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Daily devotional

September 4 – Where is Elkosh?

So that you are not lacking any gift, as you wait for the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end. – I Corinthians 1:7-8 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1 and I Corinthians 1:4-9; 26-31 What do we really know about Nahum of Elkosh? The location of his hometown is unknown. Was he one of the deported people, a displaced person in Nineveh anointed by the Spirit of the LORD to daringly proclaim this warning? Was he part of Galilee, the region of Northern Israel that constantly had invaders running through it? He’d be part of the despised of Israel – those people – who’d intermarried with foreigners. Some think he was from Judah; that is the opinion of many scholars. Reflecting on this man’s ministry leads me to think he is incredibly brave. Think of it. If he were one of the deportees, his bold testimony about the downfall of Nineveh would amount to treason. No doubt the enemy would want to silence him. If he lived in Galilee, then others from Israel might mock him as a hick from a backwater town. If he is from Judah, he might be despised by the people from the other ten tribes, who were so oppressed by the Assyrians. When the LORD takes hold of a man or a woman, He calls this person to serve Him, regardless of the consequences. When the LORD our God raises you up in Jesus Christ, He gives the Spirit so that you can serve with holy boldness. Know this, being a servant of the LORD comes at a cost. You may feel nameless. God knows you intimately. Jesus is your Ruler; therefore, your true citizenship is in heaven, where Jesus is. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Spirit’s work compelling men and women to serve in difficult places; bless God for the call He has placed on your life and the Spirit He gives so that in all circumstances you can call on the Name of Jesus. Pray for seminary professors who have the awesome task of training up the next generation of leaders. 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 3 – A parade of God’s power

When he ascended on high he led a host of captives… – Ephesians 4:8 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:3-5 and Ephesians 4:1-17 Why do nations have military parades? To show the power of that nation’s army, tanks, and artillery to the world. It has in it an implicit threat, a dare to anyone who might consider advancing against them. Nahum is presenting the LORD of Hosts and verbally parading His power. The purpose is to get the attention of these warlike people who are feebly standing up against a power about Whom they have no concept or understanding. Desert dust storms are a real threat. It is reported that hundreds of millions of tons of dust are blown off the Sahara Desert each year—let that sink in. The violence of a sandstorm stops armies and causes the most hardened person to rush for cover. This is the power of the LORD our God. Mountains quake before him—those immovable pillars of rock of massive stature seem so impervious to any threat. These dance before the steps of the LORD. He rebukes the sea. All it takes is a word from the LORD and even mighty rushing waters are held back. The credentials of the LORD are well-known on this. Think of Exodus, where the LORD parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21ff). Dearly loved people of God, when the world and its powers threaten you, be reassured that this LORD of power and glory rides the heavens to bless those who, in Christ, turn to Him. Yet, His power to curse is real, gathering against all who hate Him. Today, as He parades His power to bless, humble yourself before Him. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His mighty acts of power and His salvation; ask for help and strength in the areas of your life where you feel weak against the power of the enemy. 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 2 – The Lord the Avenger

The LORD is a jealous and avenging husband. – Nahum 1:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1-3 and Isaiah 54:1-5 There is an expression out there that perhaps you are familiar with: “There is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned.” Have you heard of it? You can now pipe up and say, “Actually, there is a fury that is greater than that!” Nahum, speaking on behalf of the LORD, explains why the LORD’s fury is infinitely greater. Several translations capture the reason for the great fury of the LORD – the key is the original language which names the LORD as an avenging husband. This makes sense. There are many places in the Bible where the LORD describes Himself as the husband to His people, His bride. You can read Ezekiel 23 or Hosea, yes, the whole book of Hosea which is a prophecy describing the way in which the people of God chase after idols and other gods that are no gods; therefore the LORD calls this whoring, adultery of the worst kind. You might object and say this was so long ago – I mean the prophet, Nahum, ministered more than 2500 years ago! True. The warning is still as fresh as the day it was delivered. The LORD is faithful in and to every generation. As He called His people to repentance with the words of Nahum, so He calls us, as His people, to be faithful to Him. In fact, Revelation depicts the marriage feast of the Lamb, Jesus Himself taking the Church as His bride (Revelation 19:6ff). What a glorious picture that is. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit of God to give you a deeper and fuller understanding of what it is to be the Bride of Christ and to be faithful to Him in all things; and for all of us, single or married, to encourage one another in faithful living which is devoted to the LORD our promise-keeping 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

Introduction to the month of September

Nahum is a book that is likely not too familiar for many readers. To be honest, I can’t recall ever preaching from this book. It is a regular practice of mine to read through the Bible each year, so this short, prophetic book is one I have read fairly frequently. When I was approached to prepare the devotions for the month of September, I immediately knew I wanted to explore this book. Through His prophet, Nahum, the LORD of all nations, is renewing His claim over the people of Nineveh. The LORD is calling His people to return to Himself, while there is yet time. He is calling for them to make a fresh start. About fifty to perhaps a hundred years before the time of the prophet Nahum, the prophet Jonah spoke to Nineveh. The people heard Jonah and repented. Now, so many years later, the LORD raised up another prophet to speak and warn this recalcitrant people. To me, September is a time for fresh starts. Students start the school year. Workers return to sharper focus of work after the refreshment of vacation times. It seems to me September is a time of new government initiatives and programs. In view of these things, it made sense to me to encourage you, the reader, to listen to the message of Nahum and consider making a fresh start in your walk with God. The Lord is jealous for His people “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God.” – Nahum 1:2 Scripture reading: Nahum 1:1-3 Suppose a momma sees her child walking towards danger. Momma will shout, slightly frightening the child, who had not perceived the danger. The words of warning are critically necessary so that the child can be kept from harm. Nahum is like that, broadcasting the shouted warning of God, the Compassionate, to a warrior people who are rushing headlong into destruction. A century earlier, the LORD had sent the prophet Jonah to Nineveh. That reluctant prophet did not want to share the mercies of God with a cruel nation that had conquered so much of the known world. Yet, at his five-word call to repentance, the whole nation, from the king on the throne to the lowest servant, put on sackcloth as a sign of humility and fasted, praying to God for His mercy. The nation of Nineveh has made a hard turn away from the LORD. She has returned to her sinful ways and is heading towards destruction that is complete and total. The LORD is described as “Jealous” because He is calling His people back to Himself—calling them away from their sinfulness. He longs for them and would rescue them. Dear reader, have you experienced the mercies of God in the past? Have you seen His great care and love poured out? Then these words are for you, today. God is jealous for your whole-hearted attention. In Christ, He made the way open to Himself. Hear this warning and turn to One Who is jealous for your whole heart and mind and strength. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Spirit of God to show you where you might be wandering from God, the Compassionate One, Who is jealous for your whole heart. Pray for renewed love and faithfulness to Him. 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

August 31 – The Bible ends with a menu

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! – Revelation 19:9a Scripture reading: Revelation 19:1-10 The Bible begins and ends with a menu. It concludes with the marriage supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church. The focus is on celebration: table, food, fellowship and joy of heaven. This message contrasts to the hopeless message of our world which says this life is all there is, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Believers, however, live in the firm hope of the crucified and risen Lord, Who will raise up His betrothed bride to join Him at the marriage supper. A great multitude first sings their “Alleluias!” For God’s judgment on the harlot (vv.1-5). This is followed by more “Alleluias!” The marriage of the Lamb has arrived (vv.6-9). His wife has made herself ready. He robes her in fine linen. The wedding song climaxes with a table. The first song in the Bible is a wedding song. When God, the Father, gave a bride to Adam, Adam sang a song. The Bible also ends with a wedding song. This hymn marks Christ’s victory over all His and our enemies. A celebration follows. In providing salvation from sin through His sacrifice on the cross, the Lamb earned an abundance all at His cost. At this table, fellowship with God, in Christ, will be full and complete: no more sin, no more crying, no more loneliness. He freely offers this table for all who call upon Him in faith. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! Suggestions for prayer In a world broken by sin, loneliness and despair, pray that Christ may give you the joy and song that comes with trusting in Him for salvation. Pray that God may use you to share with others the joy of fellowship, a table and song found only in Christ. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 30 – The bountiful Tree of Life

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:2 Scripture reading: Revelation 22 Set before us is a scene of paradise restored. The pure river of life and the tree of life remind us of the Garden of Eden. Here, however, is not a single tree of life, but a forest of Trees of Life lining each side of the river. The blessing, which Adam forfeited through his disobedient eating, is now restored! In between these two Trees of Life stands another tree, the cross of Christ. He hung on a tree, bearing the curse for man’s disobedience (Galatians 3:13), for our salvation. Irenaeus remarks that by means of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we were made debtors to God. By means of another tree, the cross, debts are forgiven. The cross of Christ is for all who believe in Christ, a tree of life. By Him, we gain free access to the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is continually producing. It “bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.” Its supply never ends for the overcomers (2:7) and for those who do His commandments (22:14). The leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. The message of the cross gives life to the nations, healing the wounds of sin, shame and misery to all who repent and believe. This tree of life is nourishing believers now. The fullness of salvation and abundant feasting in paradise is yet to come. In our daily cross-bearing, are the joys of this never-ending life to come, yours? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the joy of the promises He sets before us in Christ. Pray that the Lord may use this promise to bring us to trust Him and to inspire us to greater faithfulness; that we may live our lives in hope and with great expectation. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 29 – Eating from the Tree of Life

To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. – Revelation 2:7b Scripture reading: Revelation 2:1-7 What a rich, full promise, Christ gives to him who perseveres in faith to the end. “I will give to eat from the tree of life.” Christ praises this church for her works, labor and patience; yet He rebukes her for leaving her first love. He warns that if she does not repent, He will take away her lampstand. He then praises the church for her firm stand against the works of the Nicolaitans. It seems these false teachers, the Nicolaitans, were not staying away from the immoral and idolatrous feasts and were trying to tempt the members of the church with their sinful practices. To the one who is loyal to Christ and perseveres in his love for Him to the end, Christ promises to offer something better than food offered to idols. He will be given ”to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” After Adam’s sin, the way to the tree of life in the garden was cut off, its entrance guarded by the cherubim (Genesis 3:22-24). But in Christ and through the shedding of His blood on the cross for sinners, God opens the way into fellowship with Him again, forever. This Lord’s Day we have the privilege to fellowship with Him, in His garden, through Word, song, prayer and sacrament. To all who persevere by faith, Christ gives the promise to eat of the tree of life. This fellowship in God’s presence will be full, rich, complete and forever! Suggestions for prayer Pray that, this Lord’s Day, you may grow in the assurance of God’s love and that through faith, encouraged by His promises, you may joyfully persevere in your love for Him. Sing this song of assurance: “I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 28 – Sanctification, not sanitation

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in this world, do you subject yourselves to regulations --- “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” – Colossians 2:20,21 Scripture reading: Colossians 2:11-3:1 Our world, not having Christ, imposes its own holiness code on its citizens. So it is also with false religions that mandate their food laws and never-ending fasting rituals on their adherents. In the church of Colossae, false teachers were insisting on man-made, rigorous restrictions and regulations concerning food, drink, festivals, new moon and sabbaths. The apostle Paul summarizes their regulations in this way, “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.” It had an appearance of wisdom, of humility and of being near to God. They taught that one could overcome evil and achieve the fullness of salvation through man-made rules regarding eating, drinking and fasting.  The focus is on abstaining from this and from that. There is no joy; there is no feasting, only “Don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle.” The focus is on outward purity. Without Christ and His Spirit, the world imposes its own regulations concerning separation for well-being and holiness. We need Christ. Fullness of salvation is in Him! Renewal comes from within by His Spirit. By trusting Christ alone for your salvation, you have a reason for feasting. The apostle Paul says if you died with Christ (2:20) and were raised with Him (3:1), you have made a complete break from man-made regulations. “Let no one cheat you of your reward” (v.18). By His Spirit, He continues to cleanse you from sin and cultivates a desire to grow in holiness. This is sanctification. Welcome to real living. Touch, taste, handle! Sing, rejoice and live! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the full salvation and freedom He gives in Christ. Pray for renewal and growth in your love, holiness and obedience to Christ the Saviour and Lord. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 27 – Eating and drinking to God’s glory

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 Like the church in Corinth, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ today lives and works among neighbors, friends and even family members who worship false gods or idols in temples. They have their meat shops in the market places. But also, out of love and respect, they will invite Christian friends to their homes for dinner. The wise approach as followers of Jesus, in either scenario, is not to ask questions. “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake….” (v.25). Likewise, at the table in his home, you are free to eat whatever he serves you. Don’t ask where it comes from. “But if anyone says to you, ‘this was offered to idols,’ do not eat it” (v.28). If the host is saying this, do not eat. You must not jeopardize your witness to Christ. But if it seems that the weaker brother or sister in Christ, one sitting at the table with you, is saying this, even then you should not eat. You must not exercise your Christian freedom in a manner that causes a fellow believer to sin. Your freedom may be lawful, but not helpful. Use your freedom in Christ in a loving way. Exercise your freedom in a way that will build up fellow believers in their faith. What you eat does not matter, but avoiding offence does. In this way, we are eating or drinking to the glory of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may exercise our freedom in Christ in a way that does not harm the faith of the weaker believer. Pray that we not jeopardize our witness and yet show love for those who do not know Christ. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 26 – One table or the other, not both

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. – 1 Corinthians 10:21 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 32:15-18; 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Corinth was a religiously diverse city. In the congregation of Corinth, there were members who came out of idol-worshipping families. They were brought to faith in Christ, but many of their extended family members were still worshipping false gods. The temptation is real for new believers to participate in the idol feasts. Their new commitment to Jesus is often challenged by family and friends who want them to participate in their temple feasts. In their relationships with friends and family, Christians are not to compromise their commitment to Jesus. This also means not participating in idol feasts. By participating, one identifies himself with idols and demons. Christians must not participate in the Lord’s Table and in the table of demons. True, an idol is not real; it is not a god at all. But demons are real. Those who worship idols have fellowship with demons. By faith, you belong to Christ and to a new family. He does not want half of you. He wants the whole of you because He gave Himself for you. You would not want to make God jealous, would you? Peter Leithart writes, “History is God’s work of rescuing His bride from the table of demons to bring us to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” At the Lord’s Table, we share in proclaiming our faith in Christ Who shed His blood for our sins. By eating the bread, we share in the body of Christ. In Christ, we are united to Him and to one another. Suggestions for prayer Perhaps you struggle with participating in both the Lord’s Supper and idol feasts. Pray for God’s grace and courage. He gives to those who ask! Pray for those you know who struggle with this. Ask the Lord for wisdom to encourage your brother or sister in Christ. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 25 – Equally accepted by God

...for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. – Galatians 2:12 Scripture reading: Galatians 2:1-16 Antioch was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. It consisted of many nationalities and religions. Antioch was one of the first places where the good news of Jesus was preached to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. Many Gentiles from different backgrounds believed in Jesus. The new believers formed a church which became the base for the apostle Paul’s missionary travels. In one situation, the apostle Paul resisted the apostle Peter to his face. Why? Because Peter, by his actions, left the impression of a two-tiered membership in the church. There were the noble Jews who believed in Jesus, and then... Well... There were the others who believed in Jesus. Peter had enjoyed fellowship with the Gentiles and ate with them. But when a group of Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Antioch, Peter withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles, for fear of what the Jews would say. The rest of the Jews started playing along with Peter in his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, Paul’s helper, was carried away by the lie. The apostle Paul sets Peter straight with the truth of the gospel. Men and women, no matter the background, are justified by faith in Christ. All who believe are fully accepted by God and are accepted equally. At God’s table, He removes all ethnic and social barriers in our fellowship in Christ. Is this so in our fellowship and at our tables? Are we living by the truth of the gospel? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for how He continues to gather His church out of all nations. Pray that God will remove residual pride we may have because of our social rank or birth. May God help us to express this in our fellowship with one another. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 24 – Joy overflowing from tables to tables

So continuing daily in one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. – Acts 2:46 Scripture reading: Acts 2:22-47 Union with Christ, in His death and resurrection, manifests itself in the joy of the forgiveness of sins and the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This joy of belonging to Jesus is expressed here in verse 42 by ‘continuing steadfastly’, joining with other believers in hearing and learning God’s Word together, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in praying together. “In the breaking of bread together” indicates believers continued steadfastly in the sharing of meals, including the Lord’s Supper. Imagine the thrill of partaking of the Lord’s Supper which Christ had instituted about two months before. Do we experience this joy when we come to the Lord’s Table? Verse 46 also indicates that the joy in Jesus overflows from the Lord’s Table to the tables in the homes of fellow believers. In sharing their meals together, “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” The joy of forgiveness overflows in the sharing of goods, but also of the table. What an attractive reflection of God’s rich hospitality toward us in Christ! In our sad and joyless world, this joy is winsome. Take note of verse 47, “and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The ascended Christ summons us to join the feast! He gives the joy of forgiveness and of His Holy Spirit to all who believe. God promises that the “parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water…” (Isaiah 35:7a). Suggestions for prayer If you belong to the body of believers, thank the Lord for adding you to His body. Pray for courage to encourage others who say they believe but are not members of the body of Christ. Pray that this joy of belonging may manifest itself practically in our lives. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 23 – Word, table and mission

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him... – Luke 24:30,31 Scripture reading: Luke 24:13-35 Two disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus. They think Jesus, having been crucified, is dead. While walking, the risen Lord Jesus joins them. “But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (v.16). They reminisce about Jesus and their hopes that He was going to redeem Israel. Their hopes are dashed. All along, they are thinking the One walking with them is a stranger. How can Jesus break through this blindness? Jesus leads them through a Bible study. “...He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 27). The whole Bible speaks of Him. Only He can open our eyes to see Him and His glory. That evening, Jesus sits at the table with them. He breaks bread and gives it to them. Suddenly they come to know who He is. “He was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (v.35). At the beginning of history, man fell into sin by eating from the forbidden tree. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, ‘the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7). Here, the risen Lord Jesus breaks bread with the two disciples, “and their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (v.31). Jesus’ resurrection marks a new creation. By His Spirit, Christ uses his Word to open our eyes; He restores the table, and He sends us out on a mission to declare, “The Lord is risen indeed!” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your pastor as He brings the word of the risen Lord Jesus. Pray that many may come to know Jesus through His Word. Let us pray that, with the gift of the Word and Bread, our hearts may burn within us and share His work in our lives. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 22 – A forward-looking supper

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. – Matthew 26:29 Scripture reading: Matthew 26:17-30 The word ‘meal’ or ‘supper’ suggests celebration. People come together. Feasting, like singing, is a unique mark of God’s covenant people, those who belong to Jesus. In the Old Testament, this was the Passover meal, a meal celebrating God’s deliverance through the sacrificial lambs. It was a forward-looking meal. The Passover meal pointed ahead to Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb Who delivers His people from their sins through His sacrifice. The tokens are bread and wine by which the New Testament church proclaims Christ’s death till He comes. It’s fuller. It’s richer. This supper, this meal of remembrance, is like a wedding ring. A husband sees the ring which he has given his wife and his love goes out to her. And when she looks at the ring, she opens her heart to receive his love. This is what Jesus does when we sit at His supper. His love reaches out to us and we receive His love. We remember Jesus’ suffering and death for us on the cross, but this supper is also a victory-meal. He conquered sin, death and hell. And now through this feast, He, by His Spirit, also strengthens us to conquer sin and temptation. This supper is also forward-looking. We eagerly anticipate the feast in the consummation, when all who belong to Him by faith will have perfect fellowship with Jesus for all eternity. Peace shall follow battle. Night shall end in day. May these comforting words again be a blessing to you on this Lord’s Day. Suggestions for prayer Pray that our fellowship around the Lord’s Word and Table may be a feast of anticipation in which we look forward to the fellowship we will one day enjoy with Him. Thank God that He strengthens us for battle and renews our faith to live for Him. Suggested song: “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 21 – Still there is room

...and still there is room. – Luke 14:22b Scripture reading: Luke 14:15-24 A guest sitting with Jesus in the Pharisee’s home, exclaims, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus responds with a parable about a certain man who gave a great supper and invited many. Those invited were God’s people, the Jews. Through the prophets of the Old Testament, they received this glorious invitation. With the coming of Christ, the feast has come! The master sends his servant out saying to the invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.” But all gave lame excuses for why they could not come. Being upset, he now sends his servant into the streets and lanes of the city, saying “Bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” They were the outcasts and underprivileged among the Jews who were coming to Jesus. Bring them in; that is, take them by the hand. Why? Because they might have serious doubts. Could the banquet table really be for them? Still there is room. God wants His house filled. The master then sends his servant outside the city, “into the highways and hedges”, compelling them to come into the banquet, God’s kingdom. These are the Gentiles; that is, outsiders and strangers. Nothing is said about the servant completing his commission. Why? Because this commission to Christ’s church continues today. Still there is room. Have you responded to Christ’s summons to come? Or is some excuse stopping you? How is God using you to fill up His festal house? Suggestions for prayer Pray for those you know who are making excuses for not coming to Christ. Pray that the love of Christ may compel you to compel others to come to Christ and that they may be drawn by His love in His people. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 20 – Table etiquette for Jesus’ followers

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. – Luke 14:11 Scripture reading: Luke 14:1-14 Jesus enjoyed His food and wine, but most of all He enjoyed the fellowship of other people around the dinner table. Table fellowship was vital to Jesus’ ministry. In our passage, Jesus is eating at the home of a Pharisee. Many guests are present. In this parable, Jesus teaches us how to be guests (verses 7-11) and how to be a host (verses 12-14). He teaches us how to receive and give hospitality. God’s grace humbles us. What does that look like? It’s the opposite of what we see in our reading. The guests at the feast love honour and the host honours those who invite him back. This pattern is often seen in table fellowship. This is not the way of God’s grace. Jesus says that when you are invited as a guest, don’t look for a place of honour. Don’t vie for position or put yourself forward. Be a willing servant. As a guest, honour others above yourself. Likewise, to the host who invited Him, Jesus says, ‘Don’t just invite those who invite you back.’ You should not think of hospitality in this kind of calculating way. Our hospitality should reflect God’s generous hospitality toward us. We can never repay Him! What is the way of God’s grace and blessing? “Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.” Invite to your table outcasts and strangers who can never repay you. Does God’s grace humble you to serve Christ in this new way? He shall reward you at the resurrection! Suggestions for prayer Ask God for grace to fight against our pride and to shape us to be more like Christ. Pray for grace to be hospitable and to show hospitality to one another with a servant-like attitude. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. ...

Daily devotional

August 19 – Eating and being filled

So they all ate and were filled. – Mark 6:42 Scripture reading: Mark 6:30-44 God’s people are in bondage to their sins. Here we witness a large exodus of people from the cities to the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. They now enter into the wilderness. Jesus is the new Moses who leads them out of Egypt to Himself in a wilderness area. This is a new Exodus. As Shepherd, Jesus is moved with compassion so He teaches them (vv.30-34) and feeds them (vv.35-43). They need guidance. Their teachers have not been teaching them the Word nor pointing them to Jesus. The people have become confused and so lost. Jesus confirms His teaching with a miraculous sign of multiplying the five loaves of bread and two fish. This is not just about filling their bellies. This sign points to Himself, the Bread of Life. He is the Bread from Heaven, the Provision of life to Whom the manna in the wilderness pointed. Eat the food He provides and you will be filled. Jesus fully satisfies. He feeds thousands and there is no want. By His Word, He transforms our desert into a place of life and refreshment. Praise God for the presence and power of His Spirit. He promises a fuller and even greater feast to come in the Promised Land. The disciples gather twelve baskets, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel and the church, under the care of one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is the proof of God’s love. Are you dealing with anxiety, depression or fear? Turn to Christ. He is the Bread of Life. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for giving us a Shepherd Who truly cares and loves, Who gave His life for us. Pray that, in all our anxieties and fears, we may learn to put our trust in Christ Who is the Bread of Life. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 18 – Jesus calls and heals for the feast

How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners? – Mark 2:16b Scripture reading: Mark 2:13-22 Tax collectors were a hated and despised group of people. They served the Romans to collect taxes from the Jews. Many were cheaters and often very belligerent. It is said that if a Jew saw a tax collector, he would spit on the ground and turn his head. They were expelled from the synagogue and were a cause of disgrace to their family. As Jesus walks along the shore of Galilee, He sees Levi, the tax collector, that hated individual sitting in his booth. Jesus turns to him in order to make him one of His disciples calling, “Follow Me!” Immediately Levi leaves everything behind, gets up and follows Jesus. There is no man happier than Levi. He throws a feast in honor of Jesus in his own home. Many of his associates, tax collectors and sinners, join the feast with Jesus in Levi’s home. Levi wanted them to know, trust and love this wonderful Saviour and Lord Who found him. He is the Physician Who forgives and heals. The scribes and Pharisees, the hair-splitting legalists, find Jesus’ activity questionable. “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus eats with sinners because He came to forgive them their sins. Today, in the church, Jesus continues to fellowship with forgiven sinners. What a privilege to eat and drink at His table. Who gets to sit around your dinner table so that you can share the love of our wonderful Saviour Who found you to feast with Him? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His hospitality toward us in Christ, forgiving us and receiving us in His house. Pray that Jesus’ love for sinners may change us to love those we naturally despise and that He may open our hearts to them and eat with them. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 17 – The Bridegroom has come!

And Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” – John 2:7-8 Scripture reading: John 2:1-11 Jesus honors marriage. He shows this by attending the wedding in Cana of Galilee. But at this wedding, He also performs His first sign and manifests His glory. He is the Bridegroom who has come to wed His sinful people. He shows this by bringing out their real need. The guests run out of wine at the wedding feast. In response to Mary’s concern, Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” What does having no wine have to do with Jesus’ hour having not yet come? His hour points to His atoning death on the cross for sinners. He is more than just Mary’s son. He is the Son. The Father sent Him to reconcile sinners to God through His sacrifice on the cross. Feasting and joy follow! Six pots, filled to the brim with water are changed to wine. This shows the fullness He brings. The Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ, to the brim. He fills to the full. He is the fulfillment, the seventh! The age of wine has come; the feasting, the joy of forgiveness of our sins in Christ and the fellowship with God through His suffering and death for all who trust in Him. As with Jesus’ disciples, may we see beyond the sign itself and see Him, His glory and believe. By trusting in Christ, this eternal joy is yours. The Bridegroom has come, the feast has begun, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9)! Suggestions for prayer Thank God, that in Christ, He cleanses you, adopts you and clothes you as His bride. Pray that in your daily struggle against sin and in your trials, you may not lose focus on Jesus, the wine of the kingdom. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 16 – Eat what is good

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. – Isaiah 55:2b Scripture reading: Proverbs 9:1-6; Isaiah 55:1-7  We are told by our physicians to "eat what is good." We say the same to our children, “Now, listen, eat what is good. Stay healthy.” The LORD, the physician of our souls, exhorts us, “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good…” What is good food and drink? The water, wine, milk and bread He freely offers. Come to the waters! Come, buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money, without price. It’s a compelling call to accept, by faith, the salvation He offers you in Christ. Don’t delay. His call is urgent if you want to live. Come! It’s free. Jesus paid the price for this food by shedding His blood on the cross for sins. Now He freely offers this food as a gift. He truly satisfies. Consider a life outside of Christ. You spend your money and expend your labor, but none of it truly satisfies. It’s "no-bread" at all. Your life is not full but empty. You toil and labor and you do not eat what is good. Rest in Christ who toiled and labored for the food He freely offers. It begins with listening to Him, to His Word. Put away your sinful and toilsome ways. Come, believe. Then you will eat what is good. Indeed, “Let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This is the secret to a spiritually healthy life. Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord may bless you by giving you a greater thirst for Christ and for eating what is good. Ask that your delight may be in the abundance He offers and to bring the required changes in your life to feast on Him. Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 15 – The Lord’s banquet for all people

And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wine on the lees... – Isaiah 25:6a  Scripture reading: Isaiah 25 In this song of praise, the prophet Isaiah lifts up the glory and attributes of the LORD, our Redeemer. He praises Him for the salvation of His people and judgment of His enemies. The mountain of the Lord is Jerusalem, His people, the church. In verses 6-8, we hear the Lord’s promise to His people whom He saves from their sin, disgrace and reproach. In His grace, the LORD of hosts will reign among His people. She will be the place of the LORD’S banquet for all people. The feast consists of the best and choice food and drink. The LORD will remove the covering, the veil on the nations. This veil of sorrow is sin, misery and ultimately death. But He will swallow death. Then there is no longer cause for sorrow and mourning. By dying on the cross for sinners and rising from the dead, Christ swallowed up death in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54)! Jesus is the banquet for all people who trust in Him. From Him, the blessing of new life flows to all people. God’s promise is fulfilled in Christ today by His Spirit. God’s people look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus again when the promises will be fully realized. Death is swallowed up “and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). The Lord blesses us to be a blessing to all people. May you enjoy again, this Lord’s Day, the banquet in His house, His house for all nations. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you a heart to enjoy the banquet in His house this day. Pray that He may encourage you as you worship Him, hear His Word and fellowship with other believers. Sing Psalm 23, “The Lord’s My Shepherd.” Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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