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Daily devotional

April 13 - Jesus’ first word on the cross

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."- Luke 23:34 Scripture reading: Luke 23:18-34 Looking forward to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to spend the next several days looking at the seven words of Christ on the cross. My prayer is that you will find and experience great joy in hearing and understanding them. The spiritual leaders of Israel, in hatred and jealousy, brought charges of blasphemy and sedition against Jesus. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, cowardly washed his hands of this debacle. The Roman soldiers scornfully beat and mocked Jesus. Finally, they nailed Him to the cross between two criminals so that the sinless Son of God was, as Isaiah had prophesied, “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah53:12). Jesus didn’t rant and rave against His oppressors, He didn’t defend Himself against the injustice of it all. Instead, the first words from His lips are, “Father, forgive them.” Forgiveness. This is why Jesus came into the world – to forgive sins. When Joseph wondered what to do about Mary when she was pregnant, the angel reassured him and said, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” This first word of Christ on the cross brings great joy to sinners like you and me. We cannot out-sin His grace. And just as He interceded for the sinners of His day, so He continues to lovingly intercede for you and me today. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hallelujah! What a Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will forgive your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and give thanks that Jesus is your great High Priest Who continues to intercede for you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 12 - Jesus’ joy

But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. - John 17:13 Scripture reading: John 17:1-13 Jesus prayed that we would have His joy. What does that look like? How are we to understand His joy, much less experience it? First, Jesus’ joy is a holy joy. It is, if I may put it this way, a “serious” joy. It is not flippant. It is not showy or boisterous. It is not produced. It is the joy that results in being in fellowship with the Father. And that is precisely what Christ has accomplished for us – fellowship with the Father. He has the joy of that fellowship and prays that you and I may have the same joy. Second, when Jesus speaks of His joy, He is speaking of the joy that comes from Himself. As we’ve already seen, Jesus is the source of all joy. It is impossible to have true, lasting joy apart from Jesus. Third, Jesus’ joy is a joy completely independent of earthly circumstances. Jesus was about to be crucified and He knew it, but that didn’t affect His joy. He would soon be leaving His disciples in this world full of hatred, anger and murderous intent. Yet, He prayed that they would be more than conquerors filled to overflowing with His joy. And that is His prayer for you and me. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be able to know Jesus' joy in spite of your circumstances. Rejoice that though you were once alienated from God, in Christ you’ve been reconciled. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 11 - Joy in this world

But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.- John 17:13 Scripture reading: John 17:1-13 In John 17, just before His arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father with the disciples listening in. Often referred to as His High Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed several petitions for His followers. He was fully aware of what was about to transpire, yet one of His petitions was that the disciples would have His joy. In spite of His imminent crucifixion, Jesus had joy. There are some people who think that being a Christian is a joyless life in which you will miss out on all the fun. Or they say that whatever joy a Christian might experience will only be in the future. Satan, the father of lies, would have us think that we’re missing out. But that clearly isn’t Jesus’ position. Remember that Jesus had just said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus intentionally prayed this prayer in the disciples hearing so that they would have His joy immediately. Yes, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for them (and us), and our eternal existence in the “new heavens and the new earth” will be joyful beyond our imagining. But it isn’t only for that future that He has redeemed us. We are to enjoy the blessings of our redemption in this world as well as in the world to come. And one of those blessings is joy. The Christian is meant to be joyful today. Suggestions for prayer Be thankful that your future is one of joy unimaginable and pray that you will experience the true foretaste of that joy today. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 10 - The fruit of joy (ii)

…rejoice that your names are written in heaven. - Luke 10:20 Scripture reading: Luke 10:1-10 The reason that joy is a fruit of the Spirit is because the Spirit always brings us back to Jesus. When Jesus was comforting His disciples, He told them that after His departure, the Holy Spirit would come. He said, “He (the Spirit) will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is to reveal, to shine the light on Jesus. Where Jesus is preached, where Jesus is praised, where Jesus is glorified, there the Spirit is at work. And since Christ is the ultimate source of joy, joy is an inevitable fruit of the Spirit. We have a tendency to find joy in lesser things – our marriage, our work, sports and recreation, our children or grandchildren, etc. We might even find joy in “spiritual” things like our church, our teaching responsibilities or our serving as office-bearers. But even here Jesus sets us straight: Luke 10 tells us that Jesus sent out His followers on a mission and gave them extraordinary, miraculous powers. They went out into the villages and were able to heal diseases and cast out demons. When they returned to Jesus they were filled with joy because they were able to do all these things. But Jesus reoriented their focus and said, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that your pastor would faithfully preach Christ and Him crucified and give thanks that your name has been written in the Book of Life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 9 - The fruit of joy (i)

But the fruit of the Spirit is… joy…- Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-25 My family and I lived in Hawaii for seven years. We lived on the island of Kauai, nicknamed “The Garden Island.” In our backyard, we had a lime tree, an orange tree and a few banana trees. Every year, without fail, we enjoyed the fruit that those trees produced. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he used this same agricultural reality as a metaphor to describe the results of being in the Spirit. These are, as he calls them, “the fruit of the Spirit.” His list describes what I should expect to experience as a Christian and see in other Christians. Where the Holy Spirit is, these Spiritual characteristics, to some extent, will be present also. Paul’s list is not set forth in a loose and arbitrary way. There is a purposeful order and inter-connectedness. Love is the first fruit and out of love flows joy; and out of love and joy flows peace, etc. Joy is the disposition of one’s personality toward cheerfulness that is rooted in Christ. And since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, we may rightly conclude that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is not a grump – or a Scrooge, or a Grinch. He is God. And God is joyful. That is why, when the people in Nehemiah’s day wept over their sins, he comforted them with this very truth. He said, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah8:10b). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit’s fruit of joy would be present and growing in your life and repent if you’ve given the impression to others that the Spirit is a grump. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 8 - Joy in tribulation

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.- James 1:2 Scripture reading: James 1:1-8 Hardship in life is never fun, but we all have these “trials of various kinds.” Five and a half years ago, when my doctor informed me that I had cancer, my whole existence was jolted. After getting over the shock, I started thinking “I want to be at my children’s weddings” and “I want to hold my grandchildren.” I shed tears and wondered about my uncertain future. Five months later I underwent major surgery that removed the cancer. Thankfully, I have been “clean” ever since. But how can you “count it all joy” when you hear such news? Or when your child dies? Or when you lose your job? The unbeliever finds this incredible. Instead of joy, he will get angry at life. Or she will drown her pain in drugs or alcohol. But the child of God knows that nothing happens by chance, but everything comes from God’s fatherly hand. God’s purposes are always for our good (Romans 8:28). They are productive, not destructive, moulding us into the image of Christ. When you experience trials, it isn’t bad luck. Rather, God is working to make you beautiful – your dross to consume and your gold to refine. During those five months of uncertainty about my health, God strengthened my heart. Far from shaking my fist at God, by His grace, I rested in His goodness and faithfulness. The faith that I had always professed was confirmed and that has brought me unspeakable joy. Why? Because “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that when the Lord sends trials in your life, He will confirm your faith and that your joyful response to hardships will be an encouragement to others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 7 - Worship with gladness

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! - Psalm 100:2 Scripture reading: Psalm 100:1-6 Since joy in our salvation carries over to joy in all God’s blessings, it is not surprising that when the psalmist writes about worship he often includes joy. Throughout the Psalms, God’s people are often instructed to lift up their voices in praise. Think, for example, of how often the word “Hallelujah” is used in the Psalms. Psalms 113-118 are called the “Hallel” Psalms and the final five Psalms (146-150) all end with the same word, “Hallelujah.” Hallelujah means “Let us praise the Lord.” It seems to me that joy is an essential ingredient in praise. Praise is the believer’s joyful response to who God is and what He has done. I cannot help but wonder what is happening in a person’s heart when we begin worship with singing that great hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and it looks as though he or she is singing about their next dentist appointment. I cannot judge such a thing, but it appears as though there’s little praise going on. When you gather for worship, are you “serving the Lord with gladness?” To praise the Lord with joy does not mean that the Christian never experiences sorrow or pain. In fact, true repentance means there is a real sorrow for our sins. But even so, the believer’s sorrow should never be separated from the conviction that, as the hymn writer so beautifully penned, “It is well with my soul.” Christ has overcome and I am His. That conviction cannot help but overflow into joyful praise! Suggestions for prayer Pray that as you worship today, your worship would be a sincere response of joyful praise to God who is worthy, and that not only you, but your church congregation would have the reputation of worshipping the Lord with gladness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 6 - Joy in God’s revelation

In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches… I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget Your Word.- Psalm 119:14,16 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:1-16 While joy in our salvation in Christ is the fountain, that joy naturally carries over to all the blessings we have in Christ. The Christian’s joy is multi-faceted. We find joy in the reality that we’ve been saved and justified in Christ Jesus, but as a result, we find joy in all aspects of Christian life. We recognize that because we are in Christ, all that we are and have are blessings from God. These increase our joy. And one of those blessings is His Word. The Psalmist in Psalm 119 delights in God’s Word. God’s Word always has been and continues to be a source of joy to God’s people. Meditating on God’s written revelation will bring joy to the Christian. But what is it about the Word of God that causes the Psalmist, and us, to delight in it? First, the primary purpose of God’s Word is to reveal to us the way of salvation. After Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis3:15). The rest of the Bible tells us how God has fulfilled that promise, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Second, the Bible is the clearest revelation of God. In God’s Word, God tells us about Himself. Third, the Bible instructs us on the kind of life that is pleasing to God. We delight in God’s Word because our natural reaction to our supernatural salvation from God is to love Him and live for Him. And God’s Word tells us what that looks like. Suggestions for prayer Pray that when you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit would open your mind and heart to understand and thatGod’s Word would be your delight. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 5 - Joy in the God of my salvation

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. - Habakkuk 3:18b Scripture reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19 When the Bible speaks of our joy, we discover that it is the Christian’s response to all the blessings we have from God. But the wellspring, the fount of joy is our salvation in Jesus Christ. For example, James instructs us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2). But we cannot be joyful in our trials apart from our salvation in Christ. In Psalm 119 the Psalmist says that he delights in God’s Word, in God’s commands and in God’s testimonies. But we cannot find joy in God’s revelation without being in Christ. At the end of Luke’s gospel, just after Jesus’ ascension, we read that His disciples “worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). But we cannot worship joyfully apart from being in Christ. Habakkuk was a prophet during very difficult days. In the short, Old Testament book of Habakkuk the prophet raises complaints to God about the sorry state of affairs in Judah. He is burdened because God seems to be indifferent to the appalling spiritual condition of His people (Habakkuk 1:2-4). But after God answers his complaints, Habakkuk responds with those beautiful words, “I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Is that your joy? God sent His only begotten Son to save you. He is the God of your salvation. Do you take joy in Him? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would impress on you His great love for you. So great is His love that He gave Jesus to be your salvation. Pray that your joy would be evident and recognized by others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 4 - Joy & peace

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.- John 16:33 Scripture reading: John 16:25-33 Being a Christian does not mean you become immune to the hardships of life. Anyone who’s lived long enough knows that we suffer pain and sickness, financial hardships, death of family or friends, inter-personal conflicts and are scorned by the world for holding Biblical convictions. Granted, there are some false teachers that preach a “health and wealth” gospel, but they didn’t learn that from Jesus. He made it clear that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute His followers. And, in the passage above, He says, “in this world you will have tribulation.” Not “might have,” but “will have.” But Jesus then says “take heart.” Do not wallow in your hardships. Do not despair. Take heart! He isn’t saying “just grin and bear it.” He tells us that He has overcome the world. The hurts and pains we experience are temporary. As Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Why? Because Christ has overcome the world and He will make all things new. This truth affords the Christian a “peace that passes understanding” because by faith the Christian can see beyond the present circumstances. And that, in turn, brings great joy to the believer. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would remove the hardships, or reconcile the conflicts in your life and that if it is His will to allow these to remain, you will trust in the future grace of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 3 - Abide in me

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.- John 15:11 Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 In chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel, Jesus is alone with His disciples in the upper room. These chapters are often referred to as “The Upper Room Discourse” because in them our Lord teaches and speaks words of comfort to His beloved disciples. In the middle of that discourse, Jesus tells the disciples, and us, that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, He says, we can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, we cannot bear fruit. Apart from Jesus, we are nothing but withering branches, only good for being “gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (v. 6). So Jesus lovingly instructs and encourage us to abide in Him. Only then will we thrive, bear fruit and live. Only then will we know the joy that Jesus promises. As we focus our attention this month on Christian joy, I want to impress on you that it is only by abiding in Christ that we can and will have joy. Romance will not bring lasting joy. Recreation and sports cannot offer lasting joy. Politics and governments cannot bring you joy. Only by abiding in Christ will you have joy. Why? Because He is the ultimate and only source of joy! To abide in Jesus means that you believe the good news of the gospel. It means that you are resting in and trusting in His righteousness, not your own. It means that you humbly embrace His atonement on your behalf – so that your joy may be full. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would truly believe and know the comfort and joy of belonging to Jesus and that we would bear fruit for Christ’s glory and our neighbor’s good. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 2- Tidings of comfort and joy

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… – Romans 3:21-23 Scripture reading: Romans 3:9-26 Yesterday I began by saying: “I want to live in joy, and I want to die in joy.” And we saw that Jesus is the only true source of joy. But Jesus lived over 2000 years ago. How can my joy in 2019 have anything to do with Jesus? The Heidelberg Catechism is a summary of biblical teaching and begins by asking the question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer can be summarized: “That I belong to Jesus.” But notice what the second question asks: “What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?” Then it lists three things. That is, if you desire (as I do) to live in joy and to die in joy, you need to know and understand these things: First, that I am a sinner. And not only am I a sinner, but I have no hope of earning or meriting God’s favor on my own. Because I am a sinner, I deserve only God’s punishment. Second, that God in love sent His only begotten Son to save sinners like me. There is no other Saviour but Jesus Christ and I am trusting in His salvation. Third, that my gratitude is the inevitable response to God’s grace in Christ. This gratitude is not only a feeling, but shows itself in a life of obedience to God’s will. When you know, understand and believe those three things, you will have joy. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a deeper appreciation for the gospel. Pray that the gospel will be the pillar and foundation of your church’s ministry. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

April 1 – Good news of great joy

Introduction April's theme is “The Christian's Joy.”Joy is the possession of every child of God. The triune God is a God of joy and the source of joy to all who trust in Him. In Deuteronomy 16:15 Moses told the children of Israel: “The Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” Jesus told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). And the second fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is “joy.” This means that those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells will possess, to some extent, joy. This month we explore this great blessing given us by God. We will distinguish between true Christian joy, which is lasting, and the fleeting “joy” of this world. We will look at what is the basis of this joy, focusing on Christ’s atonement, His words on the cross and His resurrection. And we will consider those things that hinder our joy and how God graciously restores our joy. May God bless you abundantly as you study His Word this month and may you be strengthened because“the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). **** Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.- Luke 2:10-11 Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-14 I want to live in joy and I want to die in joy. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in this world who does not want the same thing. Joy is a desirable thing. Granted, there are people who seem to thrive on difficulty and even wallow in their unhappiness. To use a modern description, their lives have far too much drama. But I think it’s fair to say that even so, they would prefer a life of joy over their difficulties if they could find it. When the angel spoke to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, he said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). So it isn’t surprising that when we celebrate Christ’s birth we often see and use the word “JOY.” We find it in our decorations, on the front of Christmas cards, in our church bulletins, even on store windows. Why? Because joy and Jesus are inseparable! The good news that the angel told was joyful news; more than that, it was news of GREAT joy. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. He came on a rescue mission and He accomplished it. This means that if you desire joy, believe in and cling to Jesus. You simply will not find joy anywhere else. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit would use this month’s devotions to increase your joy. Pray for friends or loved ones that you know who seem to lack joy. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) in Littleton, Colorado....

Daily devotional

March 31 - Be firm in your faith! 

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. - 1 Peter 5:9-10 Scripture reading: James 4 What is your protection against your adversary, the devil? Your faith! To resist him means to refuse to submit to him and let him direct your life. Remember, the words that Jesus spoke to Peter before his denial: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). Why did Peter’s faith not fail? Jesus prayed for Him. Why does your faith not fail? Jesus is also praying for you! Why is faith so important here? Because Satan directs his attacks to destroy your faith in Christ. Suffering is one of the ways he uses to raise doubts in your mind concerning the reliability of God. When we suffer we think we are alone. This is not the case. Many others have endured the same kinds of trials and have been able to persevere in the faith because the Lord was there with them. Any suffering you experience is limited to what God will allow in your life. As a God of all grace, is there anything too difficult for Him to help you with? He is the God who has called you to eternal glory in Christ! What you have in Christ far outweighs what you lack here on earth. As you attend church today, think about the sufficiency of your Saviour. He Himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the gift of faith and that Jesus is making intercession so that our faith will not fail. Ask the Lord to help you resist the devil, to be firm in your faith, so that you will overcome him through the grace God gives to you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 30 - Your adversary 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8 Scripture reading: Zechariah 3 You have an adversary, one who strives against you: an enemy. One of the main reasons we have anxieties and cares is because of this enemy. The word Satan means adversary, and the word devil means the accuser, the slanderer. Peter gives two imperatives concerning this adversary. Be sober-minded; be watchful. To be sober-minded means to have self-control and to not allow this enemy to influence you. Rather, always be under the direction and control of the Lord your God. To be watchful means to be awake, always aware, and to never be off your guard. Always be aware of your weaknesses and don’t let this enemy get the better of you because of them. How does Peter describe him? He compares the devil to a lion that is hungry looking for prey that he can devour. There is one that is actually hunting you, one who is stalking you without your knowledge, hoping to devour and destroy your faith in Christ. He has slandered and tried to destroy others in the past, (one example is Joshua in Zechariah 3), and he will continue to do so in the present and into the future until Christ returns. According to the context, there are two ways the devil tries to attack us. Satan seeks to puff up our pride, trying to convince us we do not need God and he tries to get us to believe God does not care for us. Do not let this enemy get the better of you! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we can flee to Christ when the devil comes to accuse and attack us. Ask the Lord to help you heed these warnings and to be diligent and watchful especially when we feel weak in our faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 29 - He cares for you 

...casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 55 Verse 7 is governed by the verb in the previous verse. This means that humility is not just a negative lowering of oneself, but rather an active reliance or trust in God Who is able to handle our burdens, anxieties and cares. Peter literally means to throw or fling all your anxieties on the Lord. What kind of image does this make in your mind? This reminds me of when I was young and I used to chop wood for our family wood stove. I needed to carry the cut wood into the shed, so I would pick up each stick one by one until I had a big load in my arms. Well, I didn’t take the wood off one by one like I did when I picked them up. What did I do? It was a heavy load, so I threw them down on the pile as quickly as I could! This is just like us. We pick up our cares one by one and each time we add something we get weighed down just as if that heavy load of wood is in our arms. It’s very difficult to take those burdens off one by one. What does the Lord tell you to do with all your cares, burdens, and anxieties? Throw them off yourself and down on Him! Let Him bear the full weight of them all! He is willing because He cares for you. Are you willing to  "Cast your burden on the LORD" (Psalm 55:22)? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He cares for you and wants to help you with your burdens. Ask the Lord to enable you to cast your cares upon Him and not just bear them on your own. Thank the Lord that we can truly have rest for our souls in Christ (Matt. 11:28). This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 28 - Are you humble? (2) 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. - 1 Peter 5:6 Scripture reading: Proverbs 11 Peter continues his teaching on humility in verse 6. He tells us to humble ourselves so that God may exalt us. Pride can be viewed as dependence or confidence in oneself. A person may think he is fully independent of others and self-sufficient. Is this true? Are we completely self-sufficient without any dependence on others? The reality is, no matter where we are in life, we do rely on others. We all appreciate family, friends, employers, customers, retail workers, doctors and nurses and the list goes on. Think about all the people you rely on each day to make your life better and easier. We are not truly alone. There is One Who is actually in your life whether you recognize it or not. The Lord directs all of your affairs by an all-wise Providence. You don’t live in a chance world. Peter brings us to the place where we need to recognize God working in our lives. Humility is having a full dependence on and confidence in God. This verse could be translated allow yourselves to be humbled, under the mighty hand of God. We must permit ourselves to be humbled. We must consent to let God take control. We must surrender to His will as He knows what is best for us. His hand is mighty and powerful. He breaks the power of sin and pride and molds us to be like Christ by His Spirit. He will exalt us in due time. Will you allow yourself to be humbled? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord He is faithful and powerful so that we can truly depend upon Him. Praise the Lord that when we humbly submit to Him, He will exalt us in His perfect time. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Are you humble? (1) 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. - 1 Peter 5:5-6 Scripture reading: Philippians 2 How important is humility? According to Peter very important! Pride not only hurts our relationship with God, but also our relationship with others. How many friendships and marriages have been damaged or ruined over hurtful or angry words? How many families and workplaces have been divided by resentment and bitterness? How many reputations have been ruined through jealousy and hateful gossip? How true are the words, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). Do you have a humble spirit or have you allowed pride to impact your relationship with your spouse? Family member? Co-worker? Even Christ Himself? Peter declares, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."How can we clothe ourselves with humility? The term clothe refers to a servant’s garment or apron that would be worn over other clothing and tied so that it would stay tightly fixed to the body. Peter’s imperative here is that humility must be part of us like a garment tightly wrapped around the body so it can’t fall off. This garment is to be on all the time and never removed. Humility is essential in the Christian life. Just as Paul taught when he said in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Why do this? "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." How important is humility to you? Suggestions for prayer Give praise to God; He is willing to give His grace to the humble. If you struggle with pride, ask the Lord to grant you grace and help today so that you can repent of this sin and come to Him with humility and faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 26 - Biblical leadership  

So I exhort the elders among you,… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. - 1 Peter 5:1-3 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5; Titus 1 What makes for a spiritually healthy church? I could list many things that would contribute to the health of a church, but the most important is a strong dedication to the Word of God as our only authority for faith and practice. What makes a strong dedication to God’s Word happen? The answer is strong leadership. Most churches stand firm or fall with the quality of their leadership. Of course, leaders can’t fulfill their calling without supportive and spiritually minded members of the church. Both leaders and members must be Biblically minded and work together in humility with a desire to serve Christ so that the church can grow and flourish. Even though this text is directed towards elders, it should speak to all of us to recognize the importance of Biblical leadership in the church. The primary task of the elder is to shepherd the flock of God. Like the Good Shepherd, this means he is to pray for, guide, care for and nurture the church which is Christ’s flock. He is to exercise spiritual oversight over the church to ensure the faithful preaching of God’s Word and that the purity of the Word, the sacraments, the doctrines and holiness of life are maintained. This is a calling he accepts willingly and reverently and not for shameful gain or benefit. He is not to abuse his authority and be domineering, harsh or arrogant, but to be an example of Christ. May the Lord give us strong Biblical leadership! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will give us Biblical and faithful elders and pastors to lead Christ’s church on earth and pray for and support the leaders the Lord has called to have oversight in His church. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 25 – Are you prepared?

...but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. - 1 Peter 3:15 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-17 It can be very challenging to share your faith in Christ with others and there are many questions we can ask ourselves. Will I say the right things? Will I be able to explain the gospel correctly? Was I sincere? Or, why couldn’t I remember that verse, it was perfect?! We can play mental gymnastics before, during and after witnessing to someone. Many feel uncomfortable talking to others about Christ. They can be afraid of rejection, of looking foolish or of offending others of a different faith. Yet, our aim should always be to share our Saviour with a lost world (Mark 16:15-16). We must always remember, we are not in the business of converting people; that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are in the business of planting the good seed of God’s Word in the hearts of others. We leave it to the Lord to apply His Word to hearts and give the growth (1Corinthians 3:7). Peter tells us, as those who are dedicated to Christ by true faith, to always be prepared to make a defense of the reason for our Christian hope at any time. You share real hope every time you speak to someone about Christ, a hope that has a foundation, a hope that has a real future, a hope that will not disappoint! Know the truths of God’s Word and pray for the Spirit’s help so that you will always be ready to share your hope. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord He revealed Christ to us and that we were enabled to come to Him in repentance and faith for our salvation. Pray that we will be able to share this hope we have in Christ with others. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

March 24 - Who can really harm you? 

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. - 1 Peter 3:13-14 Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-39 Today is a day of worship and praise. As we spend time in God’s house, we are reminded that living for Christ by His Word and Spirit is always best. However, you are not guaranteed that living a godly life and doing good will always be received with recognition and kindness from others in return. The reality is that here in North America we may never face persecution at the level that people have in other parts of the world like North Korea, the MiddleEast, or China (to name just a few). Yet, when you try to talk to someone about the Lord or even do good and act kindly to someone, their response may not be positive at all. We must recognize that our society is becoming more antagonistic and hostile toward Christ and the gospel. This is true whether we are facing torture for our faith or whether we’re just nervous about the thought of telling someone about Christ. Peter asks the question, "Who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?" If we have a passion for Christ and we are dedicated to serving Him, who can really harm us?  Paul told us if God is for us who can be against us (Romans 8:31) and that all things happen for our good (Romans 8:28). God’s sovereignty and protection help us not to be fearful or troubled. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Suggestions for prayer Be thankful to spend this day in worship to our covenant God. Praise Him that Christ enables us to be blessed even in our suffering. Ask the Lord to give you grace and peace through His Word in those times when you do have fear and feel troubled. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

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