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Daily devotional

October 14 – The purpose of ministers

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus....preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 4 Ministers are pastors or shepherds. Together with the elders of the church, they are to equip the people of God for ministry. Ministers do this primarily through two means: the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. God's Word feeds us since it reveals to us the living Word, namely Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. 1 Timothy 4 teaches us that a good preacher uses the Word to expose false teachings and points to the truth. The Word is like a sharp double-edged sword, that penetrates to our deepest parts to expose our sins and expose us to the light of Christ. Thus Paul teaches Titus (Titus 1:9) to encourage living in accord with sound teaching so that no one will malign the Word of God, but rather be led to glorify God. It is not an easy task to reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching. Thus it is crucial that pastors continually pray for themselves and the people under their charge. We should constantly be keeping them in prayer that they may faithfully bring the word and so equip us for ministry. Because of their work, ministers are often the recipients of criticism. Because they are sinful they often fail. Forgive them and love them and let them know that you do. Enable them to do the work of ministry with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no blessing to you (Hebrews 13:17). Suggestions for prayer Pray for your minister that he may faithfully bring the Word.  Pray that you might have a teachable spirit. Pray also for missionaries. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 13 – Called to ministry

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… – Ephesians 4:11-12 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-12 We all need the proper tools to do our work. Yet all the tools in the world do not help us if we do not know how to use them. Our children also need to know how to use the tools we give them. We not only give them Bibles, but we teach them how to use them! Every Christian is given a gift (gifts) to be used for the Lord. We need to learn how to use it (them). This is why we were given the apostles and prophets (the Bible), evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They are to equip us for ministry, teaching us how to be faithful ministers using the gifts God has given us. Many think that ministry is something ministers and missionaries are called to and that as church members, they are just to be ministered to. This is out of step with what the Spirit says in these verses. We have a joint ministry. We all are anointed to build up the church, helping fellow Christians and bringing in the lost sheep so that the church increasingly becomes one. If you are not engaged in this ministry in some form, you must repent of your sin and begin to fulfill the ministry to which the Spirit of God is calling you. While all are gifted, we all need each other in order to be built up, to grow in grace and truth. We must be active in our mutual ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to use your gifts to build others up and to fulfill your ministry. Pray for your pastors and elders that they may help you in your ministry. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 12 – Grateful praise-worthy living

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day today. Christians will above all thank and praise God for calling them out of darkness into His wonderful light. We do so best by speaking of Him and showing Christ's character in our living. In the Old Testament, we read that God redeemed a people in order to bring praise to His name. In Jeremiah 13:11, God says: I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. This God-centered focus should be ours. Often we fall into the trap of thinking about our success, our honour, our benefits, even in times of worship and praise, yet God's purpose for all of our living is His glory. When we forget this, our witness is poor and God's name is not glorified as it ought to be. Today is a day for prayer and song, for speaking to others about the greatness of our God. Salvation is not simply for our welfare and pleasure, but that we might serve God and witness for Jesus. We have a natural tendency to conform to the pattern of life around us as Israel did. We need to discipline ourselves to live holy lives reflecting God's character. As kingdom citizens, we are aliens and strangers here. Focus your living on Jesus, abstain from selfish desires to living holy lives for our Saviour's praise. Suggestion for prayer Give thanks for all of God's blessings, above all the wonderful life we have in Jesus. Pray for a Christ-centered focus in all you do. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 11 – A peculiar people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: Psalm 135 Today we consider the phrase a people belonging to the Lord. This phrase is based on Old Testament language as in Psalm 135:4. Some versions use the phrase a peculiar people; peculiar not in the sense of strange, but because God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He made us His own, to be light in this world. Thus we are different from all other peoples. You find this idea in Exodus 19:5 where God says, now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. All the earth belongs to the Lord, but believers are special to Him (peculiar, treasured). The Old Testament often refers to God's people this way. Malachi 3:17 calls those who serve the Lord, His treasured possession; there God is speaking of those who would yet come to Him. The church is God's treasured possession because we have been bought by the blood of Christ. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die to remove the guilt of our sin. As you gather for worship today remember how the sacrifice of Jesus has brought us to God. All who confess their sins and believe in Jesus as their atoning sacrifice are His special people, His treasured possession. Jesus is coming again to take us to be with Him forever. Treasure Him who treasures you! To God be the glory! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for all God's people, His church. Give thanks that He forgives all our sin and calls us His children. Pray for a heart that treasures Him who treasures us. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 10 – A holy nation

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12 In this text, the church is defined as a holy nation. A nation is a group of people combined by common laws and government, privileges, obligations and customs. Jesus Christ is our King. We are to live by His Word. We have privileges such as freedom from sin and freedom to enjoy fellowship with God. We have common traditions (worship, devotions, sacraments). We have a passion to welcome new citizens to the kingdom. Our citizenship is in the heavenly kingdom of Jesus. We are a holy nation - that is, one set apart, consecrated to bringing glory to God in this world. We seek His kingdom and righteousness first of all. Zechariah 14:20-21 foretells this kingdom where: HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty. Indeed, our clothes, cars, tools, homes, cell phones, pots and pans are set apart, holy to the Lord. We are holy to the Lord. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. (Romans 14:7). Whatever we do, whether in word and deed, we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). We must use our citizenship in this world for the advancement of Christ's heavenly kingdom, to bring praise to Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we use all we are and have in service to Jesus. Pray that we may be ambassadors for our King, calling all people to faith. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 9 – God's chosen people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 To be chosen for honour in our community, school, or on our team, fills us with a determination to be worthy of that honour. We who believe were chosen to a particular task. This is not just as individuals, but as a body of believers. The words "people, priesthood, and nation" imply a united people. This is the church! God takes us, strangers, from each other, and unites us as one body - not because we are so beautiful or wise, so organized or skillful, but so that through us He might be glorified. We boast not in ourselves but in Him! In Exodus 19:5-6, God says, Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Priesthood implies brotherhood. We are a family! God adopted us in Christ so that we would bring Him glory and praise, as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Whatever we do, even eating and drinking, it is for His praise (1 Corinthians. 9:31). The honour of being chosen is to declare the praises of God. This takes place in worship but is not limited to worship. All of our living is to be a harmony of praise to God. We declare His praise by living like Him. 1 Peter 2:12 says, Live such good lives among the pagans that …they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.  Good living includes our conversations, sports, entertainment and music. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the church may work in harmony for the sake of God's glory. Pray that in word and deed you may bring praise to God. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 8 – Made for praise

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 It is a marvelous blessing to be gifted with faith and to be united to Christ and His people in His church. But we may not just sit back and say, 'We have it good!' We are saved and united to bring praise to God. This was His purpose from the beginning. In Exodus 19:6 God declared His intent to make His people a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Isaiah 61:6 echoes this when He says, you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. In Revelation 1:6, glory and praise is given to God by those who have been made a kingdom and priest to serve His God and father. The purpose of a temple is worship. We are not united simply to be saved, but to do good works of praise (Ephesians 2:10). Hebrews 13:15 says, Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. God unites us as a temple, in order to glorify Him, to praise Him. Some day all believers will be united in praise. The New Jerusalem will consist of believers from all nations and times united in praise. Our worship services are but a foretaste of this. Although far from perfect, when we feed on the pure Word of God and allow ourselves to be shaken, shaped and renewed, as we come to Christ, we are being united to bring Him glory and praise. Suggestions for prayer Pray that believers will devote themselves to worship God and give Him glory. Pray that you may discover ways to give God glory in daily living. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 7 – A living unity with Jesus

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-22 We have considered this verse for several days. Have we noticed the living and dynamic nature of the church? As we come implies a process. Also, notice the phrase are being built. Then notice the phrase like living stones. We are not church simply because of a death on a cross. We are not united because in the past we made a confession. Our unity is not in a past event, but a present reality, or rather, a present relationship. We are still coming, still being built up. We are living stones. As we learn more about Jesus, as we follow Him, we become like Him and become more united with each other. If you are married, your unity with your wife is not just (I hope) based on a past wedding date. It is something ongoing, something enjoyed and worked at. So with Jesus. We are His bride and we want to know and enjoy Him more and more. We are not just coexisting until He comes again, but we are being built up as we strengthen our relationship, exercising our faith in Jesus.  As we love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, we grow in unity as a body of believers. Jesus is the living stone. As we come to Him, His life fills us; in Him, we grow and bear fruit. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. In Him, we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the living fellowship you have with Jesus. Give thanks for the beauty of a church growing in holiness and in numbers. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 6 – Rejected, but precious

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: John 1:1-13 Yesterday, we saw that Jesus is the foundation of the church. It is in coming to Jesus that we are united to form the church. Peter, however, says that He was rejected by men. In John 1, we read that He came unto his own but His own received him not. Many Jews did not receive Him as the promised Saviour. This is also true of all people. Unless moved by the Spirit of God, we do not believe in Him. Romans 1 teaches that there is no one who seeks after God, no, not one. Many today take offense at Jesus. He is a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message (see v.8).  The Jews rejected salvation through Jesus because they pursued salvation as if it were by works (by the law) (see Romans 9:32). We preach ...Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Although many reject Him, He is chosen by God. From before the foundation of the world, Jesus was the chosen Redeemer, and although despised and rejected by men, He is God in the flesh, full of grace and truth. He now reigns in glory to bring us to glory. To know Him is to be forgiven of sin and given newness of life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus may be preached and that sinners might come to repentance and faith in him. Pray that your faith might be strengthened. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 5 – The Church's one foundation!

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:18-1 Peter 2:5 Many see the church as a voluntary organization of believers for encouraging one another in Christian living. They do not see it as a living and struggling organism, the growing body of Christ, the temple of God. 'As you come to him … you are being built into a spiritual house.' These words demonstrate a dramatic shift. The Jewish people thought the law was the cornerstone of God's people, but here we are directed to Jesus as the rock on which the church is built. God had promised that He would lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation, who gives security for believers, but judgment for those who rejected Him. God, Himself would be that stone (Isaiah 28:16ff). In Acts 4, Peter tells us Jesus is the stone the builders rejected which has become the cornerstone (Psalm 118). 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. A cornerstone is crucial in a foundation, uniting two walls together. The point is, that in our relationship with Jesus, we are being built up together as a spiritual house. The church is built of those blessed by the Spirit with faith in Jesus. He is the one and only Saviour given to men through whom we can be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God. In Jesus, we are united together and are being built into a spiritual house of worship. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus and thus your unity with other believers. Pray that unbelievers may come to Jesus and enjoy unity with Him. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 4 – Gathered for praise

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42  Scripture reading: Acts 2:37-47 Today Christians gather for worship. Worship and praise are our primary duty. Public worship stands at the heart of daily service to God. When in Acts 2 the Spirit applied the gospel to the hearts of the hearers, they responded by uniting together with other believers for worship. They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, that is, to hear how Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament and is the only Saviour and Lord. Around this searching of Scripture, they united in fellowship, prayer and sacraments. These are the basic elements of worship. In Acts 2:46, we see how eagerly they devoted themselves to this with glad and sincere hearts. The indwelling Spirit united them for worship in the Word and sacraments. Today we tend to minimize such ordinary activities. We want to dwell on the experiences of faith. Yet it is more crucial for us to hear about Jesus and how all Scripture focuses on Him, calling us to follow Him. This stress of the early church on the Word and sacraments is something we must regain. All too often we forget the crucial nature of worship and the need for such fellowship in the Word and Sacraments. A Spirit-filled church will be a Word and worship focused church. To praise God as He desires, we need to know Him as He reveals Himself to us. Devote yourself to such worship and fellowship in a church where Jesus is faithfully preached and the Triune God wholeheartedly worshipped. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will bless the preaching of His Word today. Pray that you and the church will be devoted to faithful praise and worship. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 3 – To God be the glory

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. – Romans 11:36 Scripture reading: Romans 11:30-36 One rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation was Soli Deo Gloria (To God only be glory). On reading the Scriptures in the original language, the reformers discovered that God's glory is a major theme of Scripture. God is the creator of the world. He made us to enjoy him and glorify him. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that the primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God's eternal plan for us, not only in our creation but even in our salvation (we were brought out of darkness into His light to declare His praise) is to show His glory – even our eating and drinking is to be for the praise of His name. To glorify God is to show forth His excellence. His love is perfect and we praise Him for that! His justice is absolute and we exalt His justice. His mercy is pure, His compassion knows no bounds. He provides all we need, so His care is complete, even in the middle of adversity. His grace is always sufficient. To glorify God is to show His perfection and praise Him for it. It is easy to talk about things we think highly of. After the Patriots' last Super Bowl comeback victory, everyone had to praise the skill of Tom Brady and his team. They glorified him! This is something we were saved to do concerning our God and Saviour! Speak of His excellent deeds and character! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God enables you to see and believe the mighty works of God and that you can glorify Him for them. Pray that you come to enjoy Him in all His excellence! Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 2 – Our God reigns

And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church. – Ephesians 1:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-23 The sovereignty of God over all of life is something we should treasure and meditate on often. The hairs of our head are numbered (Luke 12:7) so that not one falls without His knowledge. He works in everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He works to preserve the church He purchased with His blood, and He will lose none of those who were given to Him by His Father (John 6:39). His sovereign grace is so comforting. Since we are born dead in our sins and trespasses, we must be born again (by the Spirit) if we would see the kingdom. This is God's gracious act. Jesus is the author and finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us! Now that He reigns in glory, how much more shall we not be fully saved by His life (Romans 5:10). This sovereign grace is such that He even controls the minds and decisions of kings and directs nations in a way that accomplishes His purposes. Nothing in all creation can ever separate a believer from God. Since He is king over all of life, we must submit all of our living to Him for His glory. Not just Sunday worship, but everything is to bring praise to God. Since we so often fail in this, we may be comforted that God will yet accomplish His purposes. His Kingdom will come, His will be done! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for giving Jesus all authority. Praise God that Jesus is working in everything for the salvation of His people. Serve Him as your Lord! Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. 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 October

October 31 is the anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing of the 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, sparking what is known as the Protestant Reformation.  The reformers rediscovered that salvation was by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, through the Word alone! And they discovered that all this was for the glory of God alone! The result was that great changes took place in worship and church organization. There was also a renewed enthusiasm for missions and a deeper understanding of how all of life is to be lived for the glory of God. This month we will focus on some of these things, particularly the nature of the church and her duty, and the wholehearted worship and service to which Christians are called. October 1 – What is the gospel? For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." – Romans 1:16-17 Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-17 The Scriptures (the Bible) are able to make us wise unto salvation. The Scriptures are inspired by God (2Timothy 3:15-16). The Apostle Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, but most excited to proclaim it since it provided the only way to be at peace with God. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, which many will celebrate later this month, many rediscovered in the Bible that Salvation is not something we obtain by our works, but is a gift of God, obtained for us by the work of Jesus on the cross. While the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven by God (Romans 1:18), which is a scary thought since all of us have sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed. Since we cannot save ourselves through doing good works, since we are all transgressors and since the righteous shall live by faith, God himself provided righteousness for us in the person and work of Jesus. In love, He sent Jesus to live a perfect life for us and to make the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we would be restored to fellowship with God. The Bible reveals the only way of salvation, namely, that in Jesus, God saves sinners, so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The Bible fully contains whatever we need to believe for salvation. No other revelation is necessary. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the Bible. Thank God that Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation. Pray for faith to rest in this truth. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 30 – Crucifying the flesh and keeping in step with the Spirit

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:24-25 Scripture reading: Galatians 2:15-21; 5:16-25 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is what is true of those who have faith in Christ. We are no longer in union with Adam. We are in union with Christ, our Second Adam. When He died, we died. When He rose again, we rose again. Therefore, we are no longer under the curse of the law. Instead, we have God’s eternal blessing in Christ and have received the promised Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14; 4:4-7). The Spirit is now producing His righteous fruit in our lives, and, “against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). In light of these things, Paul says that we who belong to Christ crucify our sinful desires. Like a crucifixion, sanctification is a process of killing our sin, which is painful (cutting out idols of the heart), progressive (imperfect in this life), and guaranteed to be completed (perfected at death or when Christ returns). On the flip side is new life in Christ, by the Spirit, “If  we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” This is a military image. The Spirit is like our drill sergeant and we are soldiers who are to keep in step with His commands. Through the means of grace (Word and sacraments) let us follow His lead to our promised land in the new heavens and new earth, where we will see Christ and be like Him! Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He graciously redeemed you in Christ from slavery to sin, death, and the devil and gave you His Spirit. Pray for more Christ-like fruit by the Spirit and thank God that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 29 – The fruit of the Spirit is self-control

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls…– Proverbs 25:28 But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-14; 8:1-4 Proverbs 25:28 says that a person who lacks self-control is like a city without walls. Why is that a problem? In those days, a city without walls was vulnerable to enemy attacks. So too, unless a person learns, by God’s grace, to master his/her lusts, temper and all sorts of evil inclinations,  he/she will be vulnerable to attacks from the world, the flesh, the devil and will be overrun and destroyed by the dominion of sin, which ultimately leads to death. But thanks be to God that, for those who have faith in Christ, God graciously delivers them from both the guilt and bondage of sin (Romans 6:11-14; 8:1). By the Spirit they have the fruit of self-control. What is self-control? Self-control is like a wall of defence against our sinful desires that wage war against our souls. J.V. Fesko describes it this way, “Self-control is the ability to deny ourselves the indulgence of our sinful desires even when no one can see us, even when no one can know our thoughts. Self-control is ultimately the ability to be controlled, not by the sinful self, but by the Holy Spirit.” We need to learn self-control in every area of life: eating, drinking, sex, thoughts, emotions, leisure time, work, and more. Even something good can become idolatrous if we overindulge and lack self-control. Let us walk by the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Suggestions for prayer Do you struggle with self-control? Thank God that Christ never lacked self-control and redeemed you from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Pray for more self-control and look forward to the day when you will walk perfectly by the Spirit! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 28 – The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: Christ-like gentleness

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench. – Matthew 12:20 Scripture reading: Matthew 11:25-30; 12:15-21 The power and gentleness of God are supremely revealed in the person and work of Christ. Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). People found rest in Jesus’ presence. This is one of the marks of a person who is gentle. Do people get nervous and tense up in your presence or are they calm and relaxed in your presence? People could rest in the presence of Jesus Who was gentle and lowly in heart. Matthew 12:20 says, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench.” The bruised reed and smoldering wick is the person who has been hurt in some way, either due to his/her own sin, the sin of others or the harsh circumstances of life, and is barely hanging on by a thread. That kind of person could find healing and hope in Jesus’ presence. His words and actions would not be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Rather they would bind up the broken-hearted. You see, the same Jesus Who could calm the storm with His almighty power could also calm the troubled soul with His powerful gentleness. Are your words and actions powerfully gentle towards others? Suggestions for prayer Repent of harsh, abrasive, inconsiderate thoughts, words and deeds. Reflect on the following Scriptures and pray for the Spirit to give you Christ-like gentleness (Proverbs 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Titus 3:1-2; Galatians 6:1; James 3:17). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 27 – Let us consider how to stir one another up to love

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 When we are called to worship on the Lord’s Day, we are not only called to draw near to God, we also are called to draw near to God’s people. Because Christ first considered us in love, we are called to consider one another in love. As you draw near to your brothers and sisters in Christ today, consider, is someone doubting? Is someone discouraged? Is someone struggling with sin? Is someone grieving? Is someone not there? Consider what your brothers and sisters are going through, and consider how to stir them up to love and good works. In order to do these things we need to diligently attend to the means of grace in corporate worship, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.” We need the public means of grace and we need each other. We need others to stir us up to love and good works, and we need to stir up others to love and good works. Furthermore, we need to be, “encouraging one another.” How can you encourage others as you gather for worship today? Just your presence alone is an encouragement to others. Singing with all your heart is an encouragement. Listening attentively to the preached Word is an encouragement to your pastor. Telling others you are praying for them is an encouragement. How else can you be an encouragement? Let us be, “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will make you an encouragement to someone today as you gather for worship. Pray that you would be stirred up to love and good works. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 26 – The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: the gentleness of God

But the fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness. – Galatians 5:22-23 Scripture reading: Isaiah 40 George Bethune once said, “Perhaps no grace is less prayed for, or less cultivated than gentleness…seldom do we reflect that not to be gentle is sin.” When is the last time you prayed for more gentleness? When is the last time you repented of not being gentle? But what is gentleness? It’s not shyness, timidity or fearfulness. A lot of people think of it in those terms and view it as a weakness. R.C Sproul rightly points out, “Gentleness does not preclude the possibility of strength but presupposes it.” Gentleness is power under self-control. Jerry Bridges notes that “Gentleness is illustrated by the way we would handle a carton of exquisite crystal glasses: it is the recognition that the human personality is valuable but fragile and must be handled with care.” The opposite of gentleness is abrasiveness and arrogance. We see in Isaiah 40 that God is both the all-powerful God Who created and sustains the world and the God Who speaks tenderly to His people (40:1-2). “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (40:11). The Psalmist declares, “Your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” The best teachers have a good balance of power and gentleness, toughness and tenderness. This is why Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is the greatest teacher of all! Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins of not being gentle in your thoughts, words and deeds. Pray for the Spirit to work Christ-like gentleness in you towards others. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 25 – The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:22-23; Hebrews 6:13-20 We live in a world of broken promises. But thanks be to God we belong to a promise-keeping God Who is always faithful to His covenant promises to us in Christ (Hebrews 6:13-20). And if you trust in Christ, God has promised you that He is your God and that He will never leave you nor forsake you, but will pardon all of your sins forever, protect you from all of your enemies, and provide richly for you in Christ in this life and the life to come. He is unswervingly You will see this with your own eyes when Christ returns. But now, we walk by faith in God’s Word. His Word is absolutely honest and utterly dependable. How should we live in light of God’s faithfulness to us in Christ? In gratitude for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness we walk by the Spirit in faithfulness. Faithfulness includes being loyal, honest and dependable. It means, following through on your commitments, letting your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.” Where have you been flaky? In what relationships have you been a fair-weather friend? Where have you been dishonest? What commitments is God calling on you to follow through? Where you have failed, confess your sins and walk in faithfulness. God is faithful to forgive and to sanctify you by His Spirit (1 John 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Suggestions for prayer Sing and meditate on the words of the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” or “How Firm a Foundation.” Pray that God would produce the fruit of Christ-like faithfulness in you by the Spirit. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 24 – The fruit of the Spirit is kindness and goodness

But the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness, goodness. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:4-8 Kindness and goodness are often used interchangeably in the Bible. We’ll consider them together. Kindness and goodness flow out of patience. Kindness and goodness are the positive manifestations of patience. In the words of Gordon Fee, “The Spirit not only empowers us to endure the hostility or unkindness of others; He also enables us to show kindness to them, actively to pursue their good. If longsuffering means not to “chew someone’s head off” (see Gal. 5:15), kindness means to find ways of binding up their wounds.” This is motivated by the fact that God not only withholds wrath from us, but also shows eternal kindness and goodness towards us in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-7). Jerry Bridges describes kindness as, “a sincere desire for the happiness of others; goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness.” How can you show kindness and goodness to those in your home? At church? At work? In your neighborhood? To your enemies? “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). If you are weary of doing good, remember God’s kindness and goodness to you in Christ. In Christ, God’s kindness and goodness toward you are saving, merciful, life-transforming, generous and eternal (Titus 3:4-7). If God has been so kind and good to us in Christ, let us walk by the Spirit in Christ-like kindness and goodness toward others. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would make you sensitive to the opportunities in your family, church and society to show kindness and goodness. Pray for the Spirit to enable you to walk in those good works, “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.  ...

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