prophet Jonah, they must decide, “Will we join the party? Will we embrace the purpose for which our Father redeemed us – partnership in His mission to rescue the lost?” Will you? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His amazing grace. Ask Him to help you join the party and embrace your purpose in His family. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 24 – The Gospel for big brother(s)

And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” – Luke 15:31 Scripture reading: Luke 15:31-32; Ephesians 1:3-14 The father’s answer reveals His heart for Big Brother too. “Son, you are always with me and all that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31). First, he calls him “Son” even though Big Brother rudely refused to call Him “Father”. This points us right back to the gospel of Christ that big brothers need to internalize. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Big brothers tend to believe and behave like servants rather than sons in the family of God. Whatever their official doctrine, they aim to earn God’s approval and blessings. This leads to pride, insecurity and resentment in our relationship with God and others. We need to remember that, through faith in Christ, we are God’s children! In Christ, our Father not only offers us a covenant relationship. He also lavishes on us His covenant resources. “All that is mine is yours,” our Father says (Luke 15:31b). Big Brother had groused, “These many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29b). But that young goat, and everything else on the estate, was already his, by grace! Augustus M. Toplady summarized it well in How Vast the Benefits Divine. “How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess! We are redeemed from sin and shame and called to holiness.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the “benefits divine which we in Christ possess.” Ask Him to reassure you of your identity as His child. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 23 – Big brother today

“You never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came… you killed the fattened calf for him.” – Luke 15:29c-30 Scripture reading: Luke 15:28b-30; Jeremiah 17:5-8 Who is Big Brother today? He is the church member who says, “I’ve served and sacrificed, but you haven’t _________.” She is the church member who resents a little brother’s joy in the Lord. He is the church member who looks down on the person beside him in the pew and says, “Thank God I don’t have his issues!” (Luke 18:9-12). She is the church member who feels resentment slowly replacing her joy as she serves. She feels unloved and unappreciated by God and others. She needs to step back awhile to find her identity and worth in her Father’s love, not in her performance. He is the critic quick to point out what is wrong with the church but cannot see or celebrate the wonderful things God is doing in people’s lives. She is the member who resents the pastor for spending too much time with little brothers. He rewards himself with pornography because he sacrifices so much to serve God and others. Big Brother is the church that does not share our Father’s heart for little brothers. Do you see yourself above? Our greatest need is to know the gospel of Jesus deeply in our hearts! The more we see ourselves as great sinners, the more humility replaces our pride. The more we see Jesus as our Great Savior, the more confidence replaces our insecurity. The more we rest in our Father’s radical love for us, the greater is our freedom to love, enjoy and serve God and others. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for revealing to you Christ in the gospel. Pray that the gospel might take deep root and bear fruit in your life. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 22 – I want your stuff, not you

“Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” – Luke 15:29b Scripture reading: Luke 15:28b-30; Philippians 3:3-11 Big Brother is rude to his father. He does not address him as “Father.” Instead, he says, “Look here, you!” His outburst reveals how he really feels about his father in the relationship. “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). The upshot: “I’ve slaved for you, but what have you ever given me? Instead, you give the good stuff to my messed-up brother who did nothing to deserve it.” Little Brother and Big Brother were the same in one important way. Both wanted their father’s stuff instead of fellowship with him. They just took different paths to get it. Little Brother took the rebellious path. Big Brother took the religious path. Big Brother is the church member who insists “I am justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” However, his heart theology drives him to earn God’s blessings through external obedience. Then, when God doesn’t meet his expectations or answer his prayers, he says, “Look! All these years I have slaved for you, but you didn’t ________.” How might you fill in that blank? Might this, in part, explain the unwelcome anger and resentment that arise in your heart? Let’s go back to the gospel. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20b). Suggestions for prayer Thank our Father for His free, unearned gifts of forgiveness, righteousness and adoption. Ask Him for grace to enjoy Him and those gifts. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 21 – The Father’s heart

His father came out and entreated him… – Luke 15:28b Scripture reading: Luke 15:25-28; Matthew 11:28-30 We saw the father’s heart for Little Brother. We saw his radical love in the shocking way he ran out to Little Brother and restored him to full sonship. We usually focus our attention on the father’s radical love for Little Brother. However, his love for Big Brother was just as radical! Big Brother is seething outside. His father could have said, “It’s his own stubborn choice to be miserable outside alone. I’m not going to let him ruin the party.” Instead, this father does the unexpected, once again. In those days, no self-respecting father would leave the party he is hosting to beg his own son to participate. He certainly would not do so for a disrespectful son creating a scene outside. Yet the father did just that. He “came out and entreated him” (Luke 15:28b). He could have ordered his son to come in. Instead, he begged him. This father wanted his son’s heart, not just his service. He desired his presence at the feast, not just his performance in the field. This is our Father’s heart for you too! Maybe you are in the family of God, but your heart is outside the party. Your father and others are celebrating the return of little brothers and the life-transforming grace of Jesus in people’s lives. But you find yourself stuck in your own insecurities, resentments, self-righteousness and legalistic hang-ups. Hear your Father’s voice. “My child, let’s deal with these things together. I want you at the party.” Suggestions for prayer Thank our Father that His radical love is for Big Brothers too. Pray for a soft and humble heart to receive and respond to that love. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 20 – The heart revealed (Part 2)

But he was angry and refused to go in. – Luke 15:28a Scripture reading: Luke 15:25-28a; 1 John 1:5-10 Big Brother trudged home from the field after another hard day’s work in the hot sun. Chances are, he just wanted to eat a hearty meal, then kick back before going to bed. Instead, he walked into the mother of all parties. He heard festive music. He saw people dancing. Befuddled, he asked a servant what was going on. The servant informed him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound” (Luke 15:27). Put yourself in Big Brother’s shoes. What is bubbling up inside of you right now? What is coming to the surface? For Big Brother, its anger. His anger is like smoke rising from the front of a car. He must look under the hood into his heart to diagnose what is really going on. This will become clearer to him and us as we read on in the story. Do you ever have such moments? You’re chugging along in big brother mode, taking care of business and living up to expectations. But from time to time, anger and resentment boil up inside of you, unbidden and unwelcome. You tell yourself, “It’s wrong to feel that way.” You press it down and press on. It’s time to look under the hood. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). Jesus is that man of understanding. He will help you. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for sending us His Spirit to convict our hearts. Pray for grace to diagnose your anger. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 19 – The heart revealed (Part 1)

But he was angry and refused to go in. - Luke 15:28a Scripture reading: Luke 15:25-28a; Mark 7:14-23 Every winter, we tapped trees to produce maple syrup on the farm. Forty gallons of sap produce one gallon of syrup. This requires a lot of boiling down. Near the end of the process, the syrup looked and tasted thick and delicious! The process, however, was not complete until my mother poured milk into the boiling syrup. I would watch, mesmerized, as scum surfaced. It formed a thick, globulous mass on top. I would never have known there was so much scum in that delicious syrup if milk had not caused it to surface. The ugly exposure of scum, however, had a positive purpose. My mother could now remove the scum with a strainer, leaving a purer product. We all have scum in our hearts that needs to surface. Because big brothers are typically “good church people,” however, that scum is usually harder to see and deal with. Sometimes our Father injects the milk of providential events into our lives to surface that scum. This is what happened to Big Brother in Luke 15. What milk has our Father poured into your life to surface the issues and idols of your heart? What has he used to expose your self-righteousness, resentment, lack of love, sense of entitlement or thirst for human approval? Pray with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the ‘milk’ of providential events He pours into our lives to reveal our sin. Pray Psalm 139:23-24. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

November 18 – Introducing big brother

Now his older son was in the field… – Luke 15:25a Scripture reading: Luke 15:25a; Psalm 139:23-24 The spotlight shifts from the younger son to the older son. This is Big Brother. Ah, Big Brother, the responsible first-born! He is exactly where we would expect to meet him, out in the field, working hard. When his little brother took off, Big Brother stuck around to take care of business. You can count on him. He is the one you call on when you need a thing done and you need it done right. Can you relate to Big Brother? Every year, they look to you to plan the family reunion. It goes without saying. You are always on a committee at church and often the chair. You have served multiple terms as elder or deacon in your church. When something goes wrong, you get the text or call. You are known as that person at home, church and work. Thank God for the big brothers among us! We appreciate who you are and all you do. God is using you in your spheres of service. Big brothers are like reliable cars that keep chugging. They require minimal maintenance and never break down. However, even reliable cars – and big brothers – need a look under the hood now and then. We need to check our hearts before God. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our Father sometimes uses little brothers to surface sin and idols lurking in the hearts of big brothers. Stay tuned. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the opportunities He has given you to serve Him. Ask Him for grace to examine your heart before Him. Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....