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Daily devotional

September 29 – At the end of the warning there is Jesus

For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil? – Nahum 3:19b Scripture reading: Luke 10:1-21 Nahum ends with a question that can only, finally, be answered when Jesus takes up the work His Father has given Him. Humanly speaking, restraining evil is like trying to nail water to a wall. The water runs everywhere, touches and soaks everything. Evil seems so pervasive as well, splashing around, under and through so many things. It seems like everything is soiled and ruined by evil. When Jesus went to preach in a town, He sent disciples ahead of Him. These men demonstrated the power of Jesus over evil by healing the sick and setting free those who were demon-possessed. The powerful message they brought in Jesus’ Name was so great that people would be curious and, prompted by the Spirit, would open their homes to these disciples. There would be, of course, people who saw the signs and heard the message whose response would be one of greater hostility towards God. Not everyone the disciples met was appointed unto life with Jesus in eternity. Weeks of examining the seemingly endless warnings of Nahum and reading of the specific sins of the Assyrians can be so overwhelming. Thanks be to God the whole of the prophetic warnings point to Jesus. He is the end of the story. Jesus has won. Everything once stained by sin can be made whole again by the blood of Jesus. Any who repent and believe are written in the Lamb’s book of life. These dire warnings are profitable if, because of them, people turn from their sins and submit to Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God the names of believers are written in the Lamb’s book of life; thanks be to God evil will one day, be fully thrown into hell. Pray that by the warnings we have read, God will increase our desire for holiness and increase our joy in His salvation. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 28 – Evil restrained

There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. – Nahum 3:19 Scripture reading: 2 Thess. 2 The prophecy spoken by Nahum is like a battle-strike on the enemy, who hit, and now punch-drunk from the force of the blow will die. There is no healing possible from this wound. The word of the LORD was sent and it will accomplish its purpose. In this case, the prophecy will serve both to put an end to the evil of Assyria and to call to repentance all the other nations that hear of Assyria’s ruin. The LORD will restrain unceasing evil. In every generation, in every age, it is the LORD Himself Who restrains evil. He limits the power and influence of a prince, a noble or a nation so that it is the glory and majesty of our God which are revealed to be unrivaled. Lawlessness and wicked deceptions serve to separate the believers from those wicked ones who merely seem to believe and from those vile offenders against God whose actions are obvious to all. In Old Testament times, believers saw God enthroned above the cherubim, leading out His angel armies and mighty hosts against which no power could stand. Today, followers of Jesus Christ, know the cross has disarmed all of Satan’s demonic activity. Our confidence is not in political parties or human efforts. It is by the grace of God, magnificently demonstrated in Jesus Christ, that believers take our stand. By His Spirit, He will establish us in every good work and word. While the wicked clap hands over their ears in horror, the righteous shout the praise of God’s victories. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that evil is restrained; pray for the further restraint of evil that the glory of God may rise up over our lands. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 27 – Undershepherds of our Shepherd-King

Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles slumber. – Nahum 3:18 Scripture reading: Ezekiel 34:1-16 Nahum’s prophecy is eloquently layered for New Testament Christian readers. The first layer is the warning that the people of Assyria ought to be the primary concern of the King and nobles. Ezekiel prophesied the duties of the king and nobles. Most important is that such shepherd leaders keep in view their accountability to the LORD of Heaven and Earth, to Whom all men must give an account for their actions. The second layer of this prophecy reminds the people of the LORD of the high calling they have to honor the LORD their God. In calling out the wickedness of the Assyrians, the people of Judah are not to gloat over an enemy’s fall into ruin; instead, they are to examine their own conduct. By the time of Ezekiel, the Assyrians had already been defeated. What a stark warning this should have been for the leadership in the household of faith to stay true to the LORD as shepherd-leaders. As New Testament Christians we read these words and are reminded that Jesus is our Good Shepherd (John 10). He has sought out the people of the LORD and He has bound up the wounded. He has fed and refreshed the lost sheep. We read these words and are reminded, wherever the Spirit of the LORD has placed us, we serve as under-shepherds of Jesus Christ. We raise our families to know and obey Him. If we are single, in whatever capacity God has given us charge of, we make His Name known in acts of service. Suggestions for prayer Pray to be faithful in your role as an under-shepherd in the kingdom of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and for the leadership of your city, your region and nation, to live in view of their calling before God. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 26 – The Prince who cares

Your princes are like grasshoppers, your scribes like clouds of locusts settling on fences in a day of cold—when the sun rises, they fly away; no one knows where they are. – Nahum 3:17 Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:1-11 Blessed Sunday to one and all! Remember the first day of the month, when I noted that the LORD is urgently calling out, like a mother concerned for the welfare of her child who is running into danger? The prophet is speaking these words, terrible as they are to hear, as an urgent, final appeal for the people of the Assyrian Empire to repent. God the Father is faithful, in contrast to the faithless, self-serving princes and ruling class. In a day of calamity and darkness, the princes of a nation must show compassionate leadership. Those who enjoy history might remember when King Edward the VIII abdicated the throne of England. His unpopular brother, George the VI, was thrust, unwillingly, to the throne. When World War II saw the bombing of London, King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, toured the devastated areas. The population of London grew to love their monarch. This is a sharp contrast to Nineveh. When troubles started brewing in the Assyrian Empires, the princes enriched themselves and fled. The scribes and educated people grabbed what they could and ran. Therefore, they’re referred to as locusts. Locusts eat every green plant; when a land is devastated, locusts take off and go onto the next green area to devour. What a contrast we have in Christ Jesus, the High King of Heaven, Who laid down His life for His people. The King of Heaven guides His people and leads through trials and troubles to the way of salvation. His Word is our guide. His Spirit communicates His nearness. Suggestions for prayer By the Spirit offer up prayers of praise and adoration, worship and thanksgiving to God for all His rich blessings so extravagantly revealed in Jesus Christ. Pray for those who because of persecution and government oppression are unable to openly gather for worship. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 25 – Wealth and your citizenship in Babylon or Jerusalem

You increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens. The locust spread its wings and flies away. – Nahum 3:16 Scripture reading: Rev. 18:4-8; Rev. 18:11-17 The Bible depicts two cities, the cities of righteous Jerusalem contrasted by wicked Babylon. The Assyrian Empire and her great capital of Nineveh are prophesied over, and part of the promised ruin will be the fleeing merchants. Like Babylon of Revelation, the riches of Nineveh had multiplied. Their fine products were taken as plunder from enemies, some of it from nations subjugated whose resources were pillaged to increase the wealth of the Assyrian empire. All of it added to the wicked and godless pride of the nation which had forgotten the mercies of God poured out on her a century earlier. Merchants can hear rumors from distant lands with which they trade, learn information from wealthy clients and can be like a barometer of what is about to happen. Nahum prophesied the merchants and their wealth would, like locusts, fly away to greener pastures where food is plentiful. They see the coming disaster faster than the leaders and the population. Upturns and downturns of the marketplace should not cause Christians to fear. Every earthly kingdom, every rich empire, like Babylon of Revelation, will one day be thrown down into ruin. The holy city of Jerusalem, where the righteous, those made clean by the blood of Christ at the cross, will flourish. Christians live knowing the kingdoms of this world must be made subject to the reign of Jesus and so will experience marketplace instability to remind the merchants and people that God, the Father, alone is the source of all that is lasting and good. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Spirit of God to help you examine your motives with regards to your financial planning and wealth management. Are you seeking the lasting Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, and using your money, much or little as it is, in service to Jesus our King? Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 24 – God is a consuming fire

There fire will devour you… – Nahum 3:15a Scripture reading: Heb. 12:18-29 What a picture Hebrews gives us. Our God is a consuming fire. Nahum pictures fire as the judgment of God against a wicked city. Hebrews gives a contrasting image; the fire is purifying for all who are in Jesus Christ. Hebrews explains the contrast between the wicked, such as the Ninevites, and the people who believe in the Magnificent God of Blessing. Those who are warned by the Word of God and the prophets of the LORD and still refuse Him will face the sentence their sins deserve. It is the fires and agony of hell. It is not something Christians celebrate. Rather, this terrifying knowledge drives us as believers to worship God and appeal to Him for the salvation of many. Even Moses trembled before the Majestic Glory of God at Mt. Sinai. We too, as believers in Jesus Christ, realize the great perfection and purity of God and tremble before Him with adoration and wonder. Recognize Jesus Christ endured the fires of God’s just anger against sin. Jesus was punished so that the fires of God’s judgement would be fully spent and believers, therefore, walk with God in righteousness. This is a great and glorious reason for praising the God of all ages. He is just. He is pure. He is holy. Therefore, in view of the Excellencies of God, believers acknowledge the inestimable worth of God. Join with believers of all ages and offer acceptable praise with reverence and awe. Suggestions for prayer Pray that unbelievers heed the warning of judgment and find salvation in Jesus Christ and in Him with believers acknowledge the inestimable worth of God. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 23 – Terrors no longer terrify Christians

There the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like locusts. – Nahum 3:15 Scripture reading: Luke 10:13-20 In quick succession, terrifying images related to the siege of a city are pronounced as judgment against the Assyrian cities. Yesterday, we noted that when a city expected invaders, water would be hauled into the city and stored for the people to drink. When the enemy used burning arrows against the people shut up behind strong walls, the fires would require quantities of water to quench. Fire was a terrible threat against a city. If there was not enough water to halt the fire’s spread or if the fire took hold before the citizens of the beleaguered city could put it out, then the citizens would have to either die in the city or open its gates and rush out. As they were fleeing they’d be hacked down by the soldiers of the invading hordes. As easily as locusts eat up every blade of grass and every green thing when they swarm, so easily would an invading army destroy the citizenry of the captured city. Some Christians object to the warlike language of Scripture. Our reading in Luke shows that Jesus used such expressions and war terms as well. When the days draw near to Jesus’ return in power and glory, the distress upon the earth will be great. As Christians, we do not need to be afraid. We are confident that our salvation is nearer than ever. Despite the tumult of the world or the rumours of war and upheavals, we need to worship the LORD of Glory Who is drawing near to deliver His people. Suggestions for prayer Pray that many will take refuge in Christ our King and among His people; thanks be to God that there will be an end to violence and wickedness. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 22 – Living defensive stones

Draw water from the siege; strengthen your forts; go into the clay; tread the mortar; take hold of the brick mold!  – Nahum 3:14 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12 If you have a good study Bible while reading Nahum, you’ll have a footnote about this section teaching you that the imperatives, or command forms of the verbs used here are mocking in tone. Something to the effect of: “Go ahead, make all these plans, do all this work.” When the plunderers come to invade a walled city, the usual strategy of preparation for the defenders is to bring in as much water as possible. Marauding armies would encircle a city and starve it out. Obviously, food and water would be critical for the residents to withstand the siege. While studying in preparation to write this devotion I learned that this verse refers to two kinds of Assyrian bricks. The first, clay bricks, were ordinarily used for building. The second reference is to those used for fortifying the defences of the city—bricks that would be molded and fired in a kiln. Again, all such preparations are going to be pointless as their destruction has already been foretold by the LORD and His Word is sure. Interestingly, Peter calls Christians living stones, chosen by God and precious. As Christians gather together, we are being built up as a spiritual house. We are the new temple where Jesus lives in and among His people. We are a defensive structure built up together to defeat the hostile forces of the world and gathered as a holy nation that declares the excellencies of God Who rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the people of God would recognize how the Spirit fits us together in Jesus Christ, for the glory of the Father and the defense of the Church against the enemy. Give thanks to God, the Triune God of every blessing, for the gift of the Church. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 21 – Are you trained for war?

Behold, your troops are women in your midst. – Nahum 3:13a Scripture reading: Ps. 144 Wait a minute, is the text sexist? Does the Bible have something against women? Not at all! Consider the time and the context of this verse. In the ancient Assyrian Empire, women were not trained for battle. Any person who is not trained for battle, when confronted with a horde of armed soldiers with spears, arrows and swords is going to panic and run around in circles. The issue is training. The picture described is accurate. Consider the circles in which many people are running. While I am writing this devotion, Covid-19 is in its third wave. Questions abound as to whether someone vaccinated needs to still wear a mask. Can such a person contract this disease again and when will ‘normal life’ resume? Influential leaders and banks are musing about rewarding investors who back green initiatives that won’t promote climate change. Billionaires are divorcing and the media speculates about the collapse of these marriages, even as the billionaires are taking on new ventures, such as how to shield the earth from too much sunlight. I wonder, who should determine what is too much and what is too little sunlight? Unless our lives are directed by Jesus, the Captain of Salvation, the Author and Perfecter of all true believers, we will run in circles. Those not entirely subjected to Him will run in panic at every sign of every real or imagined disaster. It is the LORD Who trains my hands for war, and it is the LORD Who directs the efforts of His faithful people bringing them to victory. Suggestion for prayer Where is the Spirit of the LORD directing your efforts for serving Jesus? Are you faithful in that area, or are you shrinking back? Give thanks to the Father that He has equipped you by His Spirit, training you for precisely the right battles at the right time. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 20 – Ripe for picking

All of your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs—if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. – Nahum 3:12 Scripture reading: Heb. 2:1-9 Perhaps it is because I am not a farmer, nor have I lived where fig trees grow, that what is described in our text today was basically meaningless to me. I have learned it is difficult to determine when figs are ripe. Those that are on the ground quickly rot. Those that are on the tree should not be plucked because their ripeness is not easily discerned. The best way to gather figs is this: spread out a large cloth around the base of the tree and shake the trunk of the tree. The ripe figs will readily drop onto the cloth. The Assyrians are now ripe for plunder. At the lightest touch of their enemies, they will fall. The enemy is described as the “eater”. With hardly any force or effort, the nation will fall into destruction. Perhaps by now you are getting a bit weary of all these references to plunder, ruin and destruction? I know writing these devotions has been a bit of a challenge because of the repetition. Then I realized how stubborn my own heart was. When I was a child, my parents would say to me, “If I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times, don’t do that!” Like the Assyrians, and like children, we need to hear the repeated warnings of God in order that we will not drift away in our sins, but will be redirected towards His mercy, and in view of His mercy, serve Him with our whole heart, mind, and strength. Suggestions for prayer: Offer up to God in prayer where in your life you are drifting and needing to heed God’s warning to repent and stay true to Him in all you do and say; also pray for those among your family and friends who need to hear the message not to drift. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 19 – Terrible wrath and greater mercy

Yet she became an exile; she went into captivity; her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street; for her honored men lots were cast, and all her great men were bound in chains. – Nahum 3:10 Scripture reading: Ezekiel 33:1-20 The hammer blows continue to fall on Nineveh as the prophet of the LORD declares the terrors that will come to her. But isn’t this Sunday, the day people are supposed to celebrate the LORD and focus on His love? Why read such despicable things? Remember the warning of God is meant to be merciful. Those who hear His words of coming judgment can repent. Also, the warning is clear—as Thebes, also known as No-Amon, famous for being unconquerable, fell to the Assyrians, so too the Assyrians and their capital, Nineveh, will fall. But the description of infants dashed to pieces, surely that is not righteous?! It is what the Assyrian army inflicted on those they conquered. It was all part of the campaign of “shock and awe.” So terrible was the assault of the Assyrian army against its enemies that those defeated would shudder to remember it and refuse to rise up in rebellion. Now, with the same cruelties they inflicted against their enemies, these things will happen to the Assyrians. Why declare these things on a Sunday? Because the LORD our God has rescued us from His wrath through Jesus Christ. Though our sins should have risen as stench to His nostrils, we are, in fact, named the fragrance of Christ—His righteousness is ours. We live in a land that murders babies in the womb. Seniors and those who are ill can be crudely dispatched, and it is named “euthanasia”. As those who are redeemed, we urgently call others from the judgment that is approaching. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for the greatness of His salvation and urgently pray for our land. May the Word bring great repentance and waves of people seeking His mercy. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 18 – Wait, there is still more

…you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. – Isaiah 51:17b Scripture reading: Nahum 3:11; Luke 22:39-46 There are two very apt illustrations used in this verse. Perhaps you have heard the expression “punch drunk”? That is when a boxer has been hit in the head, not hard enough to knock him out, but hard enough to disorient him. There is another level of meaning as well. It may be that the people of Nineveh, if they do not repent, will drink the full cup of God’s wrath and they will be drunken and finally destroyed by it. Secondly, the illustration in this verse is that people will go into hiding. There is some ambiguity in the meaning of the original language. Perhaps it means soldiers will go off and hide themselves in fear. It might also mean that this mighty empire will be hidden by the sands of time. Only archaeologists will ever uncover the existence of this once mighty nation. They are an object of scorn and derision for all who pass by. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, Jesus prayed that the cup would pass and that He would not have to drink it. This cup is what is referred to in Isaiah 51:17, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of staggering. Jesus Himself will take the blows we deserved. He was punished, though He was completely innocent. Jesus was scorned—so terrible was the mocking that any others who faced it would have gone into hiding. Glorious is Jesus, our Redeemer-King; great is the salvation He brings to all who believe. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ; thank Him for the clarity of our new life and blessing of living by the power of the Spirit. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 17 – Prove it

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. – Jeremiah 1:10  Scripture reading: Nahum 3:7-9 and Jer. 1 Prove it. Isn’t that a common reaction people have when confronted with the Word of God? Nahum came to the Assyrian nation with a prophesy so dire you can almost anticipate the arms-folded, hostile response of “prove it”. Interestingly, the LORD anticipates the hard-hearted response and gives His credentials. The Egyptian city of Thebes was strong with many moats and rivers which might make it seem impossible for an army of foot soldiers to conquer. What happened? This powerful city was thrown down by the Assyrians. Even though Thebes could call on strong warrior nations like Egypt and the trading partner nations surrounding her, the Assyrians conquered them. The point is, if a seemingly strong, well-defended city can come crashing down, on what are the Assyrians basing their boasts? No nations are standing with them. No other lands would assist them. The passage from Jeremiah gives the Word of the LORD which ‘proves it’. It is the LORD Who plants a nation or uproots it, the LORD builds up a city or destroys it. Many times, in Scripture, such events were foretold before they happened. What a lesson this is for us. Some of us place our hope in a particular political party, or a gifted orator, or Christian coalitions for change. The lesson from history is clear: God is the ruler of nations. Every nation, political leader, and government will be judged by the High King of heaven: Jesus. He has proved His right to judge. He has proved Himself the only, everlasting King. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that history will come to its fulfilment in Jesus Christ; pray for the eyes of faith to see the work of the LORD. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 16 – Now is the day of salvation

Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts… - Nahum 3:5 Scripture reading: Nahum 3:5-7 and II Chron. 30:1-13 This, humanly speaking, may be one of the darkest and most humiliating degradations that will be inflicted on the Assyrians. All of us wince at the thought of having nakedness exposed. It is too indelicate to even think about. And the humiliation is compounded as those who are so shamefully exposed will also be pelted with filth. You can imagine what the reference “filth” means. Gross! We might be tempted to think that as the people of God, we are so much better than this. II Chronicles is a warning of how the people of God can forget Him. The people scorned and mocked the messengers of the LORD. In Luke 14 Jesus spoke the Parable of the Great Wedding Banquet. The audience was composed of Jewish people. They were confronted with the long-awaited Messiah, their deliverer, and they scorned Him and refused His invitation to be rescued from having their nakedness and their sins exposed. Yet, in Chronicles, it is reported that some faithful people humbled themselves and attended the Passover. In Luke 14 it is reported others, unexpected ones, were invited and tasted the banquet of the King. Revelation 5:9 celebrates the fact that at the Marriage Feast in heaven, Jesus, the Bridegroom, will have people from every tribe, language, nation and people represented. What a mighty God we serve. What graciousness is contained even in His warnings. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the day to repent. Now is the day to celebrate the great salvation given us in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray for teachers, student assistants, attendance monitors, principals, coworkers and coffee klatch friends that they will hear and receive the invitation of God. Give thanks to God for the rich salvation He has given you in Jesus. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 15 – Appropriately warned

Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts… – Nahum 3:5a Scripture reading: Colossians 3:10-17 Why spend all this time on Nahum and a long-forgotten kingdom like the Assyrians? Colossians 3 clearly answers this. Yesterday, we read about the sins of the Assyrians. They were bloodthirsty, sexually promiscuous, and liars. Now consider the fact that the wrath of God is coming against all those who walk in the sins of Nineveh. These sins are listed: sexual immorality, evil desire, anger, wrath, malice, obscene talk (which is evidence of obscene thoughts in the heart and obscene actions which one thinks he carries out in secret). People have not changed. Without the saving work of Jesus Christ, men and women will always descend to actions of depravity and wickedness. How can change take place? Those who believe in Jesus Christ are united with Him in His death and are united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:4). The same power that raised Christ from the dead, the glory of the Father, is the power that is given to believers so that we can honour God in our minds, in our hearts, in our words and with our actions. What God was asking of the Ninevites was not impossible! He sent a prophet to warn them so that they would, as their forefathers had done, repent. They did not do so, but this history of destruction is a stark warning for believers today. Hearing God’s warning we are invited to be dressed in Jesus’ righteousness. Evil has been conquered, therefore set your desires where Jesus is. Daily put on love, forgiveness and the peace of Christ. Suggestions for prayer May we hear and respond to the warning of the LORD so that we can encourage one another to be clothed in Christ and His perfections. Praise God that He warns His people, gives time and His Spirit to strengthen them for true repentance. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 14 – Humbly serve the living God

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. – Jonah 3:6 Scripture reading: Nahum 3:1-4 and Jon. 3 About one century before this prophecy of Nahum, the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD. He judged them and the people repented at Jonah’s preaching. They humbled themselves by fasting, wearing sackcloths and confessing their sins. So great was their repentance that the LORD withdrew His hand of judgment and punishment. The Ninevites returned to the true purpose which should guide every nation: to humbly serve the Living God. How quickly the Ninevites fell from that place of obedience! They were again a people who shed blood to the point that this capital was called a bloody city. They offered abominable sacrifices to false gods. They were full of lies about their own pre-eminence, about their history and their place in it. They were a people who ruthlessly made war against others. They were a nation that prostituted itself for plunder and pride, victory and perversity. Jesus noted that the work of the Spirit is to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). When the standard of God’s holiness is presented, the hearers are presented with a stark choice of obedience or rebellion. We should not be surprised when hearers rebel. It is painful because we speak and preach Christ from the joy of knowing our sins have been thrown down and His righteousness has taken hold of us. Scripture commands people to glorify God: seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Believer, humbly serve the Living God. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you examine your life so that you are not being pulled in several directions, but your heart and your head are focused on Christ and serving Him in every area of your life. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 13 – The messenger of God

And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 3:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:10-13 and Malachi 3:1-5 Friends of ours complained about their hotel accommodations. They booked a weekend retreat at a distant hotel, longing for some peace and quiet. They were awakened at 6 AM on a Saturday morning to bell ringing and loud shouting. Jumping to his feet and terribly annoyed, the husband threw open the curtains to see a gathering of people dressed up in old-fashioned clothing. It was a town crier’s convention. Long before phones, social media, or telegraph and printed newspapers, an important message would be sent via a town crier. He would shout aloud in the streets bringing news. For example, the Assyrian King Sennacherib sent a messenger, Rabshakeh, to King Hezekiah, to announce Jerusalem’s destruction (II Kings 18:19ff). Nahum’s warning serves to remind the people of God of their own covenant with the LORD. The LORD is not some magical charm to keep them safe and allow them to do whatever evil they want to do and have His immunity. The LORD sends out His messenger of the covenant so that the covenant people—those who are under the binding promises of the LORD their God—will turn from their sins and obey Him. The Gospel of Mark picks up this theme of a Messenger—John the Baptist is the final messenger of the Old Testament who tells the people to prepare for Jesus, the King of Glory. At the cross, the sins of believers are punished on the Person of Jesus. Those who reject Jesus will face God’s punishment in eternity. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He continues to warn us so that people do not have to face His punishment throughout eternity; pray specifically for friends and family members who do not know the mercy of Jesus. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 12 – Haughty lion thrown down

Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered. – Revelation 5:5 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:10-13 and Rev. 5 In a British museum, you’ll find a carved Assyrian stone lion: 15 tons and fierce. The lion is at the base of a large, imposing pillar. Assyrian warriors paraded war prisoners past such lions to intimidate and humiliate them before the royal court. Nations bringing tributes from far off lands had to pass by these lions before giving their lavish gifts to the king. The lion was the symbol of Assyrian power. Now the lion’s den of Assyria will be plundered by the LORD. The tearing lion will be hungry, desolate and ruined. The Assyrian lion will be completely defeated. The nations which had trembled in fear when a messenger of Assyria rode out to declare war against them, will find they are no longer the prey of Assyria. Assyria is fallen and great is her ruin. The LORD of hosts is greater. To name the LORD as the LORD of Hosts is to emphasize His power, His angel armies, His great command of all nations and all history. No one can stand against Him. The book of Revelation depicts Jesus as the Lion of Judah. He is the Great King, Overlord above every ruler of all nations, throughout all generations. Jesus is a conquering, tearing lion. Not one of His enemies can stand against Him. Even today, all who disregard the warning of Nahum will find God to be ferocious. All who turn to Jesus, confessing their sins and hating their rebellious ways, will find  in Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who has taken away their sin. Suggestions for prayer May our nation’s leaders bow before the Lion of Judah. May our lands turn to Jesus. Ask the Spirit to show you the attitude of your own heart. Are you humble before Jesus—is He, for you, the Lamb of God Who has taken away your sins? Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 11 – The Lord’s Day restores clarity

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. – Psalm 73:24 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:4-9 and Ps. 73 Confusion. If asked to summarize these verses in a single word, that is the word I’d choose. A mighty people, once the haughty plunderer of nations, is now thrown down. Instead of orderly waves of chariots going out to battle, panicked charioteers are independently trying to save themselves. Some are protecting their possessions. Some remember they are supposed to be soldiers and they see to the defences of the city, but courage is draining away. Soldiers are melting away. Riches are carried away. It is as if the city, overflowing with pomp, wealth and power, is draining like a bathtub with a pulled plug. How long had the people of God hated the Assyrians and yet been jealous of their wealth? How long did they envy the armies which once swept across nations and desired the gains of gold and silver? It is easy to fall into the trap of admiring the rich and powerful. It is tempting to think, as the Psalmist does, that they never have any problems, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I discerned their end” (Psalm 73:17). Tomorrow is the LORD’s Day. We are reminded that all mighty armies and seemingly unassailable kings and tyrants answer to one Master. As the people of LORD worship, the decrees of God are confirmed, proven in Jesus Christ. The Spirit helps believers to see there is only One eternal power and He is our strength and portion forever. Our God brings order to the confusion of our lives. Suggestions for prayer Have you been envious of others and their successes? Confess it before the LORD; ask that the LORD of power will give you insight into His sure promises which one day will result in the open exaltation of Jesus Christ before Whom every knee will bow. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 10 – Believe it or not, judgment is on its way

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. – I Thessalonians 5:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:1-3 and I Thess. 5:1-11 How was the message of terror broadcast through the streets of Nineveh? Was the message received with awe and seriousness? Perhaps there was a mocking tone that accompanied the report relayed to the King of Assyria. “Oh no, an army is coming against us! Ha ha ha.” The prophetic words are brutal. The shields of the mighty men coming against Assyria (whose capital city is Nineveh) are red. It is an indicator they are covered in the blood of their defeated enemies. No one will be able to withstand the onslaught of this army. The spears are cypress—perhaps meaning they are symbols of power. Or it might mean there are as many spears as there are trees in a cypress forest—such a great number of them will be coming to terrify and overthrow. From our vantage point in history, Christians know the words of the LORD are true. Though the Assyrians ignored the clear warning of the LORD, the judgment fell exactly as it was prophesied. As we read Nahum, we know and believe that the words of our Warrior God are true. The warning to Nineveh is a warning to us as believers also. Be faithful in your loyalty to King Jesus. Day by day, live for His glory. The Day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night, at a most unexpected time. Live in security, knowing no matter how vile and evil the days are, the LORD is brandishing His strong spear of judgment; victory for our King is near at hand. Suggestions for prayer Believers encourage one another with the truth that Jesus is not neglectful; He will return and claim us as His own and bring judgment on the wicked; pray for holiness in your own life which should accompany such a promise of the Lord’s salvation. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 9 – Powerful imagery foreshadowing the New Testament

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. – John 15:4 Scripture reading: Nahum 2:1-2 & John 15:1-13 The interplay of two names for the people of God is significant. It is easy to read a passage and miss this. In our short verse the elect are called Jacob and then Israel. When you read Genesis, you learn that Jacob is a sneaky deceiver. Though he is of the chosen line which will lead to Jesus, he is not an honourable person. Just before Jacob, now married and the father of many children, returns from a distant land to his parents, he encounters a stranger who wrestles with him. The reader learns this is a striving with God. Jacob’s name is changed by this encounter. The LORD calls him Israel. This means he strived, or he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32). Why does this matter? When a person encounters God, the LORD of heaven and earth, he will be changed. Some, like the people of Nineveh, hear and ultimately reject the revelation of God. Others, like Jacob, are transformed by the encounter. Israel will be restored in majesty and Nineveh will be a pruned branch destined for destruction. Though earlier generations had responded to the word, the nation has ultimately rejected the Vinedresser. The New Testament reveals Jesus Christ as the true vine. Those who reject Jesus prove this by their words and life, and are cut off and burned. Those who believe in Him are grafted into Him. They may experience hardship, a pruning, but this will be for greater fruitfulness. The greatest evidence of fruitfulness is love for God and love for one another. Suggestions for prayer Thank God, our Father, for His attentiveness and mercy so that His people bear fruit; pray for our nation, that her leaders may heed the warning to be fruitful for the glory of Christ our True King. Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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