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Daily devotional

April 7 – Christ’s saving reign

“All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” - Psalm 22:27 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:27-29 As we approach the end of this Psalm, we see what a glorious ending it is. How glorious it is to reflect on the realities of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. We read in verse 27 that God will gather to Himself, in Christ, a people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation  5:9). Not only this, but Christ, in being raised, has overcome the entire world (John 16:33). As we see in verse 28, the LORD’s reign is over all the nations. Everyone is under His dominion, however not all will be saved. Yet, the saving reign of Christ extends not only to all the ends of the earth, but also to the rich, the poor and the dying. When we consider the death and resurrection of Christ, we should be in awe and wonder at not only the sufficiency and effectiveness of Christ to save, but also the extent to which Christ’s salvation is spread. It is not limited to one family or one group of people, but as was promised to Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would continue to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and that He would be pleased to use us for that end. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 6 – Never forgotten

“For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.” – Psalm 22:24 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22-26 Left to ourselves, we are poor. We are spiritually bankrupt. “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is our most dire problem. However, to add insult to injury, we also suffer great pain as we go through this life as the result of sin. Whether that is the loss of a loved one, broken relationships, physical poverty, or the stresses of the unknown future, we all suffer the effects of this broken world. I hope we see the enormity of the problems that we face. We are completely broken and impoverished as we live in a world that is suffering under the weight of the curse. Yet, as verse 26 says, we are never without a sure and secure hope, for because Christ is risen, we who are poor in our sins are fed and satisfied. Even though we suffer in this life with the effects of sin and the curse, we are never forgotten nor left alone. God will always hear us, answer us and deliver us as verse 24 says. Whatever our affliction, no matter how poor we are in any way, we have reason to rejoice for Christ died and is risen! Praise the Lord for His complete deliverance which He gives to us. The last phrase in verse 26 is often translated as a wish. “Let (or may) your heart live forever!”  However, it is to be translated with much more surety than that. This is your sure hope, “Your heart shall live forever.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would continue to open your eyes to the brokenness in your own sinful heart, as well as the brokenness in the world. Pray that He would open your eyes to the wonderful, powerful and eternal salvation provided in Christ. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 5 – Christ the choirmaster

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” – Psalm 22:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22 Yesterday, as we considered the resurrection of Christ and that the Father answered Christ’s prayer in raising Him from the dead, we saw that rejoicing with praise is the only proper response we could have. The words of the second half of this Psalm lead us there. But now I want to consider just verse 22 in the light of Hebrews 2:12. In Hebrews 2, the author quotes Psalm 22:22 and says that this verse applies directly, not just to us as we might expect, but also to Christ Himself. The author of Hebrews is making the point that Christ is our Elder Brother and  He will declare the name of the Father to us, singing with us, in the midst of the assembly the glories of the Father. I wonder if we think about this glorious truth that the author of Hebrews is making known to us as he quotes Psalm 22 when we sing in church?  When we sing, and especially when we sing in the context of corporate worship, we are not just joining with saints below and saints above as well as all the angelic hosts, we are joining with Christ, the great Choirmaster as He personally leads us in the singing of the praises of God. Next time you are in church, I encourage you to think about this while you are singing. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as you sing, you do not simply say the words, or just enjoy the music, but ask for forgiveness when you do. Ask God to remind you as you sing that you are joining with all the saints, angelic beings and chiefly with Christ in singing the praises of God. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 4 – He is risen indeed!

“You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will praise You.” - Psalm 22:21c-22 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:21-31 He is risen! He is risen indeed!  Having walked thus far through this Psalm and the account of our Saviour’s suffering, dying and His body being laid in the tomb, the words of verse 21 should vault us into great rejoicing, just as Mary Magdalene did when she saw Jesus on Easter morning. Read those wonderful words again, “You have answered Me.”  On Easter morning, the Father certainly did answer the prayer of Christ upon the cross. The Father raised Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is no wonder that verses 22 and following are full of praise and rejoicing. Certainly that Easter morning Christ was rejoicing, all of heaven was rejoicing, and though the disciples were slow to understand and believe, they eventually got there too. And so as we read this passage, we too should want to proclaim and sing the glories of our God. Christ is risen, brothers and sisters! Rejoice and sing: “Sin’s bonds severed, we’re delivered, Christ has bruised the serpent’s head; Death no longer is the stronger, Hell itself is captive led. Christ has risen from death’s prison, O’er the tomb He light has shed” (Praise the Saviour, Now and Ever: stanza 3).” Our prayers for salvation are assuredly answered because of that Easter morning. “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him (Christ); But when He (Christ) cried to Him (The Father), He heard” (verse 24). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would fill you with joy in knowing that just as the Father answered the prayer of Christ, so our every prayer will be heard and answered. As you pray for forgiveness from your sins, for a clean heart, to be remade in the image of Christ and to be granted eternal life, you will be heard and answered for He is risen! Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 3 – Wait on the Lord

“But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me, O My Strength, hasten to help Me!” - Psalm 22:19 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:19-21b While originally these two verses were certainly a cry of David, this was also a cry of Christ upon the cross. On this day, between Christ’s death and His resurrection, we remember the prayer of our Saviour upon the cross. When Jesus cried to His Father, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?,” we see the perfect faith that Christ had, even as He suffered under the wrath of God for our sin, for Christ had to wait on His Heavenly Father. Christ had to endure dying on the cross, and even though His human soul was in heaven, He had to wait until Sunday. We maybe look at this and say, “Well, Christ only had to wait three days!  My suffering has gone on for years!” Let us remember two things: first, that Christ suffered more than we know during His entire life on this earth, and second, in the grand scheme of eternity, what is the real difference between three days and 80 years?. Dear Christian, think about this. Even our Savior had to wait upon His Father to be delivered from death and be victorious over it. Even He experienced what it was like to be a disembodied soul. Therefore, our Savior can perfectly sympathize with us in every valley, even death itself. Yet, He was raised in the speediness of three days for our comfort and benefit, as we will celebrate tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would remind us of the patience of Christ, waiting to be delivered. Remember that we have a sympathetic High Priest in every single trial we face, but also the sure comfort of Christ’s resurrection. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 2 – See the love of your Savior

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.” - Psalm 22:16-17 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-18 Today we remember the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Psalm 22, David gives us the prophetic words of the suffering of our Lord on the cross. This is the Psalm that Jesus quotes while on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The New Testament writers also use this Psalm to show how Christ’s death perfectly fulfills this prophecy. I encourage you to read the words of the first 18 verses of this psalm slowly. Let each phrase fall upon you like a hammer blow and resound like a church bell. Christ suffered in a way that is completely incomprehensible to us. The descriptions of the physical suffering of Christ in this Psalm and in the Gospels are horrendous enough, but nothing compared to what He suffered in His soul. On that cross, He suffered an eternities’ worth of hell for every sin of every saint. We cannot comprehend or understand what it means to suffer for one sin in that way. Today is called Good Friday because, for us who believe upon Christ, we will never have to experience any of God’s wrath against our sin. We experience His discipline and displeasure at our sin, sure, but never His wrath. See, brothers and sisters! See the love of your Savior, today and every day, as you think upon His willingness to go to the cross for you and suffer as He did. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to our Lord Jesus for willingly going to the cross to die in our place. Give thanks that He was willing to suffer and be rejected by God that we might forever be received by Him. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

April 1 – Introduction to our study of Psalms 22-24

Hello, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we are going to be considering three psalms. I would say three very important psalms, but then again all of the psalms are important!  In the month of April, we are going to be celebrating Good Friday and Easter and one of the psalms we are going to consider speaks to both of these redemptive events. One of the other psalms speaks to the event covered last month, the Triumphal Entry, and another event that we won’t get to in this month, the Ascension. The third psalm we will consider is probably the most well-known psalm of recent decades. Wonder what these three important psalms are?  Psalm 22, 23 and 24. These three psalms form a triplet. Many of the psalms are grouped together, for example, Psalms 1 and 2 are a couplet that forms the introduction to the Psalter. Psalms 146-150 form a quadruplet of grand doxology at the end of the Psalter. Looking at Psalm 22, you notice right away that this psalm prophesies the crucifixion of Jesus. It also anticipates and prophesies Christ’s resurrection. Psalm 24, on the other hand, anticipates the Triumphal entry, but ultimately, it draws our attention to the Ascension of Jesus as well as His final coming. Then, nestled between these two great pillars of Psalms, speaking of the redemptive work of the Messiah, is Psalm 23. Psalm 23 speaks to the Christian in the “right here and right now”. I have heard it said that Psalm 23 is overused. I couldn’t disagree more! It is a psalm that speaks to Christians where we are right now in redemptive history because of the death, resurrection, ascension and anticipated final coming of Christ Jesus. Therefore, not only do these psalms speak powerfully of the salvation we have in Christ and comfort we now have in Him, but these psalms are also inspired words to be used by us to glorify our Triune God for the great things that He has done. God’s wise plan “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me? And from the words of My groaning?” – Psalm 22:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-8 Today is the day in which we remember the Last Supper, the recounting of Jesus praying and His subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It also happens to be April Fool’s Day, a day in which a lot of good-natured fun can be had playing pranks on those we love. Today, I want us to take this secular day literally for a second because we also see something very clearly in our culture. When the world looks at what Jesus is about to do, it looks foolish to them. As we think of the Garden of Gethsemane, question why Jesus would willingly give Himself up?  He could have easily gotten away before Judas found Him. Why would Jesus willingly give Himself to be crucified on a cross? Then, turning the attention to Christians, why would they believe that Jesus dying on the cross would atone for their sins?  All of this looks like foolishness to the world. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24, “But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  As we focus our attention on Christ’s sacrificial death tomorrow, have we considered it to be Divinely wise?  Do we see this as the most perfect and beautiful plan that could ever be devised for our lives and our salvation? Suggestions for prayer Let us ask the Lord to help us to see just how wise the plan of salvation is that Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Pray that the Lord would give us boldness to proclaim this salvation to a world that sees it as foolishness. Rev. James Roosma has been serving at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC for six years. He and his wife Jeni have been blessed with two children, Elijah and Tabitha, and have one on the way. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 31 – God’s judgment day

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 5:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:14 At the end of Ecclesiastes, we come face to face with God’s end-time judgment. It is the conclusion we want to hear after hearing that life is a vapor uncontrollable by us. Fearing God and walking in obedience is man’s core purpose. Thus, we are glad God is the judge. There is comfort in God’s judgment. Why? First, our sins were judged by God in Jesus Christ. They are forgiven so now as Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24). Christ has delivered us from the judgment of God in taking that judgment for us. Second, we see the comfort of the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. For those in Christ, it will be a public declaration of sins forgiven and a time where our deeds of faith will be rewarded. Of course, those works are His works in us, but He gives us the rewards. Thirdly, there is the comfort that the wicked unrepentant sinner will be judged. God is just. It will not be well with the wicked. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is that life is a vapor, but that God keeps life a mystery to us and brings us what He wills, so that we might receive His grace and that in grace, we trust in and live by His Word through life, unto eternity. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would keep us in the church to hear His Word so we will remember He is our God Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 30 – The conclusion of the whole matter: keep God’s commandments

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13b The new life Christians live in the Holy Spirit is the life of the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Ecclesiastes reminds us of this in v.13, “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Fearing God and keeping His commandments go hand in hand. Faith in the Lord leads to love for the Lord and love for the Lord leads to obedience (1 John 5:3; John 14:15, 21). Fearing God includes loving God. One key purpose of Jesus’ salvation work is that we would be saved to obey Him forever (Romans 14:9). Because Christ is our Saviour, He tells us the first and second commandment is our righteousness so that God’s law is fulfilled in us. We are also now learning obedience, and being transformed into the image of Christ, Who is our obedience. Which commands do we obey in the Lord? The commands given in Ecclesiastes to enjoy life in God’s name and trust in God. The other commandments include God’s law written on our hearts by the Spirit (Hebrews 10:16) and the fruits of the Spirit. Suggestion for prayer Ask God to help you love Him more and more every day. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 29 – The conclusion of the whole matter: fear God

“Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:13a Ecclesiastes 12:13 commands God’s children to fear God (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12). What does it mean? It does not mean we have to be frightened before God, though He is awesome, all-powerful, breath-taking and makes us often tremble. It does not mean He is cruel. No one ever is afraid of God because He is cruel! Fearing God first of all means having faith in and love for Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Why? Because God has given us Jesus, and He calls us to trust in Him. Christ is our justification, sanctification, redemption and our wisdom. And to fear God is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning and everlasting life with His wisdom, Jesus Christ. Secondly, fearing God means taking God seriously. When it is put this way people have images of God knowing everything about you, of God sending down fire on Sodom, of God on Mt. Sinai in the fire and smoke, of His holiness and terrible judgment on evil, and of His unconquerable control. Are these things true? Yes, absolutely true and we should take them seriously and reverence God. But there is this too. Fearing God is taking God’s grace and gifts in life just as seriously. Fearing God is believing He loves you and has given you Himself in Christ and the Holy Spirit. We are not righteous and we are not God. So we need God’s mercy and guidance and He gave and gives it to us in Christ by the Spirit. Suggestion for prayer Pray for the grace of fearing God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 28 – The conclusion of the whole matter

"Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."  – Romans 10:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-13 We are now in the last section in Ecclesiastes. Verse 11 tells us these words are from Christ, the One Shepherd. Our Lord put it plainly, “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep.” Well, in Ecclesiastes, Jesus is leading His flock with His truth. Jesus brings us to chapter 12:13-14. Notice the first phrase in v.13. The idea here is, “Now that you’ve heard God’s Word, this is the final result of the matter.” We are not able to figure everything out in life, but there are hope and joy. However, it is not about figuring out everything in life because life is vanity, uncontrollable by us. Biblical wisdom includes an honest acknowledgment that life in this world is often a mystery to us. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 is a call for faith in God! We have heard God’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Yet, God in love brings us to this conclusion: we need God, so the final grand result of the matter is “fear God, and keep His commandments…for God will bring everything into judgment.”Fearing God and keeping His commandments are actions of faith for the Christian. We will explore these actions in the next two days. Suggestion for prayer Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Pray God helps you understand His Word. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 27 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” – Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We are to remember our Creator, to live by faith in Him! Solomon applies this call in three ways. First, live by faith in Him when you are young and throughout your life, because one day you will die (v.1, 6a). God, through Solomon, uses a poem to show us this. One day the silver cord is snapped. Second, live by faith in Him now because when you die your body turns to dust and your soul meets God (v.6b-8). Third, and the main point, live by faith because life is a vapor. All of life is controlled by God, so trust God and enjoy life. Do you like to read? Read with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like sports? Play with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. Do you like to worship on Sunday? Worship with joy in God’s name, one day you will not be able to. In other words, keep God in mind all the time. Remember what He has done for you, given to you, and promised you. Have faith in the Lord when you are young, in days of trouble, when the sun shines and when it is dark before the golden bowl is broken. Life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him. The gospel of Jesus, which God has given, is the way for us to have joy and faith. Suggestion for prayer Disparaging and worrying about circumstances in life is not wise. Pray God will give you the Holy Spirit’s fruit of peace and joy. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 26 – The call to faith

“To bring about the obedience of faith.” - Romans 1:5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 We have learned about God’s call to be joyful as we live in the fear of the Lord. In our text today, God calls us to live by faith too. God calls us to live by faith in Christ for salvation, but here, as God’s covenant people, He calls us to live by faith because life is vanity. But what does this mean? Vanity in Ecclesiastes does not mean meaninglessness. Life might seem meaningless, but it is not. Even the wicked are for the Day of Judgment. In this book “vanity” also does not mean emptiness. Life is not empty, though it might feel empty. Vanity in Ecclesiastes means life can seem empty and uncontrollable because it is uncontrollable by us. From our point of view, it seems that sometimes life is running away from us, or that all our work has brought nothing, or that trying our best is hopeless because we get it wrong anyway. We know life is a vapor; it appears for a little while and then it is gone. The whole point of Ecclesiastes is that we are not in control of our life, God is. All that comes is beyond our control; God has the whole world in His hands (Romans 8:28). Therefore, we are to remember our Creator all our days, living by faith in Him, trusting His Word. Jesus came to save us and bring us to the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 15:18), and this includes remembering God and His Word every day of our lives. Suggestion for prayer Pray God would help you seek first His Kingdom. Life is short, but it is a gift from God to be lived for Him. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 25 - The call of joy

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:10 Our reading today is a call for young people to live in joy. Of course, we can apply it to all Christians. This verse is the Philippians 4:6 of the Old Testament. We could paraphrase verse 10 this way, “Soon you will turn to dust, so while you are able, get rid of vexation, anxiety, worry and anger.” When we are vexed, worried, or angry it’s because we don’t like the harsh realities of life under the sun. We are frustrated because we cannot control our life. Here, Christian, God directs us to banish all anxiety by faith in God. Be joyful for all that is in front of you. Relax and have some chips and dip. The Lord is in control (Matthew 6:25-34). So here we have this great charter of joy! All of us throughout our life are called to live a youthful joy. Now there are times we are called to mourn. See verse 8. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of mirth (Ecclesiastes 7:4). But the idea here is to enjoy the life God has given, even though mourning is part of it. Of course “youth and the dawn of life” do have their vanity. The time of youth, as well as old age, can be empty and transitory when lived in sinful lusts. But when we fear God and believe in God’s Son, we are enabled to enjoy life as we live by faith. Suggestion for prayer The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Ask God to teach you joy in every situation. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 24 – Having joy in your youth (Part 2)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:9 There are three great truths in verse 9. First, choose cheer when you are young! Be thankful for your parents, for your bike and the way you look. God’s word puts it this way because God knows how easy it is for you not to be happy. Life is not meant to be lived complaining. It is too short not to be joyful. Second, God says follow your heart and your eyes. WOW. Is this promoting the idea that if you feel like it, just do it, whatever it may be? Or if you see it and want it, get that credit card out? No! God throughout Ecclesiastes shows how wicked that mindset is. So, what does this mean? Well, think of the overarching message of the Bible, the story of God setting us free in Jesus Christ to enjoy life. Jesus gives life more abundantly than sin or Satan ever can. Yes, there are some things we cannot do. We cannot do the opposite of what the Spirit has written on our hearts, or offend people, or grieve Holy Spirit, but creation is left wide open for us to enjoy and do to the glory of God. Third, remember God’s judgment. (v.9b) Enjoying life does not mean leaving God behind and enjoying sin and pride. That is a lie of Satan. Enjoying life is following God and enjoying His way and this includes remembering God’s judgment. Living life for God means remembering 11:9b and 12:13 in the context of Christ. In Christ, we can be forgiven. Suggestion for prayer Confess your sin to God, and ask Him to help you do all you do to the glory of God. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 23 – Having joy in your youth (Part 1)

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” - 1 John 2:14 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 In chapter 11:7-10, Solomon highlights the command to live in joy by repeating that life without God is “vanity, vanity.”(v.8b; v.10b). However, living in God’s grace and the fear of God brings a life of joy. Solomon has taught us that living wisely in the fear of God means living in joy. At the conclusion of each of the previous sections in Ecclesiastes, joy has been commanded and God calls us to joy at the end as well. First, Solomon affirms life in all its fullness in v.7. Light is a metaphor for being alive. The living are in the light of the sun, so enjoy them all your years. Of course, how long you will live, the success of your work, how many children you have, what illness will take your life, and all aspects of your future are out of your control, so be joyful while you are young for many dark days will come when you are older (v.8-9). Second, Solomon affirms that the young should live in joy. Verse 9 startles us. Is Solomon being ironic or is he giving a wise principle? The context shows he is giving us a wise principle. Matthew Poole put it this way. “This is serious advice to this purpose: seeing life is short and transitory, improve it to the best advantage, take comfort in it whilst you may, only do it with moderation, and the fear of God.” When we are young we should fear God and live cheerfully. Suggestion for prayer Rejoice in the covenant God has made with our children. Pray they would fear God and enjoy all He gives to them. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 22 – Remember the overarching message of Ecclesiastes

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all.” - Psalm 104:24 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; 11:7-10 To rightly understand the light, joy, freedom, and the “walking in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes” described in Ecclesiastes 11:7-10, we must first remind ourselves of the overarching message of Ecclesiastes. We should not think the evil in this world is this world. Creation and life are God’s gifts and He has come to forgive us our sin to free us to live for Him in this world and enjoy this world. Ecclesiastes points this out over and over again. Solomon sings the praises of work, wife, feasting, drinking wine, generosity, funerals and births. As well in our passage, we see joy all life long, youth, following one’s heart, and removal of vexation from life. Does this seem too physical, too un-spiritual? It is not. Yes, this world is filled with evil, tyranny, disaster, the uncontrollable future and futility in work. There is no pretending in Ecclesiastes. Sometimes, for some more than others, life is not rosy. However, faith teaches us that life is a gift from God to be lived for Him and enjoyed. He came to redeem us to enjoy Him and glorify Him which includes calling nothing unclean that He has called clean. The grace in Christ and the guidance of the Spirit teaches us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, not to renounce the blessing of God. Jesus came to set us free from sin to enjoy God and all His good gifts. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for your health, for your family, for music and for good things. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 21 – An amazing chocolate factory

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” - 1 Timothy 4:4-5 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 This is a wonderful section of Scripture. It describes what the gospel of Jesus does in our lives. I am introducing this Scripture to us with an illustration. Perhaps you have seen the 1971 film, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Five children win golden tickets to visit Willie Wonka’s amazing mysteries candy factory. After the children and some parents arrive at the factory, Wonka takes them to the door leading into his factory. But to everyone’s surprise, it’s a very small, insignificant door. They are all disappointed and cynical and think the whole of Wonka’s factory is loony. However, when Wonka plays the musical combination, the door opens up to a huge, fantastic, grandiloquent, chocolate room full of colors and candy. The door into the room was small from the outside, but the place was magnificent on the inside. This helps us understand how the gospel works. When people are unbelievers they see the Christian life as small, silly and always disappointing. But when you believe in Jesus and are saved, you see the greatness of God, His forgiving grace, and the glorious new life we have with Him in the world He has made. The words in italics are the emphasis of Ecclesiastes 11:7-10. When we are saved by the Lord, we don’t escape this world, we are reintegrated to it to enjoy it in godliness. Read how Paul describes this truth in Colossians 1:18-23 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. Suggestion for prayer Father, grant me the grace to enjoy life in holiness. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 20 – Serving others generously today

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:16 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:6 Solomon applies the principle of verse 1 in three ways. First, with faith in God take the risk of serving others. Second, with faith in God take the risk of serving others generously. Today, we explore Solomon’s third application, with faith in God, we take the risk of serving others generously today. Think of the risks farmers take to plant. They could take the seed and sell it or use it for food. Instead, a wise farmer sows in the morning and at night by faith. He does not know if he will prosper, but he sows today! We could hoard our money and time to make sure we always have enough, but then we would not give generously right now. Scripture calls us to give generously to others today (1 John 3:17; James 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-18). For love of others and honor of God go without “me time,” or “money,” or “comfort,” today! Take the risk! Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 and Philippians 4:15-19. God will supply our every need. Consequently, we can give generously today because we can trust God to bring our bread back to us. Meyer wrote, “We are supplied by his abundances. It all comes down to faith. We can be extravagant in our generosity today because God is faithful and abundantly generous.” Christ gave every day of His earthly life. Jesus still gives to us today in heaven. His word still goes forth saying, “Today is the day of salvation”(Hebrews 3:12-15). Suggestion for prayer Ask the Lord to help you see how much He gives to you every day. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 19 – Serving others generously

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:2, 6 Today we explore Solomon’s second application of the principle in verse 1. The first is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others. The second is, with faith in God, take the risk of serving others generously. Generous giving is what God means in verse 2a. Don’t stop at giving to seven people. Go on giving to eight, nine or eleven. Give to the utmost; be a river of generosity to others. The verse also says, “For you don’t know when a disaster may happen.” This means: be so generous that you give to people even before there is a need! You don’t need a crisis to give to others. We are told in Psalm 112 that the Lord Jesus distributes freely and gives to the poor. He does this all the time and in many ways, not to just seven, but to eight, to nine, to a million. He gives not according to good works, or status. No, Jesus gives generously even in the midst of the greatest disaster on earth, our sinfulness. Maybe we would die for a noble cause or even a noble person, but we wouldn’t take that risk for Adolf Hitler. But while we were wretched sinners Christ died for us! God in Christ did not hold on to His wealth and forget about us. He became poor so that we might be rich. And, He found His investment; He got His bread back! His people and His world are saved and will come into the eternal Kingdom of God. Suggestion for prayer May you make me a cheerful giver, giving even out of my poverty. (2 Corinthians 9:6-10) Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

March 18 – God’s giving grace

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” – 1 Peter 1:20 Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Why does the Lord encourage us to serve others in the language of, “take the risk"? First, in His grace, God confronts us in our sin. We generally think that loving others before ourselves is a losing game.We connive, rationalize, and jockey life so we come out on top. To give to others is often seen as risky business. Of course, godly wisdom practices stewardship, but we all know the self-justifications we’ve made for not helping a person, or not having children, or not sharing our time. Secondly, in His grace, God reveals Himself in verses 1-6. God in Christ cast His bread on the water before the foundation of the world! In Jesus, we see that God took the risk of living for others. He was a sower who sowed the Word. He knew not all the seeds would fall on good ground, but He sowed anyway. God Almighty is not like that foolish servant in the parable of the talents who wouldn’t risk losing his master’s money! No, God in Christ boldly worked for His kingdom and has brought back huge profits. God gave to Israel again and again even though He knew they would reject Him. Imagine, God gave Himself, for from this disobedient people, a virgin conceived and bore a Son. This Son of God served His people to redeem them. God cast His bread on the waters. When we are born again and trust in Jesus, we too take risks to count others more significant than ourselves. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks to God for His inexpressible gift of loving and serving us. Rev. Henry Bartsch has been serving as pastor of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Chatham, Ontario) since 2003. He and his wife Tammy have seven children and two grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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