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Letter Writing

Activism 101: 4 tips on being heard

If you are waiting in-line at a grocery store you are guaranteed to be bombarded by flashy magazines. These magazines are often, if not always, an assault on the senses. They are visually disturbing with pictures of scantily clad women and men. Not only that, the headlines and featured articles promote gossip and obsession about sex, weight-loss, image and power (unfortunately those topics all seem to go hand in hand). It is interesting that these magazines are a temptation for women. On a first glance you would think that it would only be visually tempting for men (which they are). However I admit, and know many other females that would concur, that each time again I have to choose to refuse to look at or read the covers of these magazines. They are there for a reason. And it is not uncommon to see women spontaneously buy the latest glossy bit of smut. In fact, that is the very reason they are displayed there. To add to the problem, women who are grocery shopping are often accompanied by their small children. Enough is enough As a family living in Lethbridge (at that time) we witnessed this onslaught of images and ideas each time we shopped. It often bothered me that this was practiced by companies that received so much business from Christian families like ours, who did not want to see these magazines at all. One particular day my husband was shopping at the Lethbridge Save-On-Foods. He saw a young boy (maybe seven or eight years old) waiting in line with a parent. This child happened to be at eye-level with a Cosmopolitan magazine and out of sheer curiosity was staring at it. The cover featured a woman pulling her shirt wide open to reveal herself wearing only a white lacy bra. Now we all know the power of images and how hard they are to purge from your mind. And we all know the vulnerability of a young school-aged mind. And so when he told me about it I felt physically sick. I had had enough. The next time I was in the store I went from the checkout to the customer service counter and filled out a comment card. I briefly described what had been seen and suggested that they also would probably not care for their eight-year-old to see these images. I requested that the magazines be removed. If that was for some reason impossible I asked that they provide a family-friendly checkout that did not have the magazines. Quite a response It was very encouraging to receive a personal phone-call from the local store’s manager a few days later. He said that he agreed with me but then apologized that he could not change the store’s layout. Apparently every Save-On-Foods across Canada follows the same design and this layout is dictated from the head office. However he provided me with the email for the national customer service centre and offered to also contact them to add his support to my suggestions. Soon after, I sent an email to the head office with my concerns, suggestions and contact information. I then forwarded the email I had just sent to friends and family so that they could also send a similar email. After all, the more response that Save-On-Foods would receive the better. Right? A few weeks later a manager from the Overwaitea/Save-On-Foods head office phoned our home. He spoke with my husband and (at that time) agreed that something should be done. He offered to initially contact some of the magazine companies to see if the covers could be improved. If this wasn’t possible then he would look into cascading them or removing all or some of them from the checkouts. He let us know that it would likely be a few months before we would see any changes in the stores. It was once again a very encouraging response. We were looking forward to seeing what changes would take place. Quiet response Unfortunately, since then we have not noticed any significant change. The store in Lethbridge did provide one checkout aisle where they put a plastic cover in front of just one of the magazines (Cosmopolitan) so that only the cover was showing. However, this was the only change and on one’s first glance for a free checkout it was impossible to notice this. We waited for a few months like the manager had suggested but we did not see any other improvements. After that waiting period I sent a follow up email to see if anything was going to be done but I did not receive a response. My husband called again two months after that and was able to speak with the same manager. Unfortunately he was no longer so helpful. It was very disappointing to hear that they have no plans to standardize the idea of family friendly checkouts. According to him, the store is “not in the business of censoring.” They believe that most customers are not upset by the magazines being there and that they are serving their customers. He also reported that one of the stores in Abbotsford, B.C. does provide family friendly checkouts but he refused to provide any suggestions on how or if they could be implemented at other stores. Not the end? I suppose the reason is obvious. When it comes to consumerism, the almighty dollar writes the rules. The magazines are there because they rely on impulse buyers. The customer service team simply has not felt enough pressure to change. So the next logical step is for more customers to step forward. After all, how do you feel when you notice an innocent eight-year old staring at the cover of Cosmopolitan? If one comment card and one email could create a stir like this just think what could happen if more of us step up to the plate! Things we learned from this

1) Follow up, follow up, follow up. Keep the contact information of every person you spoke with in the issue so that you can speak to the same person again. Be sure to let them know in your email or phone call that you plan to contact them again.

2) Set a date. Write on your calendar when you are going to contact them again. Life is busy so it’s easy to forget how much time has gone by.

3) Get more people involved. A message is always stronger if it is spoken by more people. The decision makers need to know that they are serving more people by changing the status quo.

4) Offer your assistance. Ask how you can continue to help with this so that the decision makers don’t feel it’s all placed on their shoulders. They are also busy and they may feel more disposed to help you if you are also helping them.

Below is the email sent to the Customer Service Team:

To whom it may concern,

I am a resident of Lethbridge, Alberta after moving here from Langley, B.C. and I work as a physiotherapist in the local area. I have been a long time shopper at Save-On-Foods in Langley and now here in Lethbridge and I have been very happy with most of the service.

However I have always been disturbed by the magazine displays at the checkout aisles. There are always glossy magazines with full front cover stories that include pictures of very scantily clad women. If they are not in a very tiny bathing suit that shows most of the breast, they are in a dress that reveals almost as much. Recently there was even a full cover picture of a woman pulling her shirt open and holding it open to display her breasts barely covered by a lacy bra.

Now I have no need to see these, what I would consider pornographic, pictures. I realize that as an adult I can choose to turn my head away, which I do, but it becomes even more of a concern to me when I see a small child of 7-8 years old peering at the cover of Cosmopolitan which has been put right at his eye level. Would you want your child perusing the cover of Cosmopolitan? How confusing for our kids to be taught about people's privacy at home and then to be bombarded by these images at the local grocery store.

As a leading business group in Canada I would highly encourage you to rectify this situation, to make a moral stand and refuse to have those magazine covers take over your checkout aisles. Customers know where to find them in the magazine section. There is no reason to have them at every aisle. It is a disgrace to an upstanding business such as yours. Why sponsor this industry?

If somehow the increased magazine sales trumps that decision, I also have a few suggestions: You could opt to display the magazines in a cascading order so that only the title is visible as opposed to the entire cover. Alternatively, you could offer "family friendly" checkout aisles which do not have the magazine displays.

I can not express how grateful I would be to see the change occur. Please take the time to consider these suggestions. I appreciate hearing back from you regarding this email.

Sincerely, Jaclyn Penninga

This was first published as "One comment card and one email" in the October 2008 issue of Reformed Perspective.

Assorted

Stepping into the story: Hamlet with a happy ending?

It all starts with an invitation from the Grade Twelve English teacher, Tom Van Swift, to come and enjoy the final field trip of the year, just before graduation. When the students meet in the school foyer at the beginning of the school day, Mr. Van Swift tells them to take the elevator to the second floor. When the seven students, along with Mr. Van Swift, arrive at the second floor, they find the room (which should be the library) to be pitch-dark. “Where are we?” asks Adam. Mr. Van Swift answers, “I made a few minor modifications to the elevator. You’re now in some other dimension – of sight, of sound, of mind.” The track star of the bunch, Barbara, replies with a wit just as quick as her feet, “It’s a little too dark in here for The Twilight Zone. Can we please get some light?” "Lights… and action" So, Mr. Van Swift calls, “Lights… and action,” and that is the last the class sees or hears of him for some time. What they do see, in fact what they are standing on, is the battlements of a medieval castle, in the dying light of early evening. They themselves are dressed in Elizabethan clothes, and the man standing before them looks very familiar… “Hey, wait a minute, you’re William Shakespeare!” exclaims Cedric. “Yeah,” says Isaac, and adds, “and this is a re-creation of one of your plays. Hamlet, right? ” Suddenly, Johanna speculates, “Is this, like, a time machine?” “Forsooth, forsooth,” laughs Shakespeare. “Hinder me not, and I will repay your queries with what wit I can muster, in proper order. First, I am indeed the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. And this is – as you have truly divined – what you call a… re-creation of part of my own favorite play, Hamlet. Howe’er, as to whether this is a… time machine, I know not what thou dost speak of.” “Well, that’s a little hard to explain,” says Muriel. “But… why are we here?” “Fairly asked, young maiden, and ’twill be fairly answered,” says Shakespeare. “Over the centuries that my plays have been performed – and studied – in your schools, I have oft heard complaint and protest (methinks, too much) over the ending of my favorite play. It seems that people, especially students, bewail the death of my sweet prince Hamlet as much as I often do.” “Yeah, why should he die?” asks Oliver, who played the Emperor in the school production of The Emperor’s New Clothes. “My character’s vanity was a tragic flaw, just like Hamlet had… but he didn’t die from it.” “Aye, but your play was a comedy, was it not?” counters Shakespeare. “In a tragedy, as oft in the real world, life must, alas, be lost when once we leave law’s limits. There is a way to save my Hamlet, but first let us scan this closely: What brings Hamlet headlong to his deadly destiny?” “Well, some say Hamlet’s weakness was indecision,” rejoins Oliver confidently, “but Mr. Van Swift says that he read a Christian book that said his real flaw was being too vengeful.” “Well, if what thou sayest be truth,” Shakespeare replies, “it is certainly clear that vengefulness deserveth death. Still, do you wish to seek to save my Hamlet? Is our quest to be, or not to be?” Muriel hesitantly answers, “To be, I guess. What do we need to do?” Shakespeare explains, “Paint for me how my Hamlet was too vengeful.” “I think I know,” replies Johanna. “Is it partly that he resents his uncle Claudius for getting married to his mother so soon after his father’s death? That makes Hamlet only too ready to believe that Claudius poisoned his father for his throne, right?” “Yeah, that’s right,” says Isaac. “And then Hamlet doesn’t accuse his uncle publicly, but starts acting like he’s some kind of private eye.” “Yeah, and he doesn’t even tell his best friend what he’s thinking, but goes on a personal vendetta against Claudius and his servants,” says Barbara, who also quickly accuses Hamlet of fleeting love toward his girlfriend: “He even treats Ophelia badly ’cause he thinks all women are like his mother – disloyal to their true love.” “Don’t forget that Hamlet won’t kill Claudius when he thinks Claudius is praying, because he wants to send his uncle not just to death, but to hell. Now that’s vengeful!” concludes Adam. “And thou hast not even mentioned that Hamlet hath innocent blood on his hands, either by mistake or by malice, when he killeth Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern,” says Shakespeare, “because he believeth they are working with Claudius against him.” “I know,” says Mr. Van Swift finally, stepping out from behind a pillar. “And this battlement is where it all starts, when Hamlet sees his father’s ghost on a moonless night just like this one. But now, how about changing the ending?” “Well, as I wrote the ending,” Shakespeare replies, “Hamlet dieth when Laertes, the son of the old man Hamlet killed, stabs Hamlet with a poisoned sword in a fencing competition arranged by Hamlet’s uncle Claudius.” “We know that,” says Mr. Van Swift. “However, because this is not a time machine, but a mind machine, you simply have to rewrite this original manuscript I just found in my hand, with this quill pen I just found in my front shirt pocket, and the ending of every copy of Hamlet in the world will be changed.” “O brave new world, that hath such cunning wonders in it,” says Shakespeare. “There is only one way in which thou hast overleaped thyself, Mr. Van Swift. My play is, and should be, a tragedy. If Hamlet doth not die for his tragic flaw, then someone else must die willingly in his place.” Startled, the class hears Mr. Van Swift say casually, “So write somebody in to step in the way of the poisoned blade. How about that pompous Osric guy?” “But, Mr. Van Swift,” pleads Shakespeare, “how can I ask one of my characters to die willingly for the sins of another? That is not right. Besides, Osric has his own faults to be punished for. He cannot stand in for another. No, there is only one person who can save Hamlet – his maker… me.” A quick rewrite Now it is Mr. Van Swift’s turn to be dumbstruck. “You? You’re willing to die for Hamlet? But you’re a person, created in God’s image. He’s only a character.” “Be not so hasty in thy reasoning. The person of Shakespeare is not in peril. My soul is not here. Its destiny rests in God’s hands. What I would lose is my reputation, my glory. If I write myself into the script to save Hamlet, the name of Shakespeare will disappear. No-one will ever again know who really wrote Hamlet or Midsummer Night’s Dream or any of my more than thirty other plays. In fact, no-one will even know whether or not all my anonymous plays were written by the same person. In the public mind, my sweet prince Hamlet will live on, as he should, but Shakespeare will vanish.” Mr. Van Swift is paralyzed in horror as Shakespeare takes the manuscript and quill and begins to insert some lines for a character named… William of Avon… who overhears Claudius’s plot; is captured; escapes; and at the last minute warns Hamlet, but is stabbed by the poisoned sword himself. Even as Shakespeare writes, his features change. His face grows younger, more like his earlier actor self. Then he begins to fade as the scene in the mind machine changes to a royal palace in the middle of a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes, with a roaring fireplace at one end of the room, and the rewritten manuscript lying near it. The class sees a new character, a sort of young-looking Shakespeare, rushing in to warn Hamlet. Just before “William of Avon” can step in between Hamlet and his opponent, Mr. Van Swift screams, “No!” and hurls the rewritten manuscript into the blaze in the fireplace. The flames seem to fill the room for a moment, and everyone’s eyes close against the glare. The last act When the students open their eyes, they are back on the castle walls, with the “old” Shakespeare chuckling as he rebukes their teacher: “Really, Mr. Van Swift, I hope thou hast learned something from all thy meddling with literature. Art thou not a Christian? Yet thou art shocked when I am willing to treat one of my sinful characters, whom I had made, as a friend. Doth not God do the same for His people? Jesus said, ‘I no longer call you servants, but friends.’” “Yes, but to have Shakespeare’s name disappear!” says Mr. Van Swift. “It’s unthinkable! There is glory and majesty in that name!” “The Son of God had far greater glory and majesty,” counters Shakespeare, “but He did not count His equality with His Father as something to be greedily held on to. Rather, He gave up His glory and humbled Himself unto death. He was willing to step into the story He had written as one of the Persons of the Tri-une God, rather than let it simply perish in the flames – as you were only too willing to let happen.” “But what good is all this to our Grade Twelve students?” replies Mr. Van Swift. “I was trying to show them how they have the power to change things, and you’ve just shown them that everything stays the same.” “Actually, Mr. Van Swift, thou shewest them that when thou did not let me change the play. However, thou also revealed what a great and terrible thing it is for the Maker to step into His own story. Meditate upon that for a while, as thou ponderest also how to respond to the love of the Divine Storyteller.” “This all reminds me,” says Mr. Van Swift, slowly, “of Philippians 2. One way to respond to a God who steps into His own story is ‘with fear and trembling,’ as we ‘work out’ the roles he has set for us in the story He has written for us.” “Now that, forsooth, is an ending worth keeping,” says Shakespeare, as both he and the castle begin to fade. “Remember me,” he says faintly, with a ghostly grin, as the students find themselves in their own school library. “So, class,” says Mr. Van Swift. “Not what I meant to teach, but remember this as you graduate from our school. God the Son, who with God the Father and the Spirit is our Maker, gave up His glory and stepped into His story to save us, calls us His friends, and now enables us to carry out, with fear and trembling, the parts He has given us, in His-Story.”

Jeff Dykstra admits that C. S. Lewis thought of making Shakespeare a character in his own play first – as a symbol for the Incarnation. However, Jeff wrote it as a story first.

Politics

Compulsory voting is only for show

Should everyone have to vote? This past September the polling group Research Co. asked 1,000 Canadians if voting should be made mandatory in all federal elections. 62% thought it should be. Why would so many want to make voting compulsory? Advocates argue that higher voter turnouts give a government a higher degree of political legitimacy. In Australia, where voting is required, the 2013 election saw roughly 80% of the voting age population cast a ballot.1 To put that number in context, over Canada's last three federal elections we’ve averaged about 65% of the electorate casting a ballot. Compulsory voting could increase those totals. How? By forcing the apathetic to get up off the couch: folks who were too lazy to get educated about their choices, or those who know and hate their choices but who are too sluggish to step up and offer voters an alternative. Now here's a question: do we even want them voting? We can force them out to the ballot box, but nothing we do can force them to get informed. Why would we want to make them eenie, meenie, miney, mo their way through the slate of candidates? Are we really making democracy better when one voter's thoughtful choice can be countered by a guy making selections based on his favorite number? “I’m going with lucky number 4!” Making voting mandatory will inflate the voter turnout, but that’s really only a sham: requiring someone to vote doesn’t mean they will be any more involved. Compulsory voting won't motivate the I-won’t–vote-unless-you make-me sort to also spend time studying the issues and researching the various candidate’s positions. That's why, the very last thing we need to do is force people who don’t care, who haven’t done their research, and who otherwise wouldn’t vote, to now go down and mark their utterly random “x” on a ballot. Endnote 1 The official figure was 93% but that doesn’t factor in that, despite the law, 10% of Australians aren’t registered to vote. When we consider all the people of voting age, and then see how many actually voted, we get 80%.

News

Most overlooked articles of 2018

We've previously shared a Top-10 list of RP's most popular posts of 2018. While every article on that list was fantastic, not every fantastic article was on that list – in fact, some of 2018's best articles managed to fall through cracks in the Internet and get almost entirely overlooked. But because they deserved better we've gathered them up and are shining the spotlight on them one more time. Without further adieu, here are some of the best, overlooked articles of 2018. Very helpful book reviews 12 ways your phone is changing you We live in a very different world than just 10 years ago - always connected, and yet increasingly disconnected. How does a Christian live with suffering? It's a question we'll all ask at some point... Insightful, incredibly creative fiction Hamlet with a happy ending What if the author of the story wanted to save Hamlet and was willing to step into the story to do it? Report of a meeting that was never held As this first-century meeting makes clear, we can be confident the apostles didn't edit the Bible. On the origin of articles Some silly sorts think articles are designed, but, as this article makes plain, they aren't designed – they evolve! Parenting On reading together Reading with your children is a wonderful way to teach, encourage, and bond with them. Discipline or punishment When it comes to discipline and punishment, parents do you know which you should, and which you shouldn't, be doing? And do your children understand the difference too? Evangelism and apologetics I love apologetics Ray Comfort, on how apologetics and evangelism are not as complicated as we sometimes make them out to be. Disarming a name caller by asking them to explain their insult The quickest way to put a thoughtless critic in their place is to ask them to actually explain their criticism. Paul vs. James: Dealing with Bible difficulties and Dealing with the Bible's difficult texts Bible critics want to confound us with supposed difficulties and contradictions in the Bible. Here are a couple quick takes on how to respond in faith, and with confidence. Humor What is humor? In a world that's increasingly comedic, Christians need to know how to use humor to point to the Truth. And the first step involves seeing humor as God sees it. Insights from the Devil's dictionary The creator of the Devil's dictionary wasn't Christian, but, some of his definitions were hilariously insightful. The very best pro-life signs! Humor can be used as a weapon for Truth. Here are some great examples. BONUS: On economics, dating, and deformers G.K. Chesterton on the difference between reformers and deformers The rich get richer by making us all wealthier Faint heart never won fair maiden


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Daily devotional

March 28 – Baptism as a sign of the goal of God’s creation

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism.” – Colossians 2:11-12a    Scripture reading: Exodus 28:6-21 In the Old Testament, the high priest was the substitute and representative of Israel, symbolized by the stones on his shoulder and the stones in the breast piece of judgment. Wherever he went, Israel went with him and whatever he did, Israel did with him. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament high priest. In whatever He did, He functioned as the substitute and representative of New Testament Israel, the church, His body. Thus, when He died, the members of His body died with Him. Baptism is a sign and seal of our having died and been buried with Christ. Because circumcision in the Old Testament, made with hands, was an identity marker that members of the church had been cut off from the life of the flesh in the world and the flesh in their hearts – the old order of life – and had been placed in the church – the new order of life – Paul calls our having been buried with Christ in baptism the circumcision of Christ, one made without hands. It is a sign and seal that in Christ we have died to the life of the flesh in the world and the flesh that lives in our hearts. Thus, as circumcision was a reminder of what being a member of God’s covenant community entailed, so baptism reminds us of the same. If we are to be a blessing for the world, we need to daily die to the ways of the flesh of the world and the flesh of our hearts. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you where you need to die to the flesh so that you can be a blessing 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....

Daily devotional

March 27 – Circumcision as a sign of the goal of God’s creation

“You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.” – Genesis 17:11 Scripture reading: Genesis 17:9-14 I have a NEXUS card, which serves as one of my identity markers. It identifies me as a low-risk traveler who can cross the Canadian-American border quickly. It also gives me privileges at certain airports. Circumcision, as a sign of God’s covenant community, is also an identity marker. It identifies males as members of this community and reminds them (and the females) of what being a member of this covenant community entails. As the flesh of the male’s foreskin was cut off, so members of God’s covenant community are cut off from the ways of the flesh of the world. Being circumcised symbolizes that they have been separated from the ways of the world and consecrated to the ways of God. They are to walk before God, in His loving, holy presence in the Holy Spirit, and be blameless, wholeheartedly devoted to God. In addition, circumcision symbolizes that members of God’s covenant community are cut off from the ways of the flesh in their hearts. Outward circumcision is not enough, their hearts need to be circumcised as well (cf. Rom. 2:25-29). Only in this way can God use His covenant community, His church, to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. The hearts of the members of the church need to be circumcised and the ways of the flesh need to be cut out of their hearts. Otherwise, they will be cut off from God’s covenant community. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to daily remind you what it entails to be a member of His covenant community with regard to the ways of the flesh that still live in our hearts. 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....

Daily devotional

March 26 – God’s second covenant with Abraham and the goal of creation (2)

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” – Genesis 17:7 Scripture Genesis 17:1-8 When God made His two covenants with Noah, He continually spoke about making "My covenant." In doing so, God was drawing attention to the fact that He would take care that His commitment to Noah, his family, and creation and His commitment to His mission for His glory would be fulfilled. Nothing would shake this commitment. With this second covenant with Abram, God does the same. He continually speaks about “My covenant,” essentially drawing attention to the fact that because He is God Almighty, He will take care of fulfilling the promises He made to Abram so that he and his descendants can be a blessing for the world. Because God’s covenant with Abram is “His covenant” with him, God repeats His promises to Abram in a more lavish and generous manner than before. Abram would become exceedingly fruitful and be the father of a multitude of nations. Consequently, God changes Abram’s name to bring it in line with this fruitful destiny. No longer would he be called Abram, but Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” Moreover, kings would come forth from this multitude of nations of which Abraham would be the father. Furthermore, God’s covenant with Abraham would be an everlasting covenant. The heart of this everlasting covenant is that God would be God to them. In other words, there will always be descendants of Abraham who will live in God’s loving presence in the Spirit and be a blessing for the world by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that He will fulfill His purpose for you and His church in a new heaven and 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....

Daily devotional

March 25 – God’s second covenant with Abraham and the goal of creation (1)

“I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly…” – Genesis 17:1b-2 Scripture reading: Genesis 17:1-8 After making a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15, God makes a new covenant with him in Genesis 17. Yesterday, we read why this was necessary. By being people and places where heaven and earth would meet, Abram and Sarai had to realize the fulfillment of God’s promise of a great nation through which God wanted to deal with the chaos and disorder caused by Adam. They tried to do this through the flesh of the world and the flesh in their own hearts, leading to uncertainty whether God can still use Abram and Sarai for this purpose. Thus, it should not surprise us that when God addresses Abram, He does so as "God Almighty." He says to Abram that He can deal with the problem of their childlessness, making the barren fertile so that he can be a blessing for the world. Moreover, it should not surprise us that God commands Abram to walk before Him. You need to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. You need to live in My holy presence and reflect My holy glory. You need to be blameless. You need to be wholehearted in your service of Me. You need to surrender everything to Me and be completely devoted to Me. Only in this way can I use you in My mission for My glory and make all things new in a world where My people and My world will once again dwell in My loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you what changes you may need to make in your life so that you are living in His holy presence and reflecting His holy 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....

Daily devotional

March 24 – The flesh of the world and the flesh of our own hearts

“And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.” – Genesis 16:4a Scripture reading: Genesis 16:1-16 Last week Wednesday, I wrote that if we want to succeed in being a blessing for the world by being people and places where heaven and earth meet, we need to entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, opening ourselves to His entrance into our souls with His Holy Spirit so that He becomes flesh and blood in our lives. For Abram and Sarai to succeed in being a second Adam and Eve who would bless the world and deal with the problem caused by Adam’s sin by being people where heaven and earth meet, they too would have to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. However, our Scripture reading shows us that both of them intentionally choose to live in the flesh when it concerns the fulfillment of God’s promise to make them into a great nation. Instead of waiting on God to fulfill His promise in His time, they take matters into their own hands and try to fulfill God’s promise their way, by having Abram go into Hagar and father a child with her according to the cultural custom of those days. But this is not how we succeed in being a blessing for the world. If we want to bless the world by being people and places where heaven and earth meet, we need to live in the Spirit and not the flesh of the world or the flesh of our own hearts. All the misery that the birth of Ishmael brought about is clearly proof of this truth. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you where the flesh of the world or the flesh of your own heart is hindering you in succeeding to become a blessing for the world by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

March 23 – The blood of the Covenant

“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…” – Matthew 26:28 Scripture reading: Matthew 26:26-29 On Saturday, we saw that God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walked between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. When the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, He picked up on the image of the blood of the animals that were used to cut a covenant (cf. also Exodus 24:8). He told his disciples that when they drink from the cup during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him, this cup with wine symbolizes His blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. This shows us that when God swore an oath that if He did not fulfill His promise of giving Abram and his descendants the land of Canaan which foreshadowed the new heaven and new earth, He would cut Himself in half, He meant what He said. For while God did not need to cut Himself in half in order to fulfill his promise of the possession of the land of Canaan, because of our sin, He did need to cut Himself in half in order to fulfill the promise of what this land foreshadowed: the fullness of the eternal kingdom of God. In the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God cut Himself in half in order to remove the obstacle of sin that hindered us from inheriting the new heaven and new earth. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the blood of the covenant that removed the obstacle of your sin so you can receive your reward of faith and enter the coming kingdom of heaven. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 22 – The land of Canaan and the New Heaven and the New Earth

“For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” – Hebrews 11:10 Scripture reading: Hebrews 11:8-16 God is on a mission for His glory to make all things new in a world where His people and His world will once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. This means that the Christian life is a journey to this glorious life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence of God, also known as the fullness of God’s eternal Sabbath rest. From our Scripture reading, it would seem that Abraham understood this. We are told that he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Moreover, it tells us that he acknowledged that he was a stranger and exile on earth who desired a far better country than the one he had just left, namely, a heavenly country, a city prepared for him by God. This means that the land of Canaan, in addition to being a real land, also functions as a type or foreshadowing of the new heaven and the new earth. And just as God dealt with the problem of uncertainty in Abraham’s life with regard to the possession of the land of Canaan by making a covenant with him that guaranteed His commitment to this promise, so God also deals with any uncertainty we may have that His commitment to His mission for His glory, resulting in a new heaven and a new earth, will be fulfilled with this same covenant. May He be cut in half if He does not fulfill this promise for us. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to hang on loosely to this world and the things of this world as you travel the journey to the new heaven and new earth as a stranger and sojourner on this 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....

Daily devotional

March 21 – God’s first covenant with Abram and the goal of creation

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram...” – Genesis 15:18 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21 I trust you have not forgotten what I wrote about biblical covenants between God and His people. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem in this relationship that causes uncertainty. Against this background of the function of covenants in God’s relationship with His people, it should not surprise us that we once again read about a covenant, for there is a problem in Abram’s relationship with his God that causes uncertainty. God has just promised to give Abram and his descendants the gift of the land of Canaan, but Abram is not sure whether this will indeed happen, for he says to God, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Abram wants God to guarantee His commitment of giving him and his descendants the land of Canaan, possibly still in the light of the fact that he does not have a biological heir and that his wife is barren, even though he had believed that God would give him descendants as countless as the stars in the heavens. So, God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walk between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. Except, in this covenant, only God walks between the bloody carcasses of the animals. In doing so, He is swearing an oath: “May I be cut in half if I do not fulfill my promise of giving you the land of Canaan”. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to the deep significance of His covenant commitment to you (and your children). 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....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Faith and its reward

“And he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.’” – Genesis 15:7 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21 Yesterday, we saw that Abram believed God and God counted this posture of faith to him as righteousness. If we want to do justice to our relationship with God, we need to consider His promises to be trustworthy and entrust ourselves to this promising God. That is the way to live in a right relationship with God. Today, we see that God rewards this posture of faith with the gift of land. In Genesis 15:1, God had said to Abram that his reward would be very great. Today, we read that this reward is the gift of the land of Canaan. The land was a sort of second Garden of Eden where the nations would be drawn into the glorious presence of God and begin to reflect this life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence to one another as well by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. God had promised the land when Abram first arrived in Canaan. He had repeated the promise when Abram and Lot had separated. Now God makes the promise again as a reward for his posture of faith. New this time is that the geographical markers of the land are included as well as the fact that Abram’s descendants would first be sojourners in the land of Egypt before they would possess the land because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. This latter fact shows us God’s patience towards sinners. Not all sin warrants immediate destruction; only the full measure of sin. Suggestions for prayer Since faith in God’s promises and entrusting ourselves to this promising God is the means God uses to receive us into His eternal kingdom, ask your heavenly Father daily to strengthen your 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....

Daily devotional

March 19 – Doubting the fulfillment of God’s mission for His glory

“And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’” – Genesis 15:6 Scripture reading: Genesis 15:1-6 Do you ever doubt that God will succeed in His mission for His glory, making all things new in a world where His people and His world will again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet? Living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence and reflecting this glorious presence to all those around you, it's all yours as a reward, when you consider the promises of God to be trustworthy and entrust yourself to the God of this promise. Abram also has his doubts about a promise of God: that he would become a great nation. How can he become a great nation if he does not even have one child and his wife is barren? Abram is asked to believe this promise, but this promise, humanly speaking, cannot be fulfilled. So God comes to Abram’s help, appearing to him in a vision, telling him not to be afraid, for He is his shield. Moreover, his reward shall be very great. His promise that he will become a great nation is trustworthy. God then takes Abram outside, tells him to look at the sky and try to count the stars. God assures Abram that his descendants would be as countless as the stars of heaven. Abram believed God and God counted this to him as righteousness, i.e. believing God’s promises and entrusting yourself to the God of these promises is an attitude that does justice to your relationship with God. Suggestions for prayer If you have any doubts about the fulfillment of God’s mission for His glory, ask your heavenly Father to remove them. If you have no doubts, ask Him to continue to spare you these doubts. 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....

Daily devotional

March 18 – Succeeding in being a blessing for the world

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” – Galatians 3:9 Scripture reading: Galatians 3:1-14   Israel failed to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by being a people and a place where heaven and earth meet, but God sent His own Son into the world to do what Israel failed to do. The Lord Jesus Christ perfectly reflected the glorious presence of His heavenly Father by being a person where heaven and earth beautifully met. He perfectly lived for the other with the sacrifices of His life and His death. In Him, all the families of the earth are blessed when they identify with Him and are joined to Him through faith. When they do, they receive the promised Holy Spirit, Who enables them to live for the other by becoming people where heaven and earth meet, because the Holy Spirit reproduces the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in them like a vine reproduces its life in the branches so that God’s mission for His glory is worked out in and through them. What the Lord Jesus Christ did with the sacrifices of His life and His death, He did for you as your substitute and representative. What He has done for you, He now wants to do in you as you entrust yourself to Him, opening yourself to Him entering into your soul with His Holy Spirit so that He becomes flesh and blood in your life. And you can say with the apostle Paul that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in you (Galatians 2:20). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to enable you to live in the Spirit, through faith, so that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in 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....

Daily devotional

March 17 – Failure to be a blessing for the world

“They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them.” – 2 Kings 17:15b Scripture reading: 2 Kings 17:6-23 God encouraged Abram to make a complete break with his past, go to the land of Canaan and be a blessing by living for the other, the nations, by promising him that He would make him into a great nation and that the nations around him would identify with him and his God. In fact, in him, all the families of the earth would be blessed. Were these two promises fulfilled in the Old Testament? Well, the promise of becoming a great nation was fulfilled, even though Sarai was barren and Abraham himself was already 75 years old, and it took another 25 years before Isaac was born. However, Jacob had twelve sons and traveled to Egypt with a family of 70. In due time Israel entered Canaan with a few million people under the leadership of Joshua and reached its high point as a great nation during the time of David and Solomon. But what about the promise of an international community? Did the nations bless Israel? Were they on good terms with Israel and did they identify with this nation and their God? Was this promise fulfilled in the Old Testament? No, it was not, because Israel wanted to be just like the nations. They were idolatrous, worshipping and serving the things of this world instead of worshipping and serving God and their neighbor and living for the other by being people and places where heaven and earth meet, reflecting the glorious presence of their God and drawing others into this glorious presence. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you whether there is any idolatry in your life that hinders you in living for the other. 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....

Daily devotional

March 16 – Blessed to be a blessing

“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:2-3  Scripture reading: Genesis 12:1-9 God makes a new beginning and calls Abram and Sarai. He is going to use them as a new Adam and Eve and deal with the problem caused by their sin. He is going to use them to subdue the chaos and disorder caused by sin and to invite humanity and creation into His Sabbath rest by reflecting God’s glory through being people and places where heaven and earth meet. In order to do so, He calls Abram to make a complete break with his past, to leave behind everything that is dear to him and to go to the land that He would show him. However, the whole father’s house leaves the city of Ur and travels to the land of Canaan. They settle down in Haran. That’s why Genesis 12:1 can be translated, “God had said to Abram....” It would seem that God renewed the call that He had made in Ur. He encouraged Abram with the same promises He had made in Ur: the promise of a great nation and of an international community. But the latter promise would depend on a nation’s attitude to Abram. Those who would be on good terms with him and identify with him and his God, God would bless. However, those who would be hostile to him and treat him lightly, God would curse. But God’s overriding concern was that in Abram all the families of the earth would be blessed. God blessed Abram to be a blessing by living for the other, the nations. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you how He has blessed you. Then ask Him to use these blessings for the sake of the other. 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....

Daily devotional

March 15 – Called to be a blessing for the world

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.’" – Genesis 12:1 Scripture reading: Genesis 11:27-32 How are you a blessing to those outside the church as an individual and as a Christian congregation, living for the other by being a person and a place where heaven and earth meet? God had also called Noah and his family to be a blessing for the world by living for the other and by subduing the chaos and disorder in the world by increasingly entering into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest and urging others to do the same. But the chaos and disorder were not subdued because the intention of the human heart was still evil. And so the chaos and disorder only got worse. However, because God had promised not to destroy humanity and creation with a flood, He confused their language and dispersed them over the face of the earth. So, what does God do? Does He give up? No, He does not! He cannot give up because He is on a mission for His glory to make all things new in a world where His people and His world will once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. And He had demonstrated His commitment to advance this goal of His creation with a covenant with Noah and a second covenant with him and all of creation. And so, God makes a new beginning. He calls Abram to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by becoming a people and place where heaven and earth meet. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to be a blessing for the world and to live for the other by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

March 14 – The rainbow as a sign of the goal of God’s Creation

“I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:13 Scripture reading: Genesis 9:12-17  We have seen that in the Old Testament the Sabbath was a sign of the goal of God’s creation. For Israel, the Sabbath was the weekly reminder to enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by being people where heaven and earth meet. It is as well a promise that one day this fullness, where God will be all in all, would descend from heaven on a new earth. For New Testament believers, Sunday is a weekly reminder that they are a new creation in Christ, called to bear witness to this new creation by being people where heaven and earth meet. It is as well, a promise that they will bear witness to the fullness of this new creation when Christ returns. Today, we see that God gives another sign of the goal of His new creation: the rainbow. But signs only function in our life of faith to the extent that we remember them. We need to remember them and allow them to become constructive forces in our consciousness that shape the way we think and behave. However, the interesting thing in our Scripture reading is that God says that when the rainbow is seen in the clouds, He will remember His covenant with Noah and creation. This means that He will act upon His covenant commitment and bring the goal of His creation to fruition in a glorious new heaven and earth where a new humanity and creation will live in His loving presence and participate in His life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to help you cultivate the spiritual discipline of remembering the signs of the goal of His creation. 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....

Daily devotional

March 13 – God’s covenant with Noah and Creation

“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you....” – Genesis 9:9-10a Scripture reading: Genesis 8:20-22; 9:9-11 Covenants between God and His people regulate the relationship He has with them and are often meant to deal with a problem that causes uncertainty in the relationship. We read how God did that with Noah before He came with the waters of the flood. After the flood, God makes a new covenant with Noah and his family as well as with all of creation. This shows us another aspect of biblical covenants between God and His people. A new covenant often updates an earlier covenant to the new situation that it is dealing with. You can see this, for instance, with an engagement covenant and a marriage covenant. The marriage covenant simply regulates and updates the engagement covenant to the new situation of the marriage. The new situation of God’s second covenant with Noah, now also including creation, is the new situation of continuing to live in a world that has once been destroyed by a flood. The problem that causes uncertainty in this new situation is the fact that the human heart was not cleansed with the water of the flood. The intention of man's heart is still evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). But whereas before the flood, humanity’s depravity was the ground for God’s judgment, now this depravity becomes the ground for God’s mercy. God promises to never destroy the earth with a flood again. In doing so, He guarantees His commitment to the goal of His creation. He seals this commitment and guarantees it by establishing His covenant with Noah and creation. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that His commitment to a glorious new heaven and new earth is firm and sure. 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....

Daily devotional

March 12 – The recreation of Creation

“And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” – Genesis 8:1b  Scripture reading: Genesis 8:1-9:7 After 150 days, God made a wind blow over the earth so that the waters began to recede. The Hebrew word for ‘wind’ is the same word that is used for ‘Spirit’. This reminds us of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters in Genesis one. This is an indication that as God began with His work of creation in Genesis one, so now He will begin with His work of recreation in Genesis eight. This is confirmed when we compare God’s work of recreation with His work of creation described in Genesis one. After God made a wind blow over the earth so that the waters began to recede, He had the living creatures in the ark leave it and begin to repopulate the earth, reminding us of the way God populated the sky and the earth with living creatures during days five and six of creation. In Genesis eight, we read about God re-establishing the days and seasons, reminding us of day four of creation when He put the light-bearers in the sky to mark the seasons, days and years. In Genesis nine we read about Noah and his sons being blessed and commanded to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and have dominion over it. In Genesis one we read about this same command being given to Adam and Eve. In Genesis nine we read about God providing food for Noah and his family. In Genesis one He did the same for Adam and Eve. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for the work of His Spirit in the renewal of creation (Ps. 104:30). Thank Him especially for the spiritual renewal that His Spirit works in 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....

Daily devotional

March 11 – The uncreation of Creation

“...on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” – Genesis 7:11 Scripture reading: Genesis 7:1-24 This past Sunday, we read about human wickedness being so great during the time of Noah that people thought and imagined evil continually. All this wickedness and evil was essentially a disintegration and uncreation of the form and order of God’s good creation. In Genesis one, God saw that everything was very good. Now, in Genesis six, He sees that everything is very wicked. Thus, this uncreation is a return to the disorder and formlessness of before the six days of creation. This is what sin always is. Because sin is an intentional refusal to live in the form and order that God has given to life, it inevitably results in the uncreation of this form and order. Just think how this is manifested in the sexual and gender ideologies of today as well as in your own life. Since all this wickedness is a return to the disorder and formlessness of before the six days of creation, when God comes in judgment He simply completes the uncreation of creation that the wickedness had resulted in. He tears the protective canopy, opening windows in it, and has rain come down for forty days and forty nights. He tears the dry land and has the fountains of the deep burst forth for forty days and forty nights. As a result, creation returns to the formless, watery mass from before the six days of creation. At least, this is all that is seen for 150 days. God completes the uncreation that all the sin and had caused. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to the uncreation of creation that sin causes in your own life and pray for healing. 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....

Daily devotional

March 10 – God’s covenant with Noah (2)

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.” – Genesis 6:18  Scripture reading: Genesis 6:9-21  Covenants between God and His people regulate the relationship He has with them and often deal with a problem that causes uncertainty in the relationship. There are two problems that occasion God’s covenant with Noah. First, there is the problem whether Noah and his family and the animals in the ark will really survive the waters of the flood. In order to deal with this problem and the uncertainty that it causes, God makes a covenant with Noah. Just like a groom pledges his commitment to his bride in a marriage covenant, so God pledges His commitment to Noah in the covenant He makes with him. Noah, his family and the handpicked animals will survive the waters of the flood. Second, there is the problem of God’s goal for His creation. God is on a mission for His glory to make all things new in a world where His people and His world will once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet. Now that God has decided to destroy humanity and His creation with the waters of the flood, except for Noah, his family and the animals in the ark, will He still be able to achieve the goal of His creation? The answer is Yes! Because God’s covenant with Noah is His covenant with him, God will take care that His commitment to the goal of His creation will be fulfilled. This commitment will be confirmed and established! Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that His commitment to a new heaven and new earth, where we will live in the fullness of His loving presence, is firm and sure. 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....

Daily devotional

March 9 – God’s covenant with Noah (1)

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.” – Genesis 6:18 Scripture reading: Genesis 6:9-21  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, honor 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 the relationship. After the fall into sin, all sorts of uncertainty crept into relationships. And so, 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? Well, this is necessary because of the fall into sin. Because of the fall into sin, there often is 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 Noah. Suggestions for prayer When you feel uncertainty in your relationship with your heavenly Father, ask Him to take this away by having you focus on His commitment to you, signed and sealed with your baptism, a promise 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....

Daily devotional

March 8 – God’s decision to destroy humanity and Creation

“So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” – Genesis 6:7 Scripture reading: Genesis 6:1-8 Today is Sunday. A day on which we remember that the Lord Jesus Christ successfully dealt with the problem of sin, death and the devil with His death on the cross, and ushered in the new creation which had been the goal of God’s first creation: a creation where we cannot sin, cannot die, where there is no devil, and where we bask directly in the light of the glorious, loving presence of God. Sunday is also a day on which we are encouraged to bear witness to the new creation that we are in Christ, by resting from our evil ways and letting the Lord work in us through His Spirit. In doing so we begin the eternal Sabbath in this life. Our Scripture reading is also about evil works. Human wickedness was so great during the time of Noah that people thought and imagined evil continually from morning to night. This evil was so bad that God was sorry that He had made the human race and decided He would blot it out from the face of the earth, including the birds in the air and the animals on the ground; with the exception of Noah and his family, for Noah was a righteous man who walked with God and found favour in God’s eyes. In order to keep Noah and his family alive, as well as at least one pair of every sort of animal, God commands Noah to build an ark to house him and his family and the animals. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for this day of rest He gave you. Ask Him to enable you to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life so that you can learn to rest from your evil works and begin in this life the eternal Sabbath. 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....

Daily devotional

March 7 – Finding rest in the Lord Jesus Christ

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:7-19; 4:11  Wednesday, we noticed that God commanded Adam and Eve to enter the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by extending the borders of the Garden of Eden over the whole earth through having an extended family that would spread the glorious presence of God. Moreover, they were to do this by subduing the earth and having dominion over it. Yesterday, we noticed that Adam and Eve failed in fulfilling this task through their lack of obedience. What happened to Adam and Eve, happened time and again throughout history. For instance, the people of Israel were also called to be people and places where heaven and earth meet, reflecting God’s glorious presence to one another and the nations around them. However, they also failed to fulfill their task. Accordingly, many of the desert generation did not enter into the rest of the Promised Land and those who did enter, did not enter into the fullness of God’s promised rest that this land foreshadowed. The Hebrew Christians were running the risk of making the same mistake. Accordingly, they are urged to strive to enter into the fullness of this rest. They and we do this by coming to Jesus and being yoked or joined to Him through faith. When we do, He will not only reproduce His own Sabbath rest in our lives, enabling us to be people where heaven and earth meet, but He also safely leads us to the fullness of this Sabbath rest on the new earth. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to daily enable you to go to the Lord Jesus Christ through faith and experience the rest He gives. 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....

Daily devotional

March 6 – The Sunday as a sign of the goal of God’s creation

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17  Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-11 Even though God had blessed Adam and Eve for their task of extending the glorious presence of God over the whole earth, Adam and Eve failed in fulfilling this task. As a result, the chaos and disorder that God had subdued with His six days of creation, slowly but surely, began to return in God’s good and harmonious creation. We know this chaos as sin, death and the devil. In order for God to fulfill the goal of His creation, He has to deal with this threefold problem of sin, death and the devil. He does so by sending into this broken world, His Son, Who paid the penalty of sin, broke the power of sin, cleansed the pollution of sin, destroyed the partition caused by sin, and defeated death and the devil. When the Lord Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, He demonstrated that He had successfully dealt with the problem of sin, death and the devil by ushering in the new creation that had always been the goal of God’s first creation. When we are united to Christ through faith, we experience the first fruits of this glorious new creation through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Sunday, the first day of the week, is a weekly sign or reminder of our being a new creation in Christ and a promise that one day we will enter into the fullness of the rest of this new creation.  Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you in how you can bear witness to those around you that you are a new creation 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....

Daily devotional

March 5 – The Sabbath day as a sign of the goal of God’s Creation

“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: Exodus 31:12-17 Before God commanded Adam and Eve to extend the glorious presence of God over the whole earth, God blessed them for this task. When God blesses people for a certain task, this blessing is meant to make them fruitful for their task. After God had created for six days, He rested on the seventh day. In addition, He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. If in Genesis 1, blessing people for their task means making them fruitful in fulfilling their task, then blessing a day in Genesis 2, would mean making this day fruitful for the fulfilling of its task. Thus, it should not surprise us that God made the seventh day holy, i.e. He set it apart and made it a special day for the fulfillment of the purpose for which He had blessed it. From what we have seen so far, we can conclude that right from the beginning the seventh day was a reminder for Adam and Eve and their posterity of the goal of creation: to increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest by extending the glorious presence of God throughout the whole earth through being people where heaven and earth meet. Accordingly, it should not surprise us that when God enters into a covenant with Israel, the seventh day officially becomes a sign of this goal of creation; a weekly reminder to enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest as well as a promise that one day this fullness will descend from heaven on a new earth. Suggestions for prayer Read the second part of Answer 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism and pray this back to your heavenly Father. 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....

Daily devotional

March 4 – Entering God’s rest

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:26-28  Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26-28  So far we have seen that God created for His glory. This not only means that human beings and creation were to praise God, but also that they would reflect the life-giving, light-giving and loving presence of God. We further saw that there is a relationship between God creating for His glory and God resting on the seventh day. Because the seventh day was meant to last forever, this day is the goal of God’s creation. In other words, having humanity and creation praise God and reflect His glorious presence involves increasingly entering into the fullness of God’s rest, enjoying God’s beautiful and harmonious creation, and celebrating the rest and peace that God’s creation radiates. Genesis one shows us what this would look like for Adam and Eve. God made them in His image, i.e. as His representatives who would reflect and embody His presence as they cultivated and maintained the Garden of Eden. Moreover, God blessed them, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. This meant that Adam and Eve were to extend the borders of the Garden of Eden over the whole earth by having children and grandchildren and a whole extended family that would spread the glorious presence of God. In doing so, humanity and creation would increasingly enter into the fullness of God’s Sabbath rest, reaching God’s goal of creation through their faithful living in God’s loving presence and reflecting this loving presence through their obedience of faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to spread the life of heaven by being a person where heaven and earth meet. 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....

Daily devotional

March 3 – God’s glory and God’s rest

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” – Genesis 2:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 4:1-11 In Genesis one, we read about God bringing form in formlessness by subduing chaos and disorder. The first three days He forms light, sky, land and vegetation. Then for three days, He fills the forms: light-bearers for the day and night, birds and fish in the sky and water, and animals and people on the land. In the beginning of Genesis two, we read about God resting on the seventh day. First, God rests from His work of creating, but it also means that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Truly, everything that He had made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory. This harmonious creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail that is missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days of creating, we read that there was an evening and a morning. However, with the seventh day, we do not read this. This does not mean that the seventh day did not have an evening and a morning. However, by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s good creation was meant to last forever. Not in the beginning stage as we saw yesterday, but in the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and the new earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God on which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for your hope of glory: entering into the fullness of the joyful rest and peace of God’s loving presence. 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....

Daily devotional

March 2 – God created for His glory

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23  Scripture reading: Revelation 21:9-22 Why did God create the world? God created for His glory so that human beings and creation would praise Him. However, the glory of God also means His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. Thus, God not only created the world so that human beings and creation would praise Him, but also so that human beings and creation would live in His loving presence and reflect this by participating in His life, light and love. However, when we look at the end of Scripture, we see 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. In other words, there is room for growth to the perfection and fullness of living in God’s life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. You see this, for instance, in the fact that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, there were sun, moon and stars. But in the end, with the new heaven and the new earth, there will be no sun, moon, or stars, for creation and humanity will bask directly in the light of the glory of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is even more. While Adam and Eve could sin and die in the beginning, in the end, God’s new humanity will not be able to sin and die. We will be incorruptible and immortal just like God. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to live not only so that people will praise Him, but also so that you reflect His life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. 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....

Daily devotional

March 1 – Introduction to God’s mission for His glory

This month’s meditations will be about God’s mission for His glory. God created the world for His glory, that humanity and creation would reflect His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence 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 once again abide in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). However, from the end of Scripture, we know that 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. In other words, right from the beginning of God’s good creation there was room for growth to reach the perfection and fullness of living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. The biblical covenants made or cut in Scripture are designed with a view to advancing and guaranteeing 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. Covenants often deal with a problem that causes uncertainty in this relationship. A new covenant often updates an earlier one to the new situation that the new covenant is facing. Because of space restrictions, these mediations only focus on the biblical covenants mentioned in the book of Genesis. That’s why I have entitled these meditations: God’s Mission for His Glory and His Covenants with Noah, Creation, and Abraham. I look forward to continuing this series some time in the future and deal with God’s mission for His glory and His covenants with Israel, His covenant with David and the promise of a new covenant. But that will have to wait for some other time. I enjoyed writing these meditations. I was edified in doing so. I hope and pray that you will be too. **** “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell 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. As such, they participated in His life, light and love and reflected this to one another and throughout the Garden. This made Adam and Eve people where heaven and earth meet. And it made the Garden of Eden a place where heaven and earth meet. As such, Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden reflected the glory of God, 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 as they once used to. Moreover, they no longer lived in a place, nor were they people where heaven and earth met, 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. All things would be made new, where 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. What a beautiful and encouraging mission this is! 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....

Daily devotional

February 29 – Taw

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” – Psalm 119:176 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:169-176 This Psalm ends with an appeal to God to seek the servant who has strayed. He is talking about himself. He ends this great psalm with the confession that he still is so unworthy of God’s favor and blessing. That’s hard to imagine given all we’ve heard and learn about his love for the law. Yes, he desires blessing. Yes, he understands that the one who lives according to the will of God in all good works will be happy. Yes, he knows that the man whose way is blameless, who walks in the law of the LORD, will be blessed (Psalm 119:1). But that’s just his point. He desires a blessing, a gift from a merciful God. No one deserves God’s presence. No one deserves to be truly and forever happy. For we all like sheep have gone astray. Thank God that He sent His only Son to be the good Shepherd of the sheep. He came to be our protector from all harm –from Satan who prowls around like a roaring lion. In doing so, He was willing to sacrifice Himself and be the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Thank God that He sends His Spirit, working faith, working renewal, so that we desire life and we desire obedience to God’s law. Thank God that He gives us a new nature so we desire to give our whole life, A to Z, to God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the law which He has given us, His Word to guide and lead us in our lives. Ask Him to work in us a true and full love for His law, forever. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 28 – Sin and shin (2): Shalom!

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” – Psalm 119:165 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:161-168 There isn’t just one well-known word in this stanza (seven). There are two! The other is one of the most famous words of all in Hebrew – a word that has basically become an English word too. This is the word shalom. Peace. At this point in his acrostic song about God’s law, how could the psalmist not come up with this household word? To love the law of God and to obey His commandments brings great peace in our lives. Understand this is not an outward peace or a prosperity gospel, even though it is true that obedience to God’s law in all of life does lead to much blessing, security and peace amongst family, friends and neighbors. Who doesn’t enjoy being in the presence of a person who is content, peaceful, certain, confident, positive and happy? People who love God and love His law are generally people like that. But no, shalom is most of all an inner peace, an inner confidence and contentment, in all circumstances, including times of stress, suffering, sickness and persecution. This same peace filled the followers of Jesus Christ who were facing the enemy in the Roman amphitheater about to die by wild animals, or who were being burned at the stake for defending the faith, or who were losing their property because of their faith. Nothing could make them stumble. Nothing could rob them of their peace. Jesus Christ is our Peace. He, Himself, is the pioneer of peaceful faith and obedience. He willingly subjected Himself to the terror of the cross in order to obey perfectly His heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your heavenly Father will give you this peace in your heart. Pray for the true and living faith which means nothing can rob you of that peace. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 27 – Sin and shin (1): Perfection

“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” – Psalm 119:164 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:161-168 One of the very well-known and well-used words of the Bible is found in this section. It is the number “seven” (shavveh). It’s a number that means completion, fullness or totality. It’s also a word that indicates rest, for the word for rest (sabbath) is also derived from the number seven in Hebrew. The psalmist’s devotion to God, his love for the law and his zeal to obey his covenant God, is cloaked in the superlative. His service to God is not just good, it’s not only better, but it’s the best he can give. Seven times a day he praises God for His law. Seven times is not to be taken literally, so that we set aside certain times of the day which we rigidly and religiously follow (and then, not even seven, but five, or three, or less!) Rather, it indicates that the psalmist’s life is filled with and bound up in praise to his heavenly Father. Since his day is filled with serving God and praising Him, the psalmist experiences true rest. By the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in him, he rests from his evil works and begins in this life the eternal Sabbath. This is the complete life for the believer. This is the restful life: to fill life with praise to God and to be busy obey His law and willingly serving in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you live a full life of service and praise to Him, thereby experiencing true and complete rest. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 26 – Resh: Look, consider, and act

“Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!” – Psalm 119:153, 154 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:153-160 The Psalmist requests God to look upon him and to see his affliction. He pleads with the LORD to observe his desire to live according to God’s will as well as to obey His law. He asks his heavenly Father to consider how he stands up for His holy Name. There is more to such asking. We do not only ask God to look on us and see what we are doing, to see what is transpiring in our lives. We also ask God to look because our desire, our goal, is that God will also respond and act. “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to Your promise!” (154). God will see that we are afflicted, God will observe that we trust in Him, God will take note of our faith and desire to live for Him and hear us! He will respond! God having looked upon mankind has resulted in our redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. God saw that man had sinned. God saw the effects of that fall upon His chosen ones. Therefore, God sent a Saviour to us. How comforting it is to know that God looks upon us in love and compassion! (156). Will you, in turn, look to God for His help and care? When you do, be assured, He will look upon you according to His grace and steadfast love and provide you with what you need! Suggestions for prayer Pray to God that He looks upon you in all your circumstances and considers your needs and acts upon them. Just as He has acted in sending His Son, ask Him also to act today by fill you with His Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 25 – Qoph: Reliance

“Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.” – Psalm 119:149 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:145-152 With his enemies attacking, the psalmist cries out to God to answer him (145), to save him (146) and to grant him help (148). In return for deliverance, he promises obedience to God’s law. He doesn’t believe God will deliver him because of what he will do. Rather, he describes what has already been central in his life – a devotion to God, a love for His law and a desire to serve. In thankful covenant response, he has been continually meditating on God’s Word. Every day, he is deep in God’s Word well before dawn: “I rise before the dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (148,149). He is and always will be up and at it before the sun rises. Thus, the psalmist expresses confidence that the LORD will answer his cries willingly. First, he relies on God’s love and justice. “Hear my voice, according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life” (149). According to His mercy and having sworn an oath by Himself, because there is nothing greater by which to swear, God will keep His word. Second, the psalmist relies on God’s nearness (150,151). Even when deep in enemy territory, even when the enemy taunts, “Where is your God, now?”, the psalmist depends on the truth that God is always near. Third, he relies on the LORD’s faithfulness (152). Enemies, powers, civilizations, come and go, rise and fall. But God is as dependable as the sun rising every morning. God’s covenant promises are absolutely reliable. Suggestions for prayer Call upon the Lord, on the basis of His promises, for the sake of Jesus Christ, to help you in your needs. Plead on His faithfulness and nearness, to grant you forgiveness of your sins and to guide you by the Holy Spirit in the renewal of your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 24 – Tsadhe (2): Righteous by faith

“My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words…Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.” – Psalm 119:139, 144 Scripture reading: Romans 1:16-25 In this stanza, we see that the psalmist is in agreement with that greatest of scholars, the apostle Paul himself, and with the greatest of his writings, the book of Romans. He is also especially in agreement with the central theme of Scriptures, the gospel of salvation, which is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16,17). Through faith, by God’s grace alone, we can be righteous. Washed through the cleansing of Christ’s blood and filled with Christ’s righteousness, we are blessed with salvation and life forever. Also, filled with the Spirit, we walk in newness of life and begin already in this life to live in the righteous (obedient) deeds of thankfulness. We are conceived and born in sin and thus subject to all sorts of misery in this life, even to condemnation: “I am small and despised” (141), and, “Trouble and anguish have found me out” (143). Nevertheless, we experience the coming to life of the new nature, the rebirth, regeneration and renewal through the Holy Spirit, so that “zeal consumes me” (139) and “your commandments are my delight” (143). Further. “Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it” (140)! By the grace of God, working faith, we are saved from sin and misery and God’s law is our joy and delight! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God fills you continually with His Holy Spirit so that you are assured of your righteousness before God through faith alone and that you are zealous for good deeds in His kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 23 – Tsadhe (1): Righteousness

“Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules…Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.” – Psalm 119:137, 142 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:137-144 This is one of the letters the psalmist has been eagerly waiting for as he writes this psalm. It begins one of the greatest words of Scripture: righteousness. Three of the eight verses in this stanza begin with this letter, and it is found two more times as well. The theme of this stanza speaks for itself! God is righteous! That’s how the stanza begins. His law is righteous forever (144). That’s how it ends. His righteousness is righteous forever (142)! What else could it be? In the book of Revelation the holy God is revealed as righteous and just, Who exacts His holy wrath and vengeance against evil and the evil one. God pours out the bowls of His wrath against His enemies and the enemy of His church (Revelation 16:5,7). God’s wrath is pure and right. He judges the wicked righteously (Revelation 19:2). When you go to church today, realize what is happening…or better yet, what is allowed to happen! We sinners are being invited into the presence of the holy and just God! Since God is righteous, that should never be allowed. But it is, because God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus’ payment covers God’s wrath. Jesus Christ bore the fullness of God’s wrath for His people, so that we may become righteous and holy, and enjoy God’s presence and blessing forever! As we are justified through faith, let us also seek to grow in sanctified living. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that it is possible to be in the presence of our holy and righteous God. Pray earnestly for the forgiveness of your sins. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 22 – Pe: Revelation

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:130, 135  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:129-136 In giving His law, God revealed Himself to us. He is being intimate with us, so that whenever we read the Bible, or listen to His law, we discover something about God. We know Him more. We know His holiness, justice, majesty, power, etc., filling us with awe. “Your testimonies are wonderful” (129). Though He is great and we are small, yet God has created us in His image and seeks to intimately commune with us in covenant relationship. Equally amazing is the revelation that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He turns His face toward us in tender compassion. “Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name” (132). “Make your face shine upon your servant” (135). We are reminded of the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). God is blessing us when He gives His law. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (130). How sad when God looks down upon mankind and sees unbelief and disobedience! “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law” (136). It is spiritual adultery. Ultimately, God has revealed His love for us by sending His Son, Who died on the cross because He loved those whom God had given. He looked on us with compassion, saying, “Father, forgive them.” Are we not amazed at the tender love of our God? Does not His intimacy cause us to “open our mouths” (131) in responsive praise to God? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God reveals Himself to you through His law and Word. Ask that you respond with whole-hearted affection and love for Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 21 – Ayin: Action

“I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors…It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken.” – Psalm 119:121, 126  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:121-128 Three times the same word comes up in this section, using the stanza letter, shaping the stanza’s theme. It can be translated “act.” God is a God of action. Ultimately, He has reached out to mankind with the promise of salvation. Graciously, He promised a Saviour and God has followed through by sending the Redeemer. His covenant actions mean salvation. As a covenant child, the psalmist has sought to obey God’s commandments and followed the covenant demands. He loves God and his neighbor not just in words, but also in deeds. He has sought the Lord in his times of need. His responsive actions indicate faithful thankfulness. So, why then does the psalmist continue to experience oppression and hatred from God’s enemies? Why doesn’t God seem to deal with his servant according to His steadfast love? The psalmist cries out his complaint. Isn’t it a valid complaint? Why do we suffer at times? Why doesn’t God vindicate us now, today, against that which or the one who afflicts us? In some ways, the questions are left unanswered and the complaints go unheeded. But the psalmist, in the end, trusts His heavenly Father. Things may not go well all the time, things may be unfair on occasion, but God is sovereign, true and faithful always. The psalmist rightfully complains, but he also rightfully trusts and patiently waits. The psalmist will stay true to God in every circumstance, knowing that God is all-wise and perfectly just. God will act exactly according to His plan. Suggestions for prayer In true faith and humility, do not be afraid to bring your complaints to God. At the same time, pray for trust and patience in all circumstances. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 20 – Samekh (2): Justice

“You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies.” – Psalm 119:118-119  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:113-120 God is not only merciful; He is also just. He is also holy and righteous. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30,31). Sin against God and His law, therefore, provokes God’s holy and righteous wrath. It is because of His wrath against sin that God promised and sent a Saviour. He sent His only Son to deal with His righteous wrath against sin, by placing it on Jesus in our place. Therefore, to live in God’s sight while not depending on His mercy is to invoke and invite His wrath. God “will spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain” (118). “All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross” (119). All evildoers will “depart” (115) from God and His holiness and His holy people. There is no place for disobedience in God’s sight. This is also true for the hypocrite, the actor, the play-Christian. In line with Psalm 139, the psalmist expresses his hatred for those whom God also hates. “I hate the double-minded” (113). God is holy. The appropriate response to God’s majesty and holiness is holy fear. “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments” (120). When that holy fear of God is combined with respectful obedience and living thankfulness, there you have a living Christian. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God gives you a balanced understanding of His mercy and wrath, so that you live each day in humble thankfulness, holy fear and respectful obedience. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 19 – Samekh (1): Mercy

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word...Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!” – Psalm 119:114, 117 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:113-120 From this stanza is it clear that there are two sides to God. On the one hand, He is just. “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes…All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross” (118,119). On the other hand, He is merciful, “You are my hiding place and my shield” (114). It’s also clear on which side of God the psalmist wants to be – the side of His mercy! That God shows mercy means He is our hiding place and shield. He is our strong shelter in the storms of life. He protects us from the attacks of the evil one. In this way, the law reveals God’s mercy. By it, we are guarded from evil. By it, we may live (116). God will hold us up and make us safe (117). The picture is that of a loving Father Who holds us in His arms. It’s a picture of trusting children who turn to the Lord for comfort, encouragement and safety. This is wonderful covenantal language. God’s Word promises us life and assures us of His care. God is loving, gracious, and merciful. God made a promise to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when they had fallen into sin and were in a state of sin and corruption. He promised a seed, a child, one who will be born of a woman, in order to save mankind from its state of fallenness. He promised and He delivered, sending His One and Only Son to be our Saviour. Don’t we love that side of God? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we always know and are assured that we are children of God through Christ. Let us through faith turn to Him and find help, grace and mercy in our time of need. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve

“I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” – Psalm 119:112  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:105-112 The psalmist is “severely afflicted…the wicked have laid a snare for ” (107,110). Nevertheless, he is resolved to overcome such challenges or afflictions and serve his God. How will he outface such challenges? By learning to live according to the will of God and involving his whole being in that pursuit. He expresses a deep confidence in the power of God’s Word, and therefore he can go forward with resolve. So, he confirms his oath to keep God’s Word (106). He acknowledges his devotion by referencing his worship and sacrifices (108). He highlights his determination, “I do not forget your law…I do not stray from your precepts…your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (109-111). He has his heart set on obedience, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end” (112). The psalmist shows that his resolve to serve God involves his whole being: he offers his feet (105), his mouth (106,108), his hand (109) and his heart (111,112). He is fully and wholly committed to serving his God. It’s a picture of what God’s true Servant will do perfectly and faithfully to the end, for us, in our place. Jesus Christ came down to be our righteousness before God. Therefore, He had His eyes resolutely set on Jerusalem, for there He would go to deliver us from our sins by dying on the accursed cross. May we in response to God’s faithfulness and Christ’s righteousness, be resolved to live thankfully with our whole lives to God’s glory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will give you a full resolve and a whole commitment to live for Him. Pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 17 – Nun (1): A lamp for my feet

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105  Scripture reading: Psalm 19 Today we live in an age of light. We enjoy the benefit of light in so many ways. Lights indicate our laptops are on and our phones are charging. Lights keep our homes safe from intruders and street lamps keep our roads safer. By means of our car’s headlights, our hand-held flashlights, our headlamps, etc., the ways in front of us are illuminated. This section of the psalmist’s prayer continues where the previous stanza left off. The psalmist continues to expound the blessing and benefit of the law, thus praising God and testifying of His love and faithfulness. The law is a lamp for his feet. It sheds light as he walks along the paths of life. The psalmist praises God for the many ways the law enlightens his life. The picture here is of an Israelite traveler walking along a darkened path. Walking along paths was treacherous at the best of times, even in daytime. Darkness only increased the dangers. The oil lamp the traveler holds keeps him from stumbling over rocks and roots, or into holes, or on snakes. It keeps him from slipping and falling or wandering off the path and becoming lost. So, the law of God directs the believer’s “feet” and keeps him from every evil “way”. Ultimately, the law reveals and points us to Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth, the life and the light Himself. Look to Christ, follow Christ, allow Christ to illumine your way. Let the gospel of Christ illumine your darkened community. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will enlighten your mind and heart, which are naturally darkened by sin. Ask that Jesus Christ will be revealed to you, so that you live and walk in His light. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 16 – Mem: Praise for the God of the book

“I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.” – Psalm 119:102  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:97-104 Many churches today are limiting or even abandoning the reading of God’s law in the worship service. That is an unfortunate development. Today’s stanza shows why. This part of the psalmist’s prayer contains no requests, but consists entirely of testimony and praise to God for His law. The psalmist explains what God’s law does for him. First, the law brings delight. “Oh how I love your law!” (97) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth…therefore I hate every false way” (103,104). The darkness and danger of worldly ways stand in stark contrast to the joy and delight of faithful living. Second, the law is a constant companion. “It is my meditation all the day…it is ever with me” (97,98). Like a good friend, the law is always at our side, teaching, admonishing and helping us to understand God, ourselves and the world. Third, the law produces wisdom. “Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies…I have more understanding than all my teachers…I understand more than the aged” (98-100). Through the law, we ordinary believers gain a wisdom greater than some of the smartest people around. Fourth, the law is a guide. “I hold back my feet from every evil way…I do not turn aside from your rules” (101). The law helps us to make good and happy decisions. Finally, the law reveals God. “For you have taught me” (102). Whatever we learn from the law, we learn from God Himself. God’s law does a lot for us. But don’t worship the book; rather, praise the Lord of the book. Suggestions for prayer Pray that when you hear God’s law in church today, you will receive it as a catalyst for praise and an opportunity to testify of God’s goodness and grace! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 15 – Lamedh: God has the whole world in his hands

“You have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” – Psalm 119:90b-92  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:89-96 Without God’s help, the psalmist would have perished in his affliction. The difference between life and death is the contrast between God and man. God is in control of all things. Man is part of what is controlled. God is limitless. Man is limited. “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.” This contrast is accentuated in the two parts of the stanza, the word “forever” starting both parts. “Forever your word is fixed,” and “Forever I will not forget.” This contrast is emphasized further in the chiastic structure describing God’s Word: The vastness of its scope (89-91) and what it has done for me (92), then, what it has done for me (93-95) and the vastness of its scope (96). Thankfully, everything in the universe is fixed according to God’s decree. “For all things are your servants” (91). That all things serve God has a comforting spin-off for us. The Word that sustains the structure of the universe and the processes of history is the same Word that comforts and guides us, God’s servants. It’s the same Word that directed the eternal Son to become like one of us and die for our sins. It’s the same Word that sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts, working faith and preserving His saints to the end. Whatever is of this world is limited and finite. But following God’s commandments brings us beyond those limitations. If we only serve God as all things already do, we would find perfect freedom and life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you keep looking outside of yourself to Jesus Christ and God the Father. Ask God to help you see the contrast between Himself and you, so trusting that He is in full control. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 14 – Kaph: Longing

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, ‘When will you comfort me?’” – Psalm 119:81, 82  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:81-88 This stanza picks up on a recurring theme in the Psalms, the Scriptures and our lives: the longing for God to save and deliver us, to come to our aid and help. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD” (Psalm 84:1-2). Longing implies we are often going through experiences in life in which we don’t have what we naturally should have. Longing indicates we are living in a broken and fallen world. Particularly, longing reveals that the communion between God and man is severed because of sin. We long for God’s presence and comfort. Sin and sinfulness have led to all sorts of difficulty and ugliness in the lives of God’s believers. There is suffering, sickness, straying, sinning, persecutions, etc. “I have become like a wineskin in smoke” (83). Life is fraught with trouble and danger. In this brokenness, there is one thing we can cling to, one hope that we have: God’s certain Word. He has especially fulfilled His greatest word of all – to send His Son into this world to die for our sins, to restore us to Himself forever and to redeem all of creation. Therefore, our souls are consoled. In God’s steadfast love we have life! Let us, every day, find endurance and strength in God’s written Word and promises. Suggestions for prayer Long for God to save you and deliver you from your troubles. Tell God that you trust His Word and pray for comfort in His steadfast love. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 13 – Yodh: Fear God and keep his commandments

“Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.” – Psalm 119:79  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:73-80 In the Bible “fear” means several things. It can refer to the terror or dread a person feels in a frightening situation. It can also point to the respect a servant has toward his master and so serves him faithfully. Finally, it can indicate the reverence and awe a person experiences in the presence of greatness. The fear of the Lord is a combination of all these. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Fearing God is in many ways the same as knowing God. Reading, learning, meditating and obeying God’s revealed Word and law leads us to that knowledge and fear of God, which in turn makes us truly wise. The fear of God is foundational to true wisdom. In this section, the psalmist desires that his fear of God, evident in his obedience, will in turn spur on others who likewise fear God. He wants others, just like him, to serve God according to His Word. He wants his actions to promote his neighbor’s life before God, not take away from it. Do you know God? By studying God’s Word and commandments you understand that He is holy and all-knowing. You learn that His Son, Jesus Christ, is Lord and Master of all and knows your works (Revelation 11:17). Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him and a sincere commitment to obey Him. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will truly come to know God through the study of His Word and thus have a fear of Him, so that fearing Him, you will become wise, and that those who see your good works will also praise God and fear Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 12 – Teth: God is good

“You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word…You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:65, 68 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:65-72 God is good, no matter what happens. God turns everything to my benefit. Working with the letter “teth” the psalmist has latched on to words in Hebrew like well, good, and better. These occur frequently in this section and emphasize that God is good and that His Word and law are good too. The key is to trust and obey the Lord in every circumstance. For example, it was affliction that helped the psalmist come into a better relationship with God. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (67). “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (71). Trouble and hardship have driven the believer to turn to God’s Word and promises and therefore trust in God even more! Ultimately, God’s revealed His goodness by handing over His only Son to the affliction that takes away our sins. Therefore, our response to negative events should be calm and peace. We learn to make good judgments and expound good knowledge. We open God’s Word daily and consider His will in every circumstance and seek to live by it. We rejoice always! “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (72). About God’s commandments David said, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10). We confess, “Father, You have dealt well with me. It is well with my soul.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God uses every circumstance in your life for good. Ask Him to open your eyes, so that you also see God’s goodness in your afflictions. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 11 – Heth: Permanence

“The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words…The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes.” – Psalm 119:57,64  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:57-64 Two great Old Testament words which begin with the Hebrew letter heth have the poet’s attention in this stanza. They are the words “portion” (57) and “steadfast love” (64). They set the theme here: the believer’s deep and secure relationship with the Lord. Portion describes the inheritance God gave to His people upon entering the promised land. The Israelites didn’t really own their land; it was apportioned to them by God, Who remained the owner, the Israelites serving as tenants. This was underlined when God didn’t give any land to the Levites. God was their share (Num 18:20). Today, in Christ, God graciously gives us all things (Rom 8:32). God is our portion. God is all we really want. It is God’s steadfast (unchangeable) love that brings about such a relationship and maintains it. A third word that begins with the letter heth, having a strategic place, is “statutes” (64). It’s one of the eight words for the law used regularly throughout this Psalm. Having this word for law at the end of the stanza, because of its first letter, is appropriate. However, it is equally appropriate to use this word in connection with our response to God’s grace and steadfast love. “The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes.” Also translated “decrees,” God’s law is permanent, as if carved in stone. According to God’s faithfulness, we are engraved into the palm of God’s hands and His Word is given to us as an everlasting witness. Therefore, in thankfulness, let us commit our lives to God and serve Him. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that we have a God Whose Word is steadfast. Pray that you experience in your life how your relationship with God through faith in secure and permanent. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 10 – Zayin: Living and active comfort

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” – Psalm 119:50  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:49-56 “Remember” (Hebrew zakar) is the first word the psalmist uses in three of the next eight verses. In verse 49, the Psalmist asks God to remember His Word and promise. In verses 52 and 55, the Psalmist, in turn, promises to remember God. In Scripture, remembering is less a matter of memory than it is of action. The believer asks God to act in accordance with His prior commitment and promises, and then dedicates himself to knowing and applying God’s demands for his life. That the Lord remembers His covenant promises, forms the basis for the psalmist’s hope. It gives him true comfort (50,52). The greatest promise is that God will no more remember His wrath against my sin, because He poured it out on His only Son. Jesus Christ paid the full penalty, so that God looks on us with love and mercy. The response is that we remember God. “When I think of (or, remember) your laws” (52), and “I remember your name…” (55). Like God, this is not just a matter of recalling to memory certain things about ourselves, or about God. When we remember God, then we are recalling our own confession as well as our own commitment to serve Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are acting on those thoughts! Reflecting on the gospel, we are filled with hope and comfort. God in His love remembers us, and we, in turn, commit ourselves to remembering God and His will for our lives. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God remembers His promise to you that He shows His love and grants His mercy. Ask God to help you remember God and His will for your lives. In this way, you will be comforted and be active in God’s kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 9 – Waw: Walking and talking

“And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find delight in your commandments, which I love.” – Psalm 119:45-47 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:41-48 In English, especially in writing and prose, we are not supposed to start a sentence with the word “and.” That rule does not apply in Hebrew, which is evident in this stanza. Every verse in this stanza begins with a special Hebrew prefix that means “and” or “for.” The effect is that the psalmist conveys excitement, listing off way after way how he wants to live obediently for God. He is so thankful, so alive and so bursting with desire to live his whole life for God. He is responding to God’s grace and covenant promises with a child-like faith. There is a close connection between what we believe and what we do and say. What is in the heart is also what comes out of the mouth and is clear from our actions. Love for and meditation on God’s law translates into obedience to and communication of God’s will. As we are filled with the truth of the gospel in Jesus Christ, we should be bubbling over with excitement to live for God and to tell of His wonderful goodness. At one time the Lord Jesus asked: can a good tree bear bad fruit? Can a good well bring forth brackish? The answer is, no! Love for God and our neighbor means walking the talk and talking the walk. Heart, hands, feet, voice, all in tune with the melody of God’s law! As you attend church today and hear the gospel, may you be filled with hope and eagerness to similarly devote your life to God again! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Father places on your heart the earnest desire to communicate His love, His grace and His covenant demands. Pray that God will give you the words to speak when the opportunity or requirement arises. Pray for those who are persecuted for their faith, that they will witness to those in authority. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 8 – He: Put on the new self

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” – Psalm 119:36-37  Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalm 119:33-40 The Psalmist, through faith, recognizes the battle that goes on within, between the two selves, between his old nature and his new nature. He wants to do what is right, but he finds that he often struggles against the desire for riches (36) and his heart is turned toward idols (37). The apostle Paul shows in Romans 7 that this is an age-old problem for believers and a normal struggle for Christians. The wonderful news is that because of Jesus Christ there is a possibility of inner struggle and spiritual battle! Christ came to this world to battle sin. He has done that decisively through life-long obedience, through His death on the cross and by way of His resurrection from the dead. True faith is to look outside of yourself to Jesus Christ. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 4. You did not so learn Christ, he says. True faith is no longer relying on yourself to fight sin, but looking to Christ, praying for His Spirit to work faith and renewal, and so die to the old nature and put on the new nature. In that power, our hearts are inclined more and more to God’s will and way. We turn our eyes from worthless, worldly things and focus on the true treasure which is in heaven. Let us turn our eyes from evil. Let us turn our hearts from worshiping idols. Let us keep our mouth from speaking lies. And we will find rest for our souls. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that you experience spiritual struggle and inner warfare against sin, the devil and his whole dominion. Without Christ we would have no ability to fight. Pray that you follow Christ and win the battles in His name. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 7 – Daleth: Give me life

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!...My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” – Psalm 119:25, 28 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:25-32 The Psalmist bemoans the fact that often his soul “clings to the dust” (25). He intensely describes how he often experiences a dying spirit. He means the same when he mentions “my ways” (26), or his “false ways” (29), or being “put to shame” (31). With similar intensity, the psalmist indicates that at times his “soul melts away for sorrow” (28). Sometimes a believer feels nothing at all. Don’t we all, at times, know those feelings? It’s important in these moments to remember that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, came to this earth for us. His strength was dried up like a potsherd, His tongue stuck to His jaws and He was laid in the dust of death (Psalm 22:15). Knowing God as Saviour, then, the psalmist prays, “Give me life” (25). His desire is that God “enlarge” his heart (32). He wants to experience the “way of faithfulness” (30). He pleads that he might “run in the way of commandments”(32). He wants to know that he is spiritually alive! Don’t we all want that too? Look to the psalmist. He knows that the way out of feeling nothing is by way of submitting to God’s will. These are two contrasting experiences. They are the consequences of two ways of living. Either we follow our ways and cling to the dust, or we cling to God’s testimonies (31), running in the way of His commandments, serving Jesus Christ, relying on His Spirit. The second way leads to brighter days and a happier life. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you life and to enlarge your heart by way of obedience to His commandments. Thank God for Jesus Christ, Who felt nothing at all in our place. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 6 – Gimel: Open my eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” – Psalm 119:18  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 3:14-18; Psalm 119:17-24 The psalmist asks God to open his eyes so that he sees how wonderful God is, how wonderful His law is and how wonderful are God’s blessings upon those who fear and obey Him. He is asking for the eyes of faith. As Paul explains to the Corinthians, without knowing and believing Jesus Christ, it’s like there’s a veil over our eyes. We may read and know of many Biblical facts. We may even follow God’s commands. But without the Spirit’s help and without faith in Christ, we will know, but not understand, we will see, but remain blind. We will not be filled with a wonder of God and His Word; we will not understand the glory of Christ. “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed…and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Today’s verse has inspired Clara Scott’s hymn Open My Eyes, That I May See: Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me; place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine! May the Lord open our eyes to see the truth of Jesus, open our ears to hear the gospel, open our mouths to spread the good news and open our hearts to love God always! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God opens your eyes of faith to see the truth. Pray that when you read and meditate on God’s Word, you will see with clarity God’s grace and demands for your life. Ask that you will see the wonder and delight of His law, as well as the beauty and glory of God Himself, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 5 – Beth: Pure living

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” – Psalm 119:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:9-16 This second stanza is about being cleansed and washed in the Holy Spirit through a living faith. How can we be cleansed and washed in such a way? How will our young people be that? By being in God’s Word every day. The psalmist makes use of the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, beth, in an interesting way. In most of the eight verses he uses the letter in a preposition meaning “in,” “on,” or “with.” We read: with my whole heart, in my heart, with my lips, in the way, on your precepts, in your statutes. Do you see the pattern? The way to holiness and purity is to envelop our whole lives with, to give our whole hearts to and to bathe ourselves completely in seeking to do God’s will. We must dedicate our mouths, ears, eyes, minds and hearts to God and His ways. That leads to blessed purity and holiness! It means looking to our Lord Jesus Christ. First, He is the ground of our righteousness and purity through His death on the cross. Second, He is our example to follow, showing us the way of delightful obedience. In Christ’s blood, we are made pure and in Christ’s Spirit, we make our way pure. Looking to Jesus, searching the Scriptures for Him, listening to God’s law, acting on it, we are led to pure living. O Lord, perfect us in Your love, so that we are cleansed and conformed unto Your will. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you really devote yourself every day to being enveloped and bathed in God’s Word and law, thus seeking His will. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 4 – Aleph (4): I will praise you

“I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!” – Psalm 119:7, 8 Scripture reading: Psalm 103 The Psalmist commits to praising God through word and deed. The idea here is to throw the hand out or point out with the hand. He will throw himself completely into learning and living God’s commandments. He will praise God with his whole body! His thanksgiving and praise will be in body and soul. This is the response of the true believer who understands God’s blessings, and yes, also the blessing of the law. The meaning is this: as God blesses us, we, in turn, bless Him! Do you see here the “back and forth” of covenant blessing going on? God blesses us with His love, His salvation and His indwelling Spirit. In turn, we through faith respond with thanksgiving, holiness and obedience. We praise God (bless God) with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are reminded of the psalmist’s conscious desire in Psalm 103:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” Today, let’s remember that God has forgiven us all our sins and granted us newness of life through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s not forget all His benefits. Let’s call to mind that His steadfast love “is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments” (Psalm 103:17,18). As He has blessed us in this way, let’s also bless His holy name! Today, in all we do, let’s throw ourselves completely into praising God! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you live responsibly, that is, responsively. Pray that your whole life is an act of covenant worship and praise to God. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 3 – Aleph (3): Blessed

“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.” – Psalm 119:2,3 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:1-6 Every verse in stanza 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is aleph. It basically corresponds to the first letter of the English alphabet. Even the very little children, who don’t know their alphabet yet, already know this first letter. What most people don’t know, however, is that the Hebrew word translated in our English text blessed begins with that first letter. That’s the very first thing we should consider and understand about Psalm 119. As we begin going through this great Psalm, let us realize that the law is foremost about blessing and especially about our covenant God blessing us! The word means “happy” or “fortunate.” When we, out of true faith, seek to live our lives according to God’s law, when we focus on making our ways blameless, keeping the Lord’s testimonies, seeking Him with our whole heart, aspiring to do no wrong, walking in His ways, there is abundant happiness! Then God will look upon us favorably! Let us remember that as we walk in the Lord’s ways, we are doing so out of thankfulness. We are following our Lord Jesus Christ, Who walked before us and is the pioneer of our salvation. Because Jesus was faithful and obedient to His heavenly Father, even obedient unto death on a cross, He has brought true happiness and blessing back into the world. As we begin our work week, let’s look to Jesus, thankfully follow in His footsteps, and experience real spiritual blessing. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the preaching yesterday, and your devotions today and going forward, will lead and direct you to thankfully walk in the Lord’s ways, so that you are truly blessed and happy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

February 2 – Aleph (2): Delighting in Torah

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” – Psalm 119:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 1 Oh, blessed day which God has given to us! On Sunday we may rest our bodies from our daily labors and rest our minds from our regular concerns. We can go to church and rest in the love and faithfulness of our heavenly Father. Our covenant God greets and welcomes us into His fellowship. He also speaks to us with His law. Listening intently, we reflect on the past week and realize we have fallen short again and again. It’s not pleasant to experience this purpose of the law; however, it is necessary and good to be reminded that we are sinners, unworthy to be in God’s presence and in need of salvation. But, that’s not the end of the law! The law also directs us to our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who has fulfilled the law in our place. God graciously sent Him to be our obedience and righteousness! Further, in faith and repentance, we receive the forgiveness of our sins and renewal of Christ’s Spirit. In blessed assurance, we are filled with thanksgiving. We are motivated by Christ’s Spirit to renewed living! It is a joy and delight to live according to the law of God in all good works. Yes, indeed, oh blessed day! The Torah is held up as the source of blessing. That blessing from God is the desire of this psalmist’s prayer and the reason for his delight in God and His law. Let us all on this day of rest delight in and dedicate ourselves to God’s law. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and all your brothers and sisters in the Lord will joyfully go to church today and delight in God’s law. Pray for the minister who brings to you God’s revelation, His gospel, His Word and law, and His will for your lives. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of February – Aleph (1): Torah

Psalm 119 is special in several ways. It is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses. How often we like to joke about its length! All joking aside, we readily admit this chapter in the book of Psalms is a treasure trove in itself. It is a song in honor and praise of God’s Word, the law. Psalm 119 is also an acrostic. That means each section or stanza in this psalm starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Since there are 22 letters, there are 22 stanzas, each containing eight verses. Even more amazing, each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with that same letter! Psalm 119 is an alphabet of prayers and praise about God’s Word. It is made clear in our English translation when each section is headed by the next Hebrew letter spelled out: Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, etc. Believe it or not, the purpose for this acrostic was to aid memorization! Memorizing, in turn, allows a person to meditate on God’s Word. As there are 29 days in February this year, we hope to cover each section day by day, dividing some up to bring us to the total of 29 devotions. My prayer is that through this month we, as God’s covenant children, will all the more come to appreciate, value and love the wonderful truths of God’s law for our lives. ***** “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” – Psalm 119:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 19 Psalm 119 is about the Torah, which means “teaching” or “directing”. In verse 1 it is “the law.” The Bible is not merely given for our knowledge and interest, but also for our instruction and obedience. James 1:25 says, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” In the remaining 175 verses (except for five) we find the term torah or one of seven synonyms. In almost every stanza, each having eight verses, these eight different words for law are found. The acrostic form (see introduction) and the use of these eight torah words throughout the Psalm form the framework for an elaborate prayer. The chief aim of the psalmist is to ask God to fill his heart with a love for His law, to fill his mind with the truth of its instruction and to help him so he delightfully obeys it to the glory of God his Saviour. One tradition states that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet. If true, that was very clever of Dad! For then father David could also teach his son the alphabet of spiritual life! His son could learn the abc’s of daily prayer too, living for, and obedience of his heavenly Father. His son could come to know the God Who saves and delivers His people from the slavery of sin so that they may freely live for Him! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to fill your heart with a love for His law, to fill your mind with the truth of its instruction and to help you so that you delightfully obey God Who has saved you from your sins. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada....

Daily devotional

January 31 – Proverbs on the home

“The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just.”  Scripture reading: Proverbs 17:1-6 A home is not a house. A home is a place where a family lives. A Christian home is where a Christian family lives in unity, preparing for and doing the work of the Lord. In a Christian home there is peace even if there is not a lot of food. We know that “Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting with strife” (Prov. 17:1). A Christian home is a place where brothers and sisters help and protect each other. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). A Christian home is a place of safety. You don’t have to wonder if you are welcomed. What happens if there is no peace in the home? One wants to run away from it. Proverbs 21:9 says it is, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Yes, a house without peace (Peace only comes from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ) is a place of misery. Proverbs 15:25 warns, “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.” Sin is a menace to any home. Proverbs 15:27 notes, “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.” What is the remedy for a corrupt house? Know God’s Word, believe in Jesus and hold on to Him for dear life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will preserve peace and unity in the home, unity based on Jesus and that you will not ignore the mutual duties in the home. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 30 – Proverbs on prayer

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” – Proverbs 15:29  Scripture reading: Proverbs 28:9-13 Prayer is the means God has ordained to give you the things that are necessary for you to do the work He has called you to do. God delights to hear the prayer of the upright. In Proverbs 15:8 He tells us, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Who can say this? Who delights to have people ask him for things? Only God! But if God delights in the prayer of the upright, how does one become upright? One can only become upright when the righteousness of Jesus is counted as his own. So there is no prayer without sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus. This means the non-Christian cannot pray. His prayers go into the air, not to God. There are things that hinder your prayer (proof that prayer by itself is not magical). First, Solomon warned that God will not answer your prayer if you neglect His law and refuse to be obedient. Proverbs 28:9 says: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” In fact, without proper ground for prayer, your prayer can become the cause of judgment. It is trying to get something to which you are not entitled. Second, if you are secretly living in sin, your prayers are dead. Proverbs 28:13 says: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Suggestions for prayer May you always pray through Jesus Christ and pray often for things that are good in doing God’s work. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 29 – Proverbs on money

“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” – Proverbs 10:22  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:9-10 You’ve probably heard that money makes the world go round! Is that really true? Is survival and progress in this world dependent on how much money you have? It seems so when you see how obsessed people are about accumulating wealth. Many things are sacrificed on the altar of wealth. Now don’t misunderstand, wealth by itself is not sinful. Solomon, a rich man, wanted you to remember a few things. Earn your money honestly, for wealth gained by fraud disappears. Earn your money without abusing others. Honor the Lord with your wealth by giving back a tithe to Him. Share your wealth with the needy. Don’t trust in your money or it will be your downfall. Concurrent with these instructions, know there are many things better than riches – a good name, for instance. Proverbs 22:1 says: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” And do not become preoccupied with wealth. Wealth does not profit anything on Judgment Day. Even in this life, your wealth is stolen, misused by the civil authorities, and of course, stolen by civil authorities by inflation. Don’t forget your greatest riches are gained through Jesus Christ and no one can take them away. Moreover, your good works are riches that you can store up in heaven. Have you considered how much time you spend storing up treasures that you will have for eternity? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will love the riches you have in Jesus Christ and that you will be thankful for earthly wealth and use it according to the Giver’s decrees. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 28 – Proverbs on violence

“The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice.” – Proverbs 21:7  Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:10-19 There is no question that there are times when violence is necessary: in war, self-defense and just punishment. But like in the days of Solomon, we are often surrounded by violence, especially if we live in cities. Some make their living with violence and they plot and plan. Others use violence on the spur of the moment because they lack self-control. Either way, this type of violence is wrong and you have to learn how to deal with it. Solomon describes violence as a fruit that the wicked produce. Why do men commit violence so much? Proverbs 29:10 says: “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, But the upright seek his well-being.” No one is violent with the one he loves! Violence is rooted in hate! You must avoid situations that cause or promote violence. If you have rowdy friends or visit a rowdy bar, for example, the potential for violence increases. Proverbs 24:1-2 tells us: “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; For their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.” Further, deal with the issue of contentment. You have your contentment in Jesus. Don’t envy. It is a common cause of violence. As Proverbs 3:30-31 says: “Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm. Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways…” So don’t be violent. Love your enemies. When violent people are around you, move. Have friends who encourage you in Christian living. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will hate and avoid violence and that you will love and promote peace and encourage justice on those who are violent. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 27 – Proverbs on mockers

“A proud and haughty man —"Scoffer" is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.” – Proverbs 21:24 Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:6-9 If you believe in abstinence until marriage, or you take your children out of public schools, or you believe in the biblical grounds for divorce, you are seen, at the very least, as a prude, if not weird. Movie stars, politicians and judges loudly proclaim this. Christians are mocked and viewed as hindrances to progress. This is not abnormal. Christians have often been seen this way in history. What happens to mockers? Proverbs 19:29 tells us “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.” How are you to react when you are mocked? Don’t take mocking personally. It is God whom they are mocking. Avoid the scoffer. Proverbs 22:10 says: “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease.” Chase him away because he is not interested in learning. Proverbs 15:12 adds: “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise.” As tough as it may be to do, leave him. Go far away. Proverbs 9:7-8 instructs: "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.” What makes you able to react this way? Your time belongs to the Lord (Psalm 90) and He wants you to use your time wisely. If an activity will not lead to the salvation or sanctification of the soul, it is not worthwhile. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will not take mocking of your faith personally and that you will persist in faithful obedience to the Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 26 – Proverbs on honesty

“Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and dishonest scales are not good.” – Proverbs 20:23 Scripture reading: Proverbs 20:5-10 It is not uncommon to buy something that did not live up to expectations. Maybe it was not well-made. Maybe the knife did not cut the tomato like it did on television. Maybe that non-stick coating on that frying pan was not really as strong as advertised. People aren’t always honest. While that is bad, you can expect that from people who don’t feel they have to give an account to God. Solomon knew the blessing and necessity of honesty for an orderly society – “Honest weights and scales are the LORD’S; all the weights in the bag are His work” (Prov. 16:11) – which ultimately was necessary for the spread of God’s kingdom. In fact, he knew that honesty was necessary because it reflected God. Solomon knew of the danger of dishonesty. As Proverbs 11:1 teaches “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” He describes God as hating dishonesty. And when God hates something, you can expect His judgment on it. Proverbs 20:17 explains “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” That sure is not a pretty picture. And surely no one would trust a dishonest man. Proverbs 25:19 teaches us: “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.” Don’t be a bad tooth. Be honest. God is your reward. You are rich through Jesus Christ. Why rob for trinkets when you have gold? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be satisfied with your possessions and position and that you will be known as a truthful man and bring honor to Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 25 – Proverbs on the duty of the mothers

“My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” – Proverbs 6:20 Scripture reading: Proverbs 31:21-28 Many people think mothers were given by God to make sandwiches, wash our shirts and put on Band-Aids. Solomon advised us mothers are much more. What are the duties of mothers? Giving birth is one of the smaller duties of a mother. A mother cares for, teaches and disciplines her children from birth to adulthood. It doesn’t matter if it is snowing, she will take them to the doctor. It doesn’t matter if she is tired, she will stay up with them when they are sick. It doesn’t matter if she has work to do, she will work to mend their broken hearts. It doesn’t matter if she is busy, she will take time to reinforce the truth of God’s Word. She is a cook, a wiper, a mender, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a caterer, a comforter and personal shopper. She will do these things because she wants her children to mature and continue the work of establishing Christ’s kingdom. What are the results of good mothering? Children won’t forget her birthday! But that is one of the small results of a mother’s work. Children will become independent (and leave) and be godly. They will know how to work. Proverbs 23:25 says: “Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.” What are the consequences of bad mothering? Children will remain dependent and ungodly. As we read in Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will see how important a mother’s duties are and that you will always remember to pray for your mother. As a mother, ask God to enable you to fulfill these great duties. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 24 – Proverbs on justice

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” – Proverbs 21:3 Scripture reading: Proverbs 24:23-26  Having grown up in a corrupt third world country, I know justice is often determined by how much money you have and the ones you know. But that is not what God intended. Solomon, the wisest king to have ever lived, knew the necessity of justice and he knew how to do it well. Everyone knows how he displayed his wisdom when he pretended to order the cutting of the baby in two to handle two disputing mothers. Justice must always be based on God’s law and must be fair. That means there must be no partiality to the rich or to the poor (Proverbs 18:5). Justice takes time and investigation. It is not determined by the first to give testimony. As Proverbs 18:17 says: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Those who are oppressed should not be denied justice (Proverbs 22:22-23). This includes the abused widows, orphans and foreigners. So speak up for the oppressed (including babies sentenced to die by abortions). Cry out for justice for those who are persecuted for their faith. Why would you do this? Do this because Jesus took God’s justice for you and you want to advocate for Him. Do this because working for justice will cause men and women to praise God. Yes, only those who know Jesus can do this. As Proverbs 28:5 tells us, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand all.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn of injustice and fight to remove it in the home, church, and nation, and that you will thank the Lord for taking God’s justice for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 23 – Proverbs on adultery

“Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men.” – Proverbs 7:25-26 Scripture reading: Proverbs 2:10-19 It is easy to fall into lusts that lead to adultery. The wicked woman flatters you with her words. Her lips drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. She lures you with her beauty and her long eyelashes. She kisses you. She pretends she is making peace offerings and wants you to celebrate with her. She covers her bed with perfume. What are the consequences of adultery? Adultery leaves you with spiritual pain (and physical pain as well), like when you eat poisonous food that is sweetened with sugar. Adultery leads you to the grave. The adulteress will take away your strength and the best years of your life. The adulteress will reduce to a simple loaf of bread, Solomon wrote! (Proverbs 6:26). You will be burned. You will fall in a pit. Solomon knew this. He knew it in an experiential way. How should you deal with temptation to commit adultery? Be satisfied with the blessing of your life and “drink water from your own cistern” (Proverbs 5). It is safe. It is healthy. (If you are single, this is good reason to be married.) Stay away from wicked women (or men). Learn to guard your eye. You often can’t avoid the first look, but what about the second look and the lustful look? What will make you remain pure? Knowing that you are fully satisfied in Jesus Christ is the only ground that will truly keep you from sinning against the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be satisfied with your spouse or that you will find one if you don’t have one and that you and your spouse will encourage each other in faithfulness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 22 – Proverbs on stewardship

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.” – Proverbs 27:23-24  Scripture reading: Proverbs 22:1-4 A good preacher will warn you to take care of your soul; he will warn you to take care of your body and he will warn you to take care of your possessions. Your possessions may be of less value than your soul and body, but your possessions are also God’s gifts and you have an obligation to care for them. So learn from Solomon how to spend your money, including how to care for your car and your new iPhone. We call this stewardship. You get things in two ways, either by hard work or by inheritance (from people who worked hard for it). “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich…” (Prov. 10:4). When you get things you are to care for them (but not make idols of them). You are required to make good investments. This is why lotteries are inappropriate. And yet, you must not overwork. “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5). Money can become mist. As Christ’s child, thank God for your wealth. You are a mere steward. Don’t take credit for whatever you achieve. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Don’t hold too tightly to wealth. Remember what you have received from Jesus! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your wealth and talents. Pray that you take care of them and use them for good, not hoarding or wasting. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 21 – Proverbs on giving

“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9 Scripture reading: Proverbs 19:14-17 Most Christians accept that they should tithe and give to the poor, but giving goes beyond those things, to other causes. First, why give? Solomon said God says so. But there is more. Giving shows you are thankful for God’s love for you. Giving shows your love for your brother. Giving brings rewards. You start giving by giving to those closer to you: God, your family, relatives, and friends. Give to strangers also. Give to proper needs. This means you must investigate. Don’t simply give because others are giving to an organization. Check them out. Find out how much money goes to administration and to the main cause. Remember, the money is not yours, but the Lord’s. You are merely stewards of those gifts. And don’t boast about giving. “Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain” (Prov. 25:14). You must give much more than money. Money is relatively easy to give. Getting your hands down and dirty is much more difficult. Isn’t that true? It is easy to give $4.50 to Scott’s Mission downtown Toronto for a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless, but would you go and help feed the homeless, especially on Thanksgiving Day? Speak for the poor. “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9). Give of your talents. If able, give advice on personal life, marriage and finances. Give training to a youth. Give of your time. Give support to struggling businesses. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will help without expecting anything back and that you will be generous and not hoard. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 20 – Proverbs on the future

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:17-18  Scripture reading: Proverbs 24:19-20 Who likes to have to wait for blessings? But deferring blessings is like using small fish to catch bigger fish. You might have to wait longer, but you will get more in the future. This is why Solomon urged you to wait for your future blessings. You have a rosy future that is much more than 100 years. It is for eternity! Your future blessings will come because you are a child of God, saved through Jesus Christ. Moreover, even the minutest area of your life, God knows and controls. So whether you live or die in the next year, you can be sure your future is in God’s hands. As Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” Remember, the righteous are only made righteous through Jesus Christ. So be patient for your blessings to come. Expect tough times, but be confident of the future. While some have abandoned serving the Lord because they don’t want to wait for blessings, you must not! At the same time, don’t forget there are great blessings in this world now that you should appreciate! As you wait, work hard and save up more future blessings. And in order to wait, feed daily on God’s Word and His promises. The more you eat, the stronger you will get. Eventually, heaven will come. Proverbs 13:12 teaches: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will give you patience when things don’t go well and that you will learn to rest in the promises of a secured future through Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 19 – Proverbs on dealing with fools

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7  Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:7-9 Is it reasonable to call someone a fool who carelessly drives into your lane and causes an accident? Maybe! But biblically speaking, the greatest fool is the one who does not believe in God or one who rejects God. The fool has contempt for true knowledge and wisdom. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9). The fool loves his own ideas more than anyone else’s (Proverbs 14:16). In Prov. 17:16 Solomon said the fool has no heart for wisdom (Wisdom is a picture of Jesus). Proverbs 28:26 tells us “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool…” A foolish son is one who rejects his father’s instruction. And Proverbs 15:5 teaches: “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” A fool loves his own opinion (Proverbs 10:10). The fool brings trouble on his own head. “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools” (Proverbs 19:29). The fool even brings eternal judgment on himself (Proverbs 1:32). And he brings destruction on others who follow him (Proverbs 13:20). Fools also bring grief to their parents (Proverbs 17:25). You respond to fools by avoiding close relations with them. They will lead you astray. Proverbs 17:12 warns: “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.” You must call fools to faith and repentance and tell them how to get them (Proverbs 8:5-6). Fools need faith! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn to recognize and deal with foolish people in a way that honors the Lord and pray that your children will not be foolish, but fear God instead. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 18 – Proverbs on women

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30  Scripture reading: Proverbs 31:10-23 Men are incomplete without women. God said so. He is perfectly wise. Women show the wisdom of our heavenly Father. A woman perfectly fits the needs that man has and a man perfectly fits the needs of a woman. Praise God for that! But when that relationship is corrupted, as Solomon found out, there is much hardship in the family, church and state. How can this happen? If a woman insists on independence, which is taking a rival position to the place where God put her, the family breaks down. If a woman insists on leadership (or control of) over a man, which is taking a rival position to the place where God put her, anarchy sets in. As the Chinese saying goes, “You can’t have two tigers in one mountain.” One will likely kill the other. A woman’s duty is to submit to her husband and be a helper to him, even advising him. (Advising is helping!) Proverbs 31 outlines some of those duties. A woman must, therefore, be humble so she can serve her husband, even if he is not always as loving as he is called to be. She serves because of Christ, not because of her husband. This is the kind of woman a man should want as a wife. She is good for him and she is good for the kingdom of the Lord. Fathers, train your daughter to be this virtuous woman. As Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will help you as a woman to be submissive and that God will help you as a man to love your wife so much that it would be easy for her to submit to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 17 – Proverbs on work

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” – Proverbs 22:29  Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:1-4 The generation after WWII was known for overworking as they tried to rebuild western society. Because of overworking, their lives became unbalanced. Wives, children, church and society suffered in other ways, even while economic success rose. Many of the present generation have moved in the other direction – to laziness. Some now are advocating for a three-and-a-half-day work week, with some companies in Europe already having a four-day work week. The lazy often then demand that others supply their needs. An example is Ontario, which recently tried a program to give “guaranteed income” whether one worked or not. But the lazy one has no purpose in life and becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. Consider some warnings from Solomon who worked too much and ignored his own soul and his children. First, you are commanded to work, work hard enough that you have enough for yourself and extra to share with the poor. But don’t work so much so that you don’t have time for your wife, children, church and society. Second, guard your hearts against laziness. You are not entitled to other people’s labors. Both overworking and laziness are dangerous to the individual, the family, church and state. To be balanced in life, let Christ govern your entire life. Work hard and honestly. As Proverbs 20:13 teaches us: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” Then share with others. And don’t be lazy. Remember, “Six days you shall labor.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will get and keep a good job and that you will share what God has given to you. Also that you will teach by words and example the blessings of good work and the dangers of overwork. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 16 – Proverbs on wicked people

“The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will come through trouble.” – Proverbs 12:13 Scripture reading: Proverbs 6:16-19 There are extremely wicked people around you. These wicked people are sinister and savage. They don’t care what they do; they abuse their bodies and live however they want. They cheer each other on in their sin. An example of this is the government of Canada which rewarded Dr. Morgentaler, who aborted thousands of babies, with national honors. Consider two things Solomon taught regarding wicked people. First, don’t be close to them as they will pull your heart away from God. Don’t marry them. (Wicked women led Solomon away from worshipping God.) They don’t really care about you even if they pretend to. They will hurt anyone who gets in their way and they might use you as a stepping stone to get what they want. Further, if you are close to them you will start acting like they act. They will hinder you from progressing in your Christian walk (Proverbs 28:28). Keep your children away from them. Second, know the real danger in which wicked people are. They have rejected God’s authority and care nothing about God’s law. Proverbs 3:33 tells us, “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked…” With no faith and obedience, the wicked are heading to the tortures of hell. Knowing the danger they are in, don’t close your eyes. Get the Gospel to them. Yes, being very close to them will hurt your sanctification, but you have to be close enough to share the Gospel they need for their salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will guard yourself from being close to wicked people, but be close enough to share the Gospel with them to save them from hell. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 15 – Proverbs on divine protection

“Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” – Proverbs 30:5 Scripture reading: Proverbs 2:1-8 You probably heard of ADT. It is a popular home security company. But can they really prevent most dangers? They can’t really protect your body. The most they can do is call for the ambulance, fire department or police. They can’t protect your soul. You need someone else and Solomon spoke of Him. God is able to protect you. He said so. Solomon’s father said that even when you go through the “valley of the shadow of death” God is able to keep you. He protects you by His angels. He protects you by giving you wisdom. He watches over you all the time. We read in Proverbs 15:3 that: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” God even destroys your enemies when it suits Him. Why does God protect you? He protects you because you are His children and He loves you. Proverbs 2:8 says: “He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.” Even sinful, earthly fathers try to protect their children. This does not take away your responsibility. Proverbs 13:3 tells us: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” You guard yourself by following the Lord’s commands. As Proverbs 19:16 says: “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.” The two tables of God’s laws are like rails to a train. You are safe when you remain on them! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will learn to trust God’s sovereignty and that you will not worry about your or your children’s future and that you will not fear disease and death. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 14 – Proverbs on politics and politicians

“Mercy and truth preserve the king…” – Proverbs 20:28 Scripture reading: Proverbs 16:12-13 Most people, when they hear of politicians, want to hold their noses in disgust because politicians often put their own welfare above others’ welfare, take bribes and forget the promises they made before their election. Because of these sinful practices in politicians, Christians have avoided being involved in politics altogether. But what did Solomon teach about politicians? A politician must be qualified. He said a slave with no experience is not able to lead others (Proverbs 19:10). A politician must love righteousness, knowing righteousness brings blessings on nations (Proverbs 14:34). This means a politician must know God’s truth which teaches that his job is to protect the godly and punish the wicked. It is not his job to show empathy or redistribute wealth. Why do politicians compromise? Because many politicians begin to love power more than God, they try to preserve their power at all costs, even compromising the truth. When politicians are wicked, the nation suffers and either tyranny or anarchy becomes law. Tyranny can come in the form of over-taxation in order to provide for those who would vote for that politician. Anarchy can come when the politician has no interest in public safety (only in his advancement) so criminals run rampant. But whether it is tyranny or anarchy, under these circumstances the kingdom of Jesus Christ cannot expand. Remind politicians they will have to give an account to God for whatever they do. Pray for them. Be active politically if you are able. Redeem the culture and promote God’s truth. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will not hate politicians. Pray for them and for their removal from office if they refuse to do well. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 13 – Proverbs on the unchangeable Scripture

“Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.” – Proverbs 4:13 Scripture reading: Proverbs 30:1-6 It didn’t take long for Nintendo GameCube to be tossed aside for a new and better version, and then another and another. But there is no such worry about the Scriptures. God’s truth never changes. God’s truth is perfect and that means it can never be improved. You need truth. Truth shows the danger you are in without Christ. (Truth is used figuratively by Solomon to refer to Jesus. Jesus described Himself as the Truth.) Truth shows you the way to return and remain in a right relationship with your heavenly Father. As we read in Proverbs 4:4: “He also taught me, and said to me: 'Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.'” God’s truth shows God’s love. What about those who are trying to reinterpret God’s Word, or water it down to make it more acceptable? Look at one example. Some don’t like only men as elders, so they reinterpret the Scriptures to allow women elders. In reality they are changing God’s Word. The Lord warns what would happen to anyone who changes one jot or tittle of his Word. So read Christ’s Word, hide it in your heart and work to see it established in your life, in your family’s life, in the church and in the world. Teach God’s Word, starting in your home, and note that the Lord puts the focus especially on fathers to do this. Keep your children alive! As it says in Proverbs 4:6: “Do not forsake her , and she will preserve you…” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be diligent in reading, meditating on and promoting the Holy Scriptures and that you will rely on God’s Word to guide in all areas of your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 12 – Proverbs on lying

“He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.” – Proverbs 12:17  Scripture reading: Proverbs 6:12-19 The tongue, which was created as an instrument to praise God, can instead be the source of great hurt, great, great hurt, when it tells lies. What happens when you lie? When you lie there is chaos in society. Proverbs 20:28 tells us “Mercy and truth preserve the king, and by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.” But when you lie, families and churches are destroyed. Consider some examples: A mother who lies to protect her children from discipline destroys godly order. Those children lose a sense of what the truth is and would not be able to trust the Bible and its doctrines. A State that teaches that abortions are not murders, or a civil court that says that spanking a child is mentally destructive, is undermining societal structure and robs God of honor. As we learn in Proverbs 26:28: “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Moreover, lying in court can send an innocent man to his death. No wonder lying lips are compared to poisonous snakes. Ultimately, lying lips send people to hell. How then are you enabled to speak the truth and help to maintain order and bring honor to the Lord? When you are filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus, Who is the personification of truth in you, you will speak the truth. There is no other way! Proverbs 8:7 says: “For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Invest in truth. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will know the truth, speak the truth and train your children to do so and that you will support the speaking of truth in every area of society. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 11 – Proverbs on love

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” – Proverbs 10:12 Scripture reading: Proverbs 17:9-14 Love is not the excited feeling you sometimes get around a girlfriend or wife. That may be a response to love, but it isn’t love. Solomon described love quite differently. Love is not a feeling. Love is an act. Love is shown and seen. You are commanded to love all men, but your love must be stronger for those who are closer to you. So love your wife more than you love your neighbor. Never allow your children to doubt your love. Love them by exercising discipline, as we read in Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Love will make you confront sin in the lives of others as it says in Proverbs 27:5-6: “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Love even your enemies, as we we are taught in Proverbs 25:21: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…” Remember, love is not a popularity contest (done to be loved back). Love is work! You are only able to love the way God commands after you experience God’s love in Jesus Christ. So only the Christian can truly love. That’s the truth! Be warned then not to intermarry with non-believers because they can’t truly love. They don’t know true love. Are there benefits in love? God promises to bless those who love. Also, others may love you back and you will find contentment. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will grow in your sanctification by learning how to love and that you will die to selfishness and reflect more on God’s Love Letter. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 10 – Proverbs on giving and receiving honor

“By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” – Proverbs 22:4  Scripture reading: Proverbs 26:1-8 It is strange that in our society we often give movie stars and sports personalities more honor than we give policemen. If you watch reality TV shows about policemen, you’ll find there is an increasing lack of respect for them and you’ll even see violent attacks against them. And they serve us and protect us. But God commands you to show honor! Start with the fifth commandment and honor those on whom God places honor: parents, elders, teachers, employees, etc. (Proverbs 3:35). Respect them and treat them well. You are able to humble yourself and honor others when you remember what you were before and what the Lord Jesus has made of you. You were the pauper running madly to hell. He rescued you and gave you a new heart, a new record and a new life. You were brought into His kingdom, protected and fed. He then commands you to honor those over you. Then make it easy for people to honor you by living well. Don’t praise yourself; wait for honor. As Proverbs 27:2 says: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Or as we read in Proverbs 12:9: “Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.” Gain honor by fearing the Lord (Proverbs 15:33). Don’t be proud. Pride will destroy you (Proverbs 18:12). Or as it says in Proverbs 25:27, “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will worship and honor God in humility and that you will not boast about what you are or have accomplished and that you will honor those God has placed over you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 9 – Proverbs on friends and neighbors

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17  Scripture reading: Proverbs 19:1-6 It is very sad when a person has few or no friends. It is wonderful when you have friends – friends you are able to support and friends who support you back. You can pour out your hearts to each other. You can laugh, be sad and grow together. Those who like being alone rob themselves of one of the greatest blessings God gave to His children and they are robbing God of the praises that come to Him through friendships. But here are some warnings the wise man wanted to pass on regarding friendship and neighbors. Choose your friends carefully. Consider what you can give to a friendship, not just what you can get. Don’t choose friends because they are rich or have influence. Choose friends who won’t abandon you in difficult times. (Do you remember David and Jonathan’s faithfulness to each other?) Don’t be a fairweather friend either. A true friend will speak the truth to you, even if it hurts. A good friend will challenge your sinful actions. A good friend will challenge you to grow in your faith. You must also consider there may be friends you have to give up because they don’t build you up. That is a small price to pay. Christ died for you and brought you into His family with many wonderful brothers and sisters. Moreover, He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Enjoy Christian company and work together for Christ’s glorious kingdom. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be unselfish in your friendships and that you will work together with friends and neighbors for Christ’s kingdom and that you will always speak the truth. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 8 – Proverbs on discipline of children

“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.” – Proverbs 19:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 13:22-24 I heard someone say, “My children are my friends; I don’t hit friends.” But that is wrong on two fronts. First, your children may be friendly with you, but they are not your friends. They are your children! You don’t make friends eat vegetables or go to church. Second, you don’t “hit” your children; you spank them. Hitting is to satisfy your anger. God commands discipline. As Proverbs 13:24 says “… But he who loves his son disciplines him promptly.” So to not discipline your children is to hate them. That same verse begins: “He who spares his rod hates his son…” You must discipline from love. And you are to start discipline when they are young. And of course, spanking is not the only form of discipline. As children get older, the type of discipline changes. Children need discipline. In Proverbs 19:18 we read: “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction…” You can’t bend a branch when it is old. It is hard to do a worse thing to your children than not disciplining them. There are blessings to discipline (especially when it is combined with instruction). Discipline teaches a child to be humble. Discipline restores the child to the right path. In fact, Solomon said that if you spank your child you will save his soul from hell (Proverbs 23:13-14). So to not discipline your child is to desire for his death! And don’t forget the shame a bad child brings to parents. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be able to discipline from love not from anger and that you will have patience with your children, knowing God’s patience with you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 7 – Proverbs on taking advice

“By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” – Proverbs 13:10 Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:25-27 Some people think they know everything and so they don’t want to take any advice. Other people struggle with pride so they don’t want to take advice. But the reality is that every single person at one time or another (and for most of us, many times) needs advice. When you take advice, you not only evidence a humble spirit, but you are also equipped to better serve the Lord. Taking advice is a mark of wisdom. Through taking advice you gain wisdom. If you don’t take advice, you are foolish and you won’t be able to be effective for the kingdom. Remember the foolishness of King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and how he lost most of the kingdom for taking bad advice! And didn’t Napoleon ignore advice about the Russian winter and faced a horrible defeat? So take advice. Take sound advice from those who are grounded in the Lord and know more than you. The Lord stores wisdom in others. Draw from them. Later in life you will be able to pass on that advice. As Proverbs 15:22 says: Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established. Your Wonderful Counselor, Who Himself is the personification of wisdom, saved you and will equip you through His Word and through His servants! Listen carefully. Listen to the Lord and live. Only He has good advice. The Devil pretends to be wise, but he leads men to their death! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would not be a know-it-all and that you would seek advice from others to do the work the Lord has called you to in the home, church and society. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 6 – Proverbs on alcohol

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1 Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:29-35 God gave alcohol as a blessing to man, not a curse. Jesus personally made barrels of fine wine for people to enjoy at a wedding. Christians drank wine at fellowship feasts. So wine is not sinful. The trouble comes when this gift of God is abused, when it is consumed in inordinate amounts, or when it is consumed by those who should not use it. But just as you may not blame food for being fat, you must not blame alcohol for drunkenness. The abuse of a gift doesn’t make it a bad gift. What are the consequences of drunkenness? Poverty. Spousal abuse. Murder. Consider Solomon’s direct words from Proverbs 23:19-21, Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way. Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty… Yes, the abuse of alcohol does bite like a viper, but ultimately, the greatest consequence of alcohol abuse is hell. How can you prevent drunkenness? First, if you do drink alcohol, make sure it is in moderation. And you will have to stand before God and account for “moderation.” Second, remember that you don’t need to drown your troubles or escape reality with alcohol. The Lord will help you through your trials. You are His. Third, remember your sufficiency is in Christ. He meets the greatest needs of your life. Learn to be satisfied in Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will guard against drunkenness in your life and that you will not use alcohol to avoid dealing with troubles in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 5 – Proverbs on the poor

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.” – Proverbs 19:17  Scripture reading: Proverbs 28:19-22 Poor people are all around. You see them on the streets asking for help. You see their images on TV at Christmas time and you hear the pleas to help them. There are also the poor among the people of God who need help and they must be your first priority. You start with helping at home! (By the way, those who teach that Christians who are poor are only poor because they lack faith are unkind and wrong. God may providentially want some to be poor so they can empathize with other poor people and help them. God may also ordain people to be poor in order that the rich could learn to care for them.) In order to help the poor in the church, God appointed deacons. Along with deacons, God wants you to be merciful to the poor and help them. But you are not only to help the poor by giving them money. In fact, money may not be their greatest need. They may need a rebuke and they may need advice on how to spend money. They may need encouragement to be patient in poverty. You may help the poor by speaking up for them if someone is abusing them. Your motivation to show kindness is in the fact that Jesus showed love to you and enriched you. As a result, you would want to help His people, especially the poor ones. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will show you those who are truly needy and that you will be generous and reflect on how rich you are in Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 4 – Proverbs on food

“Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.” – Proverbs 25:16  Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:19-21 The average North American eats more than 150 pounds of sugar per year. No wonder North America is the fattest continent in the world. But the misuse of food is not new. It occurred many, many times in the Bible. Now, Solomon enjoyed food, even exotic, tasty food. Food is God’s gift. But because of abuse of food, which hinders our sanctification, Solomon was compelled to address the issue of food abuse, or rather, body abuse. What did he teach? Enjoy your food, but don’t be a glutton. Being a glutton is acting as if God couldn’t provide for you tomorrow and you must eat all today. It is also an abuse of the body. Many diseases are caused by overeating. Enjoy your food, but learn to share with those who do not have, especially with those who are from the same blood, the blood of Jesus. Remember, the reason you have more food is not because you are better than Christians in Africa, but because God is pleased to bless you. A suggestion might be to miss one meal a week and give that money to the needy. (That might be good for your health as well!) Enjoy your food, but don’t waste it. Save up for hard times. Learn from Solomon’s ants (Proverbs 30:25). It seems that ants even store up more food when they sense a famine coming. Not being a glutton and not hoarding is evidence that you are growing in Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will teach you to live a balanced life and that you will share of your abundance and be satisfied with God’s gifts. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 3 –  Proverbs on anger

“A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” – Proverbs 15:18 Scripture reading: Proverbs 22:24-25 Good anger is a God-given emotion that every Christian must use properly. So be angry when your God is blasphemed and when His people are attacked. Be angry when babies are killed by abortions, when the family is attacked by the state and when covenant youths sin against the Lord. Then respond in the right way, knowing that even good anger can become sinful if your response is improper. For instance, if you are angry, but do nothing when you see Christian young people doing wrong, breaking the Sabbath, for instance, your anger becomes sinful. But there is also anger that is sinful. Sinful anger has resulted in wives being abused, people being killed in motor vehicle accidents, divorces, broken friendships and destroyed congregations. Men and women can become like volcanoes and blow up, even as Moses, who struck the rock instead of speaking to it for water for Israel. Other people bottle things up until their anger finally explodes. So when you are properly angry, react properly. Pray, speak and act if you can. When you are sinfully angry, ask God for the cure for sinful anger. Ask Him to make you patient with others in their weaknesses. If you ask anything in Christ’s name, He will give it to you. God has obligated Himself to do so. So stop saying you can’t control your anger. Sin is not able to reign in your body unless you let it. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might learn to control your anger and be patient and kind with others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

January 2 - Proverbs on fear

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." – Proverbs 29:25  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:24-26 Everyone is afraid of something. But not all fear is bad. You may fear standing at the edge of a cliff, touching a hot stove or hearing the rattle of a rattlesnake. Those are good fears. So use these fears. They will save your life. What about bad fears? First, there are irrational fears, like the fear of house spiders or the fear of enclosed spaces. There is no real danger, but some are afraid of these things. Second, some fear things that are outside of their control, like the future.  And this type of fear is based on a distrust of God, or at least it is based on a weak trust in God. Fear makes people prisoners. They don’t do what they should because they are afraid they can't control their circumstances. They don’t drive because they think they could have an accident and hurt someone. They won’t evangelize because they are afraid of rejection. They lack trust in God’s providence. They don’t think that God is willing and able to help. They may isolate themselves and not fulfill their responsibilities. How can you cure bad fears? The fear of God is the cure for sinful fears. Proverbs 9:10 tells us "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” The “fear of God” means you know and trust Him. You know and trust Him through Jesus. You experience love. Perfect love casts out fear. Love conquers fears. The more you love, the less you fear. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will see how fear cripples you from doing God’s work and ask the Lord to remove fears so you can live for Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON.  He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of January

We do not preach a lot of sermons from Proverbs, but it is not Solomon’s fault.  He was inspired by God to write these proverbs and God preserved them for us.  Since all Scriptures speak of Christ (how He saved us and how He sanctifies us for His glory) then we must find Christ in them.  It is our fault therefore that we do not preach more from Proverbs. One of the reasons we likely have not heard more preaching from Proverbs is that the book is seen as a list of morals. And since we insist on historical, redemptive preaching, Proverbs doesn’t seem to fit well into that way of preaching.  Well, maybe it is hard to preach Proverbs, but we must be bold.  We must dig into Proverbs and learn of our salvation and sanctification through Jesus Christ. This is what we will do this month. I hope after this month you will take more time to dig into this book regularly and see the rich doctrines it contains and illustrates. Let God’s Word bless you. Proverbs on pride  “By pride comes nothing but strife…” – Proverbs 13:10a  Scripture reading: Proverbs 21:1-5 Do you enjoy being around a humble person, someone with a gentle spirit?  You feel safe around him.  But it is most difficult to be around a show-off or egomaniac. He only talks about himself and you can’t wait to get away from him. What does pride look like? Proverbs 21:24 says: “A proud and haughty man —'Scoffer' is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.” A man may think he is superior by virtue of his education, money, position, ability or influence. What happens when one has pride?  The proud man with elevated feelings crushes others or takes advantage of them. Because of pride, Solomon enslaved his fellow Jews!  Pride caused slavery. Pride caused the destruction of the Jews in the holocaust by Hitler, the slaughter of the Armenians by the Muslims, and the murder of the Chinese and Koreans by the Japanese. Today we see pride when men abuse their wives, belittle different races and display impatience. God may destroy you if you are proud or destroy the thing in which you show your pride: car, wealth, job, education or health!  Remember Herod and the worms! Remember Adam. How do you cure pride? Know that God hates the proud.  Proverbs 8:13 tells us: “…Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate." God brings them down to destruction. You must, therefore, remember you are not your own but belong to your Saviour Who died for you. You are His servant. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will follow wisdom (another name for Jesus) and abandon pride, that you will humbly serve and worship the Saviour. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON.  He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed....

Daily devotional

December 31 – The return of the King: Enjoying paradise forever!

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” – Isaiah 65:17 Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-5, 22-27; 22:1-5 The story of the Bible ends where it began: in the Paradise of a newly created world. The first Paradise was ruined by sin and cursed by God. Pain and punishment, sickness and sadness, disease and death resulted. But the story of the Bible has a “happily ever after” ending for all who trust in Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes again, the heavens and earth will be cleansed by fire (2 Peter 3:7,10-13). This is Good News. It will be a purifying fire that destroys all evil and purifies all that is good. It will be step one in God's work of “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Notice God does not say He will make “all new things” but that He will make “all things new.” While the absence of sin and its consequences will make the new creation feel very different from this fallen one, it will also feel very familiar: we will build houses and dwell in them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit, long enjoy the work of our hands; animals will populate the earth, living in peace without preying on each other; we will feast on the best of meats and finest of wines at the Bridegroom's banquet (Isaiah 65:21-25; 25:6-8). There will be no more curse. We won't even remember that sickness, sadness, sin and death once existed. We will dwell with God and each other in perfect harmony forever and ever. We cannot even imagine how amazing it will be (1 Corinthians 2:9). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you, in keeping with God's promise, would live each day looking forward to the new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness, which God has prepared for those who love Him (2 Peter 3:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 30 – The character of the King’s return

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” – Revelation 1:7  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:9-18; 19:11-21 On Christmas Day we looked back in time to remember Jesus' first Advent, but we look forward to His second Advent. And it will be very different in character. Jesus' first Advent was not noticed by many people. Only a few shepherds, and later, some wise men from the east, came to see the newborn King. Interestingly, Jesus' enemies looked for Him, but could not find Him. What a contrast to His second coming where Jesus will be noticed by everyone and His enemies will not be able to flee from Him. Jesus came to earth the first time as a humble, helpless babe wearing not a prince's garb, but swaddling cloths. He lay not in a cradle, but an animal's feeding trough. His birthplace was not a palace, but a barn. However, when Jesus returns, He will come as a mighty, majestic King wrapped in flowing, royal robe, riding a royal steed, and wielding a double-edged sword. Jesus' first coming focused on bringing salvation to His people through His atoning death. His second coming focuses on bringing judgment upon His enemies through their eternal death. When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised, the earth will quake and a final fault-line will be formed as the final separation takes place. All those standing on Satan's side will be swallowed up by eternal death in hell. But those on Jesus' side will live on the green grass of God's new creation from that day forward and forevermore. Whose side do you stand on? Where does your loyalty lie? Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus that if you trust in Him, you can confidently await His return as Judge, for on the cross He already stood trial in your place and removed God's wrath when He bore the curse for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 29 – The timing of the King’s return

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” – Matthew 25:13  Scripture reading: Matthew 25:1-13 As our thoughts turn toward the end of the year, it is natural for our thoughts to also turn to the end of time and the beginning of eternity. We know that this year ends in three days and that the year 2020 will end 366 days after it begins. But we don't know when Jesus will return to bring the world as we know it to an end and cause a recreated world to begin. Jesus tells us, “No one knows about that day or hour. The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:36,44). He then tells a parable to teach us to always be ready for His return. The ten bridesmaids are part of a wedding party. They are awaiting the bridegroom to arrive, but he is delayed. The delay is not the problem. Unpreparedness is. Five of the bridesmaids did not bring extra oil. When their lamps burn out, they have to head back to town to buy more oil. Tragically, the bridegroom returns while they are away. He takes with him those who are ready, but leaves behind those who were unprepared. This reminds us that Christianity is not a one-time decision for Christ, nor an insurance policy to be renewed on an annual basis. It is a moment-by-moment lifestyle of repentance and trust. We get ready and remain ready for His return by continually confessing our sins, and by continually trusting that His blood cleanses us and His righteousness clothes us. Jesus will return. Are you ready? Will you stay ready? Suggestions for prayer Thank God that the oil of forgiveness is continually and freely available through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. Ask for help to live in a constant state of readiness by continually confessing sin and by continually trusting in the cleansing power of Jesus' blood. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 28 – Departure & arrival announcements

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:3  Scripture reading: Mark 8:31-33; John 13:33-36; 14:1-4 Jesus, the Saviour, had finally come. For three years He captivated the crowds by teaching, healing and feeding them – all free of charge! Excitement was surging. Then, when Jesus mounted a donkey and rode into Jerusalem, the crowds were ecstatic. He was entering the capital city, and doing so in kingly fashion! The crowds knew what this meant. This was exactly what they had been waiting for. Jesus was going to seat Himself on the throne of David in the city of David! As Messiah, He would depose depraved King Herod, overthrow the Roman overlords, and gain complete independence for the Jews. This would be heaven on earth! That's how most Jews thought the story would go. But that's not at all how the story actually goes. It actually goes exactly the way Jesus said it would go: He suffered, died, rose, and departed. Jesus had explained this sequence of events to His disciples. But like a child who tunes out when a parent starts saying something she doesn't want to hear, the disciples tuned out when Jesus began to talk about His suffering and death. They didn't listen long enough to hear the word 'rise.' The disappointment caused by His death soon gave way to delight as He rose on the third day. Then disillusionment set in again as Jesus announced His departure. But it shouldn't have, for in the very same breath, He announced His return. And because Jesus came the first time, as God promised, you can be sure He will come a second time. He promised! Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for the promise of His return and for the joy of knowing that when He returns, He will welcome all who trust in Him into the new creation over which He will reign as eternal King. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 27 – Enjoying the Savior’s presence: blessings flow far as the curse is found

“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” – Matthew 11:5  Scripture reading: Mark 1:14-34 The Gospels quickly move from Jesus as a baby in a manger and boy in the temple to Jesus as a powerful Preacher and a marvelous miracle-working Man. His teaching amazed people because He taught with a calm, compassionate, kind, confident authority they had never heard before. All the other prophets spoke about God, but Jesus spoke as if He was God. And His miracles provided abundant proof that He was indeed God. With words, Jesus not only communicated ideas, but controlled creatures and creation alike. At His command, demons departed, leprosy left and fevers fled. Lame limbs were restored to life, sight was restored to the blind, speech returned to the mute, sound was again heard by the deaf. At His word, raging winds ceased, surging waves were stilled. Most amazing of all, when He spoke, the dead would hear His powerful voice and walk right out of their tomb (John 11:43-44)! If Jesus could do all this by speaking a word, you can be sure people's sins were forgiven too when He said they were. No wonder people came in droves when Jesus came to town. The whole world was going after this Doctor who healed both soul and body (John 12:19). What an exciting time! Through the miracles He performed, Jesus gave a glimpse of what life in His kingdom would be like: No more would sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground because He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. Suggestions for prayer Thank Jesus for the cosmic scope of salvation He brings. He saves not only our souls, but also our bodies which He promises to raise and restore, transforming them and making them like His glorious body. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 26 – Celebrating the Savior’s coming (2) with gentile Wise Men

 “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:10-11 Scripture reading: Matthew 2:1-12 On the night Jesus was born, an angelic choir announced His birth to Jewish shepherds who then hurried off to worship Him. Some time later, a special star announced to Gentile astrologers from the east that a Jewish king had been born. Guided by a special star, they arrived in the Jewish capital of Jerusalem. Guided the rest of the way by Micah's prophecy, they headed ten kilometers south to Bethlehem. There they found the King and worshiped Him. Notice that Jesus certainly is King of the Jews, but He is not King of only the Jews. The angel had told the Jewish shepherds that the birth of the Saviour was good news for all people. Now Gentile astrologers from the east travel from afar to worship King Jesus and pay homage with lavish gifts to celebrate this joyous event in a festal way. Just being a member of a church, having Christian parents, or setting up a Christmas tree doesn't mean you worship King Jesus. The Jews of Jesus' day had their church membership, Jewish parents, and customary clothes and religious rituals. But Herod, the religious leaders, and many common folk, wanted nothing to do with Jesus. In contrast, these wise Gentile men did! Though they worshiped Him with the limited knowledge they had, they worshiped Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords. In so doing, they foreshadow the worship that is now and ever will be offered to Jesus by Gentiles from all nations, tribes and tongues. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He redeems the rich and poor, shepherds and sages, Jews and Gentiles, and is building a Church that consists of people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 25 – Celebrating the Savior’s coming (1) with Jewish Shepherds

“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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.'” – Luke 2:10-11   Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-20 After not just hundreds, but thousands of years, the long-awaited Saviour was born. Although we don't know what day Jesus was actually born, it is certainly fitting that we set aside a day to remember His birth because His birth is the most important event in the history of the world. God certainly thought so. Look how He announced the birth of His Son. Suddenly, and without warning, the stillness of the dark night was broken. It was as if God switched on a set of bright spotlights, instantly transforming the field in which Jewish shepherds were sitting into an outdoor theatre where a spectacular sound-and-light show unfolded. First one angel pierced through the darkness with glorious, heavenly light while heralding good news of great joy: “Today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you.” Then a whole host of heavenly heralds appeared, bursting forth in praise, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” After the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem. Finding everything to be just as the heavenly heralds had said it would be, they returned home with hearts filled with uncontainable joy. Acting as the first evangelists, they imitated the angels by announcing the Good News of the Saviour's birth to those around them. Will you, like the shepherds, praise God for the gift of His Son and tell others that He is what Christmas is all about? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for fulfilling His promise to send the Saviour, and pray for an opportunity to share the meaning of Christmas with someone who might not know Who it's really all about. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....

Daily devotional

December 24 – A frequently forgotten advent figure: John the Baptist

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” – John1:29 “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” – Matthew 3:2,8 Scripture reading: Matthew 3:1-12 Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Pictures of peace and tranquility likely come to mind — perhaps that of a silent and holy night where all is calm and all is bright. So why consider John the Baptist? Didn't he wear clothes made of camel's hair, eat locusts and wild honey, and preach rather unsettling sermons? Yes, indeed. But despite his unusual personality and unpopular message, he is a very important Advent figure. John was born as little as six months before Jesus. As the last Old Testament prophet, he announced Christ's arrival with a declaration that contained a Passover connection: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But John suddenly switches his focus to Jesus' second coming. The fire John speaks about is not the warm glow of Christmas candlelight. The axe is not used for chopping down Christmas trees. John is speaking about the eternal fires of hell and the axe God will use to cut down the wicked. Then, like a parent who says, “I'm sick of hearing you say you're sorry. Show me you are sorry,” John calls us to bear fruit that shows our repentance and faith is genuine. We ought not to forget John the Baptist during the Advent season. By reminding us of the wrath of God that will be revealed at Jesus' second coming, John enables us to properly appreciate what Jesus came to do in His first coming: He bore God's wrath on the cross to give us peace with God. Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins, include your half-hearted 'sorries', to God. Ask for assurance that through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, this forgiveness has indeed been granted, God's wrath has been removed, and you have peace with God. Also, thank Jesus for His promise that all who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015....