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Daily devotional

March 3 – God’s glory and God’s rest

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” – Genesis 2:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 4:1-11 In Genesis one, we read about God bringing form in formlessness by subduing chaos and disorder. The first three days He forms light, sky, land and vegetation. Then for three days, He fills the forms: light-bearers for the day and night, birds and fish in the sky and water, and animals and people on the land. In the beginning of Genesis two, we read about God resting on the seventh day. First, God rests from His work of creating, but it also means that He celebrates the rest and peace His creation radiates. Truly, everything that He had made is very good! Everyone and everything reflected the loving presence of God and His glory. This harmonious creation was meant to last forever. We see that in a little detail that is missing in our Scripture reading. After each of the six days of creating, we read that there was an evening and a morning. However, with the seventh day, we do not read this. This does not mean that the seventh day did not have an evening and a morning. However, by not mentioning this, Moses draws attention to the fact that the harmony and rest of God’s good creation was meant to last forever. Not in the beginning stage as we saw yesterday, but in the full-grown, mature state of the new heaven and the new earth. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God on which the author of Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 4:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father for your hope of glory: entering into the fullness of the joyful rest and peace of God’s loving presence. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

March 2 – God created for His glory

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23  Scripture reading: Revelation 21:9-22 Why did God create the world? God created for His glory so that human beings and creation would praise Him. However, the glory of God also means His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. Thus, God not only created the world so that human beings and creation would praise Him, but also so that human beings and creation would live in His loving presence and reflect this by participating in His life, light and love. However, when we look at the end of Scripture, we see that the end is better than the beginning. The beginning of creation is only the beginning of the life of glory while the new heaven and new earth are the perfection or consummation of the life of glory. In other words, there is room for growth to the perfection and fullness of living in God’s life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. You see this, for instance, in the fact that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, there were sun, moon and stars. But in the end, with the new heaven and the new earth, there will be no sun, moon, or stars, for creation and humanity will bask directly in the light of the glory of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is even more. While Adam and Eve could sin and die in the beginning, in the end, God’s new humanity will not be able to sin and die. We will be incorruptible and immortal just like God. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to live not only so that people will praise Him, but also so that you reflect His life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

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

This month’s meditations will be about God’s mission for His glory. God created the world for His glory, that humanity and creation would reflect His life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence by being people and places where heaven and earth meet. As such, God would be praised by both humanity and creation. Because this changed with the fall into sin, God embarks on a mission to make all things new in a world where His people and His creation would once again abide in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). However, from the end of Scripture, we know that that the end is better than the beginning. The beginning of creation is only the beginning of the life of glory, while the new heaven and new earth are the perfection or consummation of the life of glory. In other words, right from the beginning of God’s good creation there was room for growth to reach the perfection and fullness of living in God’s life-giving, light-giving, and loving presence. The biblical covenants made or cut in Scripture are designed with a view to advancing and guaranteeing God’s commitment to His goal for creation and to having His people participate with Him in the achievement of this goal. Covenants regulate an existing relationship. Covenants often deal with a problem that causes uncertainty in this relationship. A new covenant often updates an earlier one to the new situation that the new covenant is facing. Because of space restrictions, these mediations only focus on the biblical covenants mentioned in the book of Genesis. That’s why I have entitled these meditations: God’s Mission for His Glory and His Covenants with Noah, Creation, and Abraham. I look forward to continuing this series some time in the future and deal with God’s mission for His glory and His covenants with Israel, His covenant with David and the promise of a new covenant. But that will have to wait for some other time. I enjoyed writing these meditations. I was edified in doing so. I hope and pray that you will be too. **** “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’" – Revelation 21:3. Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-8 In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the loving presence of God. As such, they participated in His life, light and love and reflected this to one another and throughout the Garden. This made Adam and Eve people where heaven and earth meet. And it made the Garden of Eden a place where heaven and earth meet. As such, Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden reflected the glory of God, His life-giving, light-giving and loving presence. With the fall into sin, all of this changed. Because Adam and Eve lived outside the Garden of Eden, they no longer lived in God’s loving presence nor participated in His life, light, and love as they once used to. Moreover, they no longer lived in a place, nor were they people where heaven and earth met, who could give each other and those around them an encounter with God’s presence, His glory. However, God had no intention of leaving things this way. He immediately declared His intent to embark on a mission for His glory. All things would be made new, where His people and His world would once again dwell in His loving presence and be people and places where heaven and earth meet (Genesis 3:15). Throughout Scripture we encounter God on this mission for His glory. At the end of Scripture, we see that God achieves the goal of this mission for His glory. What a beautiful and encouraging mission this is! Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to show you how He is on a mission for His glory in your life.  Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren....

Daily devotional

February 29 – Taw

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 27 – Sin and shin (1): Perfection

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

Daily devotional

February 26 – Resh: Look, consider, and act

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

Daily devotional

February 25 – Qoph: Reliance

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

Daily devotional

February 24 – Tsadhe (2): Righteous by faith

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

Daily devotional

February 23 – Tsadhe (1): Righteousness

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

Daily devotional

February 22 – Pe: Revelation

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

Daily devotional

February 21 – Ayin: Action

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

Daily devotional

February 20 – Samekh (2): Justice

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

Daily devotional

February 19 – Samekh (1): Mercy

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

Daily devotional

February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 14 – Kaph: Longing

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

Daily devotional

February 13 – Yodh: Fear God and keep his commandments

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

Daily devotional

February 12 – Teth: God is good

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

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