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Daily devotional

June 2 – Sin and grace at the boundary

It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea. – Deut. 1:2 Scripture reading: Deut. 1: 1-8 Just as the boundary is an opportunity for reflection on God's instruction, so it is an opportunity for reflection on sin and grace. The first generation of Israel had forgotten the grace of God. They had walked through the Red Sea, eaten manna and heard the very voice of God at Mt. Sinai. Despite this, Israel rebelled against God at Kadesh-Barnea. They were afraid of the giants in the land. Moses’ statement that it only takes 11 days to journey from Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea is a reminder that, due to their sin, it took Israel 40 years to enter Palestine instead of a couple of weeks. Now Israel is there. Her new position is a testament to the grace of God. We are the same, forgetting God’s mercies and lapsing into apathy. This can produce long periods of failure: our wilderness. These sins have consequences in our families and our churches that sometimes can last over generations. Despite our folly, God is gracious. Even before Israel was ready to enter the Promised Land, God was beginning to give her victories. God destroyed Sihon and Og through Israel. If we look back at our wilderness, we will see that God has already been working in our times of wandering. Boundaries are an opportunity for us to remember lost opportunities and failures, to remind us to watch and pray, to guard our hearts and to remember we are here by God’s grace. When we remember that and turn to God, He provides. He will renew and strengthen you. Suggestions for prayer Meditate on how God has worked in your life. Thank Him for how He has shown His grace. Express your confidence in His work as you look to the future. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 1 – Introduction, and Reflection at the boundary

Pastor James Zekveld started his ministry with a sermon series on the book of Deuteronomy. June’s devotions are a summary of some of the insights gained while preaching through that book. Deuteronomy is a book of covenant renewal. This comes out in the continual call to remember God’s works, to search the Scriptures for God’s wisdom, and to remain faithful. Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law saying… – Deut. 1:5 Scripture reading: Deut. 1:1-5 You’ve decided to move, or you’re headed to University, or about to get married. All these activities invite reflection: kingdom reflection. Who are you? Who is your Master? How will you follow Him in your new situation? How do you advance the kingdom of God? Israel stops at the boundary of the Promised Land. They are about to receive the gift for which they have been waiting forty years. They rest at the borders and Moses explains the law again, preparing them for a big change. They will no longer be slaves or wanderers. They are about to be landowners. They are called to reflect on the law that the Lord their God has given them. Israel is to remember what God has done for them and what He has taught them. God will continue to be God to them and they must not forget Him as He prepares Israel for her new world. Do you look for renewal at the boundaries of your life? It’s a new day. How will I live for God today? How do I live for God’s kingdom in my marriage? In my job? As a student? God brings us new opportunities, so that we may reflect on Him and His Word. God brings us to greater maturity. Forgetting God is easy. A new boundary is an opportunity to reflect and grow. Take the time to reflect on who God is and what His desires are at the boundaries of your life. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Lord’s Holy Spirit so that you may grow in wisdom and maturity at the boundaries in your life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

May 31 – The pillars of the exodus

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! – Psalm 107:14-15 Scripture reading: Psalm 107:1-22 God has been the central character in the story of the Exodus. We pray that in your readings this month you have been blessed to see the LORD’s hand of mercy and power in action. Throughout the Bible, we have references to these majestic moments which God brought about in Egypt. One pillar of our faith is our confidence that a greater exodus has occurred in Christ! You can’t read Psalm 107 vs 14 without thinking about Jesus’ ministry of life through His death on the cross. He has brought us out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst our bonds apart. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to bring glory to His name and to reveal His saving purposes. Another great pillar of our joy in Christ is the truth that He has borne our burdens and atoned for our sins so that we have nothing to fear on the Great Day of the Lord. When He comes again to judge the living and the dead, we shall stand with Him and know complete joy and peace in His presence! The coming at midnight of the destroyer of the firstborn in Egypt vividly foreshadows a greater scene we shall soon witness. In the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God gave His people tangible testimonies of their salvation and further sanctification. In Christ and by His Spirit, we are given a greater assurance of these good blessings from our Heavenly Father in our baptism and the Lord’s Supper. So “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). Suggestions for prayer Ask our Gracious Father, to embolden us as His witnesses in a world that constantly rejects Him and His Word. Pray for Him to sanctify us by His Spirit and make us ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 30 – Life in the shadow of your wings

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Saviour of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. – Psalm 17:7-9  Scripture reading: Psalm 17 With all that we have rehearsed thus far, are you more persuaded than ever that the LORD is mighty, merciful, and most gracious towards His people? He heard their cries and He appointed Moses to be their deliverer and leader. He spared Moses and then provided Moses and the people with His Word and Holy Name to assure them that they would be freed. The LORD was with His people through all their distress and He never once looked away from them. He provided clear symbols to Israel of the special place she occupied before God. He demonstrated His Sovereign power over all of creation through the complete upheaval of the natural world in Egypt and He demonstrated His gracious mercy through the provision of the blood of the Lamb to spare them on the night of Judgment. Consider what the LORD has done! He provided a potent symbol of the atonement from the judgment wrath of God in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. And He sheltered them under His wings so that the threat of the judging destroyer was turned because of the LORD our Guardian’s presence. Now consider what He has done for you. He hears your cries! He responds to your plea for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. He provides you with His Word and assurance of freedom. He has shown you Christ, the Son, dying in your place and rising for your new life! He shelters you daily under His wings so that there is no condemnation and no fear of death in this life or judgment in the life to come! Suggestions for prayer Praise God from whom all blessings flow! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 29 – Life without the leaven of pagan Egypt

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' – Exodus 13:7-8  Scripture reading: Exodus 13:1-13, 16; Isaiah 26:1-15, 20-21 “Passover is about getting saved,” writes Phillip Ryken. “It reminds us that we have been delivered from death by a perfect substitute whose blood was shed as a sacrifice for our sins. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us what God wants us to do once we’ve been saved, and that is to live a sanctified life, becoming more and more free from sin.” The LORD uses the symbol of leaven as a vivid teaching lesson. What’s leaven? I’m not a foodie so I had to look this up: “It’s a bit of dough that is kept unbaked from the previous day’s baking and added to the next day’s batch of dough so that it would start the fermentation process there also.” Discarding that lump from their time as Egyptian slaves was a “gesture that symbolized leaving behind all Egyptian influences that might work their way through their lives and corrupt them.” In Joshua 24 we’re told that the fathers in Egypt had idols that they were flirting with - even as God was preparing to redeem them out of Egypt. That same idolatrous leaven, inherited from the nations around them, was to be cleansed from their midst in this Feast of Unleavened Bread. You’re exposed to all kinds of influences in your life - and so many things, like our culture’s view of sexuality, identity, wealth, entertainment and the like, can easily seep in. Yet the LORD sets before us this vivid reminder that He has saved us and calls us to daily live a sanctified life in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would further sanctify you and cause you to grow more and more in holiness through Christ and by His Spirit! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 28 – Life after the night of watching

And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. – Exodus 12:37-38 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:29-51 Life for Pharaoh after the judgment was one of shock, bewilderment and watching the people of the Hebrews go out despite his best efforts to keep them. The night of deliverance for Israel was a night of devastation for the Egyptians. They realize this and say, “If they don’t go, we shall all be dead.” It’s fascinating that in verse 38 we’re specifically told that “a mixed multitude also went up with the Israelites.” It shows that for some of the Egyptians and other non-Israelites, they sought life after the night of judgment on the firstborn of Egypt by joining with the Lord’s people in their exodus from the land. They sought blessing from the LORD and joined His people. This models for us what our very own message of life after the night of deliverance on the cross of Calvary must always be! We also are to proclaim what has happened so that a “mixed multitude” would join with us in our ongoing exodus from the sin and temptation we find in this world. We are also to tell others this truth of God’s deliverance in our continued earthly pilgrimage while we await the heavenly city which is set to be revealed in the days to come! By God’s mercy, a host of Egyptians and non-Israelites believed and were given a place within the covenant community! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Gospel to grip the hearts of friends, neighbors, and loved ones who do not yet believe in Jesus and follow Him! Pray that our thankful and holy living would be an attractive sight in the midst of so much despair in this world and lead many to Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 27 – Life during the night of death

It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. – Exodus 12:42  Scripture reading: Exodus 12:33-51; 2 Peter 3:1-13 What is this watching? It’s more than observing from a distance. It’s a word meaning sheltering or caring for or protecting. Our translation follows the Latin translation of the Hebrew to use the word ‘pass over’ in verse 23 to say that the LORD will ‘pass over the door’ and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you. We can sometimes think of this almost like God ‘skipping by’ the houses of the Israelites, saying, “Oh, not that one.” But there’s more here. In the night of judgment, God actively protects and guards His people. The LORD watched over these homes, like an eagle hovering with outstretched wings over a nest, so that the destroyer would not enter. This is the imagery we find in Exodus 19:4 where God reminds them, “You have seen how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.” Here’s the big point: it’s true of the judgment which is still to come! God will not merely skip by those who believe in Him. He will actively shelter you beneath His wings while judgment falls upon the heavens and the earth! God will hold you tight and secure. You won’t ‘miss’ the judgment as it skips you. You will be taken from the scene of judgment so that you will only behold it while resting secure in the arms of your Saviour! Christ spent three days in the tomb - watching over you! He sealed you with Him into His tomb of death - so that you might also rise with Him! Suggestions for prayer Thank our Merciful Father for sparing us and covering us in His arms of love, mercy, and peace! Rejoice in His Covenant Faithfulness to His Chosen People and pray that many more would find peace and rest in Christ Jesus. In the words of Psalm 17, “Hide me in the shadow of your wings” so that I “will not fear the terror of the night” (Psalm 91) This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 26 – Life when the destroyer comes

None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. – Exodus 12:22-23 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:21-38 Now God is poised and ready to strike Egypt for her sins against the LORD and His people. The previous plagues left the land of Goshen like a shining light, unscathed and untouched, but now God is saying, “This is a judgment that shall strike all.” In Genesis 7, Noah was commanded to enter the ark and not to leave it. We’re told that God sealed the doors of the ark before sending the waters of judgment. Now the LORD commands them to enter their homes and not to leave them. The Israelites’ very dwelling places became a way to pass through the judgment as their doors were sealed with the blood of the lamb – sealed up to pass through unscathed in the night of death in Egypt. One lamb’s life is shed and blood poured out for the many who gathered within and they are sealed into these vessels of deliverance from God’s wrath and just judgment of sin. The destroyer went out and struck all the firstborn – see how specific verse 29 is. God showed no favouritism – the highest born to the lowliest. The only difference on this judgment day was whether they were covered by the blood of the lamb. Even before their Exodus from Egypt and the power of Pharaoh, they must pass through the judgment ordeal which God is sending by the hand of His destroyer. And who can stand when the angel of death appears? Only those who are sealed and covered by the blood of the Lamb! Suggestions for prayer Pray for our Heavenly Father to make us ready for the Day of Judgment and make us thankful for the way of escape He has provided to us. Ask Him to renew our confidence in His unfailing promises to deliver us from all harm and the judgment to come! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 25 – Life before the night of judgment

When your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” – Exodus 12:26-27 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-32; Psalm 91 God’s people were to take a lamb into their homes, care for it for four days and then kill it at twilight. Especially for the children, this must have been shocking! "Dad, what are you doing?" And when they said this, their fathers were to answer: “It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” God had His people make special preparations packed with meaning as a display of their faith in the face of judgment. They were to honour the LORD’s Passover by killing the lamb on the fourteenth day, marking their dwellings with its blood, and remaining within these blood-marked dwellings until the dawn broke. And, in a truth that is profoundly significant, the blood of one lamb would cover the life of all who dwelt in that blood-marked dwelling. In Egypt, all who acted in faith were delivered, while all who ignored His promised coming saw death’s cold hand in their homes. Do we similarly live with faith in the face of God’s coming judgment? The LORD has decreed that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. In Luke 18, Jesus Christ asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Be sure that you are trusting in Jesus, the Lamb of God who has been provided for you and enables you to live with confidence as you await the coming JudgmentDay! Suggestions for prayer Tell our Gracious God that we cherish His wondrous love and the Lamb Whom He has provided to us for our deliverance! Thank Him for His Blood and Righteousness which gives us both forgiveness of sins and righteousness in His Presence! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 24 – Reset your clocks to Exodus time

This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. – Exodus 12:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-2; Hebrews 4:1-13 Have you ever thought of why we gather for worship services on the first day of the week? Christians, ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, have gathered on the Lord’s Day to worship and break bread together. We gather on the day of our victory in Christ! We gather on the day when our guilty verdict was replaced with the verdict of our vindication in the resurrection of our Saviour! The Christian Church, in the hope and joy of the resurrection, established a new starting point to the Sabbath celebration in the aftermath of Christ’s victory. Where the LORD appointed a Sabbath rest for believers before the coming of Christ that required labor for six days and then a day of rest, we consciously see that now we begin each week in the Sabbath rest we enjoy in Christ and then we carry out our callings in the aftermath of our reconciliation in Him! We are living in the aftermath of our glorious exodus from the grave in Christ our Risen King! This pattern of orienting our lives to the great works of God was shown to us in the first place at creation, and we see this in Exodus 12 when the LORD marks out a new highlight on the peoples’ calendars and tells them to reset their clocks to exodus time. When God carries out His work of redemption, it permanently impacts the shape and rhythm of our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for the spiritual rest that we enjoy in Christ! Praise Him for His wondrous acts of reconciliation and deliverance! Ask Him to move our hearts to gratefully worship Him on this coming Lord’s Day as we give witness to and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and our exodus from the grave in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 23 – Not a dog shall growl against you

Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die... There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. – Exodus 11:5-7 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:4-10 This is a fascinating comment here about the dog’s growl. This is more than just a way to say that the Israelites won’t suffer even a scratch. On such a night with so much death in the land, one god of the Egyptians would be especially busy. Anubis, god of the dead and embalming who was represented like a dog in Egyptian images. And on this night, God declared, “The dog shall not growl against any of the people of Israel.” It’s as if the LORD is saying, “Your dog-god will be busy, Pharaoh, dealing with all your dead bodies – but won’t even growl against my people! For I will spare my people so that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” How amazing this is! And the story becomes even more amazing when we see the provisions that the LORD set in place for His people to be spared His fierce anger and powerful hand of vengeance. In the next few chapters, the LORD makes His people prepare for the night of terror in Egypt. He sets them apart and sets a covering over them to guard so that not a dog shall growl nor shall a single hair be touched by the LORD’s avenging angel. In Romans 9, we read of how God says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then, Paul reminds us, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for protecting and preserving your life and granting you the righteousness of Jesus Christ your Saviour! Praise Him for securing the salvation of His people and guarding us against the powers of death. Thank God for His Mercy! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 22 – He will let you go from here

The LORD said to Moses, "Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.” – Exodus 11:1 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:1-3; Exodus 3:13-22 In human history, great warriors have made a name for themselves by winning on the battlefield. But God does something far more amazing than win on the plain of battle against an outmatched Egyptian army. He takes up, with His hand, the very things He has created in the beginning and wields them like His Sword. We can say that creation plays an active role in Israel's release from slavery. The LORD unleashes natural powers and also brings them to a conclusion. Both are remarkable! If you remember, God attacked the symbol of Egypt, the serpent, in the first sign. Then, in the first plague of blood, there was a visible symbol of coming bloodshed. It was a warning sign. Then God attacked the Nile again when He made frogs come forth from the Nile to again bring a defiling presence into the land. Then God attacked the land (plagues 3-6) and then He attacked the sky (in plagues 7-10). God struck the three great sources of so-called divine powers in Egypt: the Nile, the Land and the Skies. By the end of it, Stephen Dempster explains, “The people must think that it is as if all of creation has become unhinged.” What was the right response? To acknowledge and worship God alone! As the Apostle Paul explains, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Suggestions for prayer Pray to our Father in Heaven, His name be hallowed! His awesome deeds give us hope and confidence in His constant care for us. Thank Him for the light of the knowledge of the glory of God which He has shone in our hearts! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 21 – God commands the darkness to swallow Egypt

They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. – Exodus 10:23 Scripture reading: Exodus 10:21-29; John 12:27-50 To blot out the light of the sun over the whole land of Egypt for three days is incredible. To simultaneously provide light to the people of Israel is even more incredible! In Egypt, they worshipped the sun god Ra who rose steadily every morning and then departed into the place where Egyptians believed death dwelt. But they always expected the light to return – and sure enough, through the rotation of the earth, the sun would reappear and the Egyptians would be heartened, thinking, “Our god has come through death’s place and returned to us alive and so shall we also be sustained!” The ninth plague begins without warning and it strikes a powerful blow to the whole idea of Egyptian worship of the sun god Ra. Where is this god who is suddenly cast down? For three days they experienced a darkness so thick and oppressive that they were filled with the terrors of the night. They knew the sense of dread that perhaps the sun and its light would never return. And what was the response of the Egyptians to be? The same response that many gave in Luke chapter 7 when Jesus performed a miracle in their presence: “And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’" (Luke 7:15-16). The LORD continues to reveal His glory and might in creation and calls us all to follow Christ Jesus with eager devotion and persistent gratitude. Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy God, for His awesome deeds and wondrous power! Thank Him that Christ Jesus is our Lamp and Shining Light in the midst of the world’s darkness. Thank Him for being the Light of the World! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 20 – God commands the heavens to strike and the locusts to destroy

“By now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Exodus 9:15-16 Scripture reading: Exodus 9:13-21; Psalm 29 Pharaoh’s sorcerers were humiliated. These lurking shadows, with power to frighten Pharaoh and wield authority in Egypt, were driven away by their boils in the last plague. Whatever threat they possessed was neutralized. They are never mentioned again. Egypt’s whole system of command and control is being decimated by these waves of judgment on Egypt. And the LORD explains what He is doing: "I am showing you My power so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth!" This is the whole point of the plague cycle. The LORD’s power is being shown in increasing magnitude. “The hail, rain, thunder and fire came as a barrage,” writes Phillip Ryken, “an opening of the arsenal of judgment to pour out his deadly wrath on Egypt.” So Pharaoh’s servants ask, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?" This judgment scene in the Old Testament serves as a preview of the all-out destruction that shall occur on the Last Day. As a hymn writer puts it, At His call the dead awaken, rise to life from earth and sea; all the pow'rs of nature, shaken by His looks, prepare to flee. Careless sinner, what will then become of thee? But to those who have confessed, loved and served the Lord below, He will say, "Come near, ye blessed, see the kingdom I bestow; you forever shall My love and glory know." Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the LORD’s goodness that ‘the free gift following many trespasses brought justification’ for all who believe in Jesus Christ! Ask the LORD to give you courage as you testify of the blessings which you have received through His grace to you! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 19 – God commands the animals to die and the dust to bring distress

“The LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.”And the LORD set a time, saying, "Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land." And the next day the LORD did this thing. – Exodus 9:4-6 Scripture reading: Exodus 9:1-12 God has an amazing way of getting His point across, doesn't He? He has said to Pharaoh, “You shall let my people go and you shall know that I am the LORD.” Now the signs and judgments are being displayed for all to see and they are steadily increasing in power and consequences until at last God will slay every firstborn of Egypt and then drown the remainder of the powerful of Egypt in the Red Sea! The LORD’s purpose in all this activity in Egypt was to make His name known among the nations and to bring His treasured people out of their bondage into the land of promise. Those two great purposes – to glorify God and restore the Israelites to the land of the promise – are on full display here. He strikes all the beasts of Egypt, but spares all that belonged to the Israelites. And then, the very dust which coated the Hebrew slaves from the brick kilns of their slavery is cast upon Pharaoh and his hosts and they are oppressed by these wretched boils. Even still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. One godly congregant wrote recently, “Pharaoh grieves me. He grieves me because his hardened heart and unwillingness to accept God’s sovereignty remind me so much of my sister. Her heart is hard towards Jesus and her will is unyielding to God’s sovereignty ... she and Pharaoh have too much invested in sovereignty over their own lives... Why doesn’t she see that lasting peace comes only from knowing Jesus?” (Cited in Phillip Ryken, Exodus, p 275) Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD’s message would be heard and received in faith by new generations. Pray that the LORD would give us greater joy in the news that lasting peace comes only from knowing Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 18 – God commands the dust and the flies to afflict Egypt

The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. – Exodus 8:18-19 Scripture reading: Exodus 8:16-32; Psalm 66 In the third and fourth plagues, the LORD chose small and seemingly trivial bugs to make a serious point: the Egyptians were being confronted by the LORD of heaven and earth. The gnats (or lice) were taken from the dust of the earth to afflict the Egyptians. The flies were taken from the skies to drive the Egyptians mad. These plagues testified that the LORD’s power was incredible. It’s almost amusing that the magicians – who had created snakes, blood, and frogs through their dark secret arts – are now stumped by the most insignificant of critters – the gnat! These demonically empowered men now confront the truth: “This is God’s doing!” But Pharaoh refuses to heed the Word of the LORD. He tries to trap the Hebrews by offering them a chance to make sacrifices in Egypt. He tries to twist God’s commands and keep the Hebrews in a place of compromised loyalty to God. Yet what do we see? Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh’s lies and attempts to cheat them. God was bringing the powers of Egypt to its knees and humbling every refuge, every so-called god that they turned to, by displaying His absolute power over them. Charles Spurgeon explains, “God’s demand is not that his people should have some little liberty, some little rest in their sin, no, but that they should go right out of Egypt... Christ did not come into the world merely to make our sin more tolerable, but to deliver us right away from it.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that our Father, as He instructs us as His children, gives us discernment to see the temptations which are placed in our path to turn aside from Him or to offer compromised sacrifices to Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 17 – God commands the frogs of the Nile to invade Egypt

Moses said to Pharaoh, "Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile." And he said, "Tomorrow." Moses said, "Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.” – Exodus 8:9-10 Scripture reading: Exodus 8:1-15 Surely a frog was nothing, right? Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Egyptians reverenced the goddess Heqet as the Egyptian goddess of childbirth. She was depicted with the head of a frog as a symbol of fertility. This is the false god that God attacked in this second plague. Heqet is undone through a sanity-stretching invasion. The frog goddess is toppled from a place of reverence and respect as the Egyptians begin to mutter every time they find another frog in their beds, their pots, their ovens and their kneading bowls. So Pharaoh cries out – he wanted relief, as one writer put it, from the punishment for sins, but not relief from sin itself. Pharaoh was coming to know about God through Moses but he was not prepared to come to God for deliverance from sin – Pharaoh wanted no part in salvation, just a respite from the plagues and these curious people. We look upon Pharaoh crying out for relief from one plague and we realize the powerful difference between a true cry of a repentant heart to the Servant of the Lord and the false cry of those who remain hardened in sin and unrighteousness. Only those who repent and believe in Jesus can find true relief and lasting peace with God! Let us cry out for deliverance to the One Who hears our cry and answers our request as we humble ourselves before Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the salvation of many in this world who are following false gods. Pray that your faith in Jesus would be strengthened as you cry out to Him in all of life’s troubles and hardships. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 16 – God commands the water to become blood

Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood.” – Exodus 7:17 Scripture reading: Exodus 7:14-25; Revelation 16:1-16 From the perspective of the pagan Egyptians, it made good sense to worship such a mighty natural force as the river Nile. The name given to the Nile River god was 'Hapi' and she was depicted as a mother who had given birth to Egypt. The fertility of Egypt depended on this great river which allowed life in the middle of the sands. After Moses and Aaron present the serpent-sign in Pharaoh’s presence they are told by God to meet Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. It is likely that Pharaoh was there for a religious ritual. What were they to do? “Go out to the place where Pharaoh interacts with one of his gods,” the Lord is saying, “and put that god to death by striking it with your staff.” It's a powerful one-two punch combo! Your royal serpent figure? Swallowed. Your powerful and life-sustaining river god? Defiled and dead. Say what you will, but God has an amazing way of getting his point across, doesn't He? No other god can save a people from the hand of the LORD. Judgment awaits every foe of God. What a precious gift it is to believe in the Son whose shed blood now cleanses and renews us.  And never forget Jesus’ testimony, “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.” Suggestion for prayer Pray for the blessing of the LORD for the ministry of His Gospel in all places around the world. Pray that many more would believe in Jesus and pass from death to life in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 15 – The Lord warns and Satan still tries to deceive Pharaoh

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. – Exodus 7:10-11 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-17; Exodus 7:8-13 Pharaoh and the Egyptians are about to be swallowed up by the might of the LORD God! The proof is directly in front of them. Pharaoh, represented by the vivid imagery of a cobra head poised and ready to strike, was confronted by a live snake on the ground before him which was poised and ready to strike. The serpent's appearance was a warning and a declaration of intent on God's part. And then the most deflating thing happened, didn't it? Through dark demonic powers, Pharaoh’s magicians did the same by their secret arts. The magicians and sorcerers bring into Pharaoh's presence another threatening force – poised to strike. TheSerpentmakes an appearance. In Revelation 12, the Prince of Darkness who rebelliously confronts the LORD is named as the ancient serpent. Satan, the deceiver, presents through these sorcerers an imitation of God's threat. Which threat would Pharaoh respond to? God threatens, “I will destroy you and swallow you up.” And in response, the prince of darkness responds with his own threat through these other sorcerers and magicians: “for each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents.” And Pharaoh thinks, “If you have one snake and my magicians have many snakes, I think I'll stick with them!” And then? “Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.” Don't you love that? God is superior to any challenger – and God's servants cannot be thwarted by the Serpent or by the powers that he gives to his followers. Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death and the evil one. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 14 – They shall all know that I am the Lord

Though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them. – Exodus 7:3-5 Scripture reading: Exodus 6:10-7:7 Up until now, the action in the book of Exodus has been more small-scale. Yes, the burning bush scene was quite something – but even that was a fiery scene witnessed by one man in the wilderness. Now we're at the doorstep and ready to dive into the ten plagues. Why did the LORD bring the plagues? He had previously explained this to Moses: “You shall know I am your God. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  In this chapter, we read that the signs and plagues will also be a testimony to the Egyptians who will come to acknowledge God’s supreme power over them. The mighty deeds of the LORD will be legendary! It’s disturbing, but unsurprising that we live in a time where many people ignore the truth that the LORD is sovereign over all. His might was displayed in Egypt and His saving purpose was foreshadowed in the events of the Exodus. The amazing impact of the good news of our salvation in Christ emerges when we remember that the LORD’s judgment of Egypt pales in comparison with the coming judgment for sin that shall take place on the last day. Yet, in Christ, every believer is assured that we have already undergone the judgment for sin because Jesus Christ has borne our judgment in His body on the cross! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy Father for graciously providing us with a Mediator Who was judged in our place. Ask Him to graciously open the hearts of our loved ones so that they may know that He is LORD and that He will save all who call out to Him in faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 13 – Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night (Jesus I come to Thee)

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. – Exodus 6:9 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:19-6:9 In John 12:46, Jesus declared, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” What wondrous news this is for sinners who need to be redeemed from the darkness! He came to bring the blessing of a new life to every believer. He came to bring us into a world of light in Him! The exodus from Egypt serves as a vivid preview of Jesus’ greater ministry to bring us out of a state of darkness and into the light of His presence. We do well to remember the dramatic change which the LORD brought to His people. As God said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do”. The LORD’s people were broken in spirit and burdened by harsh slavery. Their hope was fading. Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s command was emphatic. Their slavery was worse than before. What good could come out of this? Moses speaks in despair: “Since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." Our experience of hardship leaves such a mark on our faith. We begin to question God’s ability to actually help us. The LORD calls on us to look and see that His hand of deliverance has gone out to bring us from darkness into light! In the words of a familiar hymn: Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come! Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for rescuing you from the darkness of sin and bringing you into the light and joy of His presence. Ask Him for strength to overcome fear and despair as you remember that Christ has overcome all our enemies and shall soon return to bless us with everlasting life! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

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