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Daily devotional

Monday August 6 - The Mediator of re-creation

...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. - Colossians 1:20 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:18-20 The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the source of our being able to live a life worthy of our being in Him because He is the mediator of creation, but also because He is the mediator of re-creation. This mediation is necessary because we have alienated ourselves from the Lord Jesus Christ with our fall into sin. And creation was subjected to futility because of this (Romans 8:20). Thus, both we and creation need to be reconciled to the mediator of creation. The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ gives the mediator of creation to the church so that He can be its mediator of re-creation by reconciling both the church and creation to Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ accomplishes this as the Head of the church, the One who brings the church into existence and keeps it in existence by giving life to its members, by ruling them through His Word and Spirit, and by holding them together. Having reconciled His body and His creation to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross, He was the first one to rise from the dead with a glorified, immortal body, guaranteeing the general resurrection of the dead of all those who were in Him, through faith. Because of this work of re-creation, the mediator of creation continues to have the first place in God’s universe. He is more than able and also willing to be the source of your being able to live a life worthy of your being in Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to look to your mediator of creation and re-creation when you struggle with being able to live a life worthy of your being in Christ, and that He would encourage you in doing so. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Sunday August 5 - The Mediator of Creation

For in him all things were created, . . . all things were created through him and for him and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 16 and 17b Scripture reading: Colossians 1:15-17 If Christians want to live a life worthy of Christ, they need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ like a garment and live in Him through faith, remain in Him when they encounter trials and mature in Him through faith. He is the source of their being able to live a life worthy of being in Him because He is the mediator of creation. He is able to be this mediator of creation because He is the firstborn of all creation. Accordingly, all things—whether visible or invisible—were created in Him, because the light and life needed to create all things resided in Him. Moreover, all things were also created through Him. He, who has light and life in Himself, creates light and life. Furthermore, He also holds all things together. We and creation do not live in an empty space, but in the Lord Jesus Christ who continues to uphold and sustain creation and us. This is what it means that the Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator of creation. Everything was created from Him and through Him and He holds everything that He created together. And He does so because everything was created for Him. Our destiny and creation’s destiny is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the will of the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ that one day all things will be summed up and reunited in Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank your heavenly Father that, because everything is created from Him and through Him and to Him, He is able to be the source of your living a life worthy of being in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Saturday August 4 - Living in a manner worthy of the Lord

... so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; - Colossians 1:10  Scripture reading: Colossians 1:9-14 As members of the body of Christ, Christians, through their union with Christ, have been redeemed and qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light of the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, they have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light. Through the bond of the Holy Spirit, they are already seated with Christ in heaven (Ephesians 2:6). Because Christians are in Christ, they need to live a life worthy of Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. This means that, through faith, they need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ like a garment and live in Him, remain in Him when they encounter trials, and mature in Him, for He is the source of being able to live a life worthy of being in Him. When they do, He will be pleased with them. For this, we need to be filled with the knowledge of the will of the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. While we cannot know His will exhaustively, God can fill us with adequate knowledge of what He wants us to believe and how He wants us to live, i.e. having spiritual wisdom and understanding as we live and have our being in the Scriptures. The more we are filled with this, the more we will find ourselves leading a life worthy of being in Christ. Paul regularly prays this for the Colossian Christians. Are you praying this for yourself and your congregation? Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to fill you with knowledge of His will so that you and your congregation can live lives worthy of being in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Friday August 3 - The fruit of hope

... because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. - Colossians 1:5 Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-25 Why do you continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and participate in His ministry of love? According to Paul, we do this because as members of the body of Christ, we have the hope that all things will be made new when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Then we will no longer groan because of the brokenness of our human condition, but we will receive glorified bodies. Creation will also no longer groan because of its bondage to corruption, but share in our glorified state by being glorified itself. We wait for the fulfillment of this hope with patience, while creation waits with eager longing for the fulfillment of our hope. Because we have this hope, we continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that only through being joined to Him, through faith, will we experience the fulfillment of this hope. Anyone who does not abide in the Lord Jesus Christ is thrown into the fire and burned. Having this hope, we continue to love because we know that even if we have faith that can remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing. Moreover, we want to give others a foretaste of the life of the new heaven and earth by participating in Jesus’ ministry of love today. When people hear that you are a Christian, is this what they hear about you: you are a person of faith, hope and love? When they hear that you belong to a Christian congregation, is this what they hear about your congregation: your congregation is a congregation of faith, hope and love? Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to make you and your congregation known to your environment as people of faith, love and hope. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Thursday August 2 - The fruit of faith

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints... - Colossians 1:3-4 Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 Faith unites us to the Lord Jesus Christ so that we share in His fellowship of love with His Father. When we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for our rescue from the power, pollution, partition and penalty of sin, we take hold of Him and put Him on, so that we are no longer clothed in our unrighteousness, but clothed in Him and His righteousness. We are no longer our own, but belong to Him and share in His fellowship of love with His Father. We are adopted into the Father’s family and are loved with the same love with which the Father loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith also unites us to the Lord Jesus Christ so that we share in His ministry of love from His Father that He carries out through His body, His church. The Lord Jesus speaks about this with the metaphor of the vine and the branches, saying that if we want to bear the fruit of love, we need to abide in Him through faith. When we do, the mystery of love will take place in our lives much like the mystery of grapes growing on a vine. As we live in Christ through faith, the Lord Jesus Christ transforms us into His image as He reproduces His life in our lives through His Holy Spirit so that we become His eyes, ears and mouth, His hands and feet in this world. This is what it means to be His body on earth. Paul had heard about this fruit of faith of the Colossians. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to unite you to His Son through faith so that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Wednesday August 1 - Introduction, and the fruit of love

This month’s meditations will focus on Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, He withdrew Himself from our three-dimensional experience of reality and ascended into another dimension of God’s created reality known as heaven. While the disciples saw the Lord Jesus ascend, they did not see him enter into heaven for the cloud of God’s glory took Him out of their sight. Since His ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ is hidden in the glory of His Father and glorified together with Him. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only hidden in the glory of the Father, Christians are also hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father (3:3). As the expression “in Christ” so also the expression “with Christ” shows that we participate in the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We participate in what He did in the past, what He is doing in the present and what He will do in the future. We died and arose with Him, we ascended with Him in glory and we will appear with Him in glory. This participation with Christ is a hidden reality, as is the reality of our life being hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father. That the source of our life is hidden with Christ in the Father is not visible to others. It is also not visible to ourselves. We need to believe this. In a sense, Colossians is all about the different facets of the hidden reality of our real life and true existence: our life being hidden with Christ in the glory of the Father. That’s why I have entitled the series Hidden with Christ in God. I enjoyed writing these meditations. I was edified in doing so. I hope and pray that you will be too. *****  We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints... – Colossians 1:3-4 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 13 When people hear that you are a Christian, what do they hear about you? When they hear that you belong to a Christian congregation, what do they hear about your congregation? If we were to ask Paul this question about the church of Colossae, what would he say? What had he heard about its members? What had he heard about the congregation? Paul had not planted this church. Epaphras had planted it. At the moment of writing, Paul is in prison in Caesarea. What did he hear about the church in Colossae while he is waiting to be transferred to Rome? What set this congregation and its members apart from its pagan environment? Paul had heard about their love for each other. The pagan world in which the members of the congregation lived was marked by lust, anger and lies that split up families and other communities. The Christian church, however, was marked by love that united families and the church community. Even major differences, such as race, social background and culture no longer drove a wedge between the members of the church. This did not mean that everyone had good feelings toward one another. They may have. But it meant that when others were rude, they were kind. When others offended them, they forgave. When others rejected them, they accepted them. This is ultimately what the Christian faith is about, as the summary of the law the Lord Jesus taught us. If we do not have this love, we are really nothing according to 1 Corinthians 13. Suggestions for prayer Ask your heavenly Father to pour out His love in you through His Holy Spirit so that others may experience His love in and through you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 31 - Christ's ascension

Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven… - Luke 24:50-53 Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11 By faith, we are united with the Lord Jesus, also when He ascends into heaven and returns to be with God the Father. That’s where He lives and that’s where our house will be also. Just as the High Priest left when entering the Holy of Holies, bearing the names of God’s people on his breastplate, the ephod, so Jesus enters the heavenly dwelling place of God, bearing on His heart the names of those the Father had given Him. And just as the High Priest would bless the LORD’s people after having made atonement for their sins, so the Lord Jesus ascends into heaven blessing His disciples, the apostles and foundation of His Christian Church. This ascension happened in a field near Bethany to signify that now the whole earth was forecourt of the heavenly sanctuary. Heaven and earth were united in Jesus Christ the High Priest, Lord of lords and King of kings! Upon His return from heaven, He will cleanse the earth from everything unholy! In anticipation of this return, we now continue in our service to Him, wherever our place, whatever our calling. Over all His children and over every work in His service, we may see His blessing hands. Meanwhile, He will guide us from heaven and will gather, defend and preserve His Church by His Spirit and Word, sending us into service under the weekly blessing of His High Priestly Blessing as commanded in Numbers 6:22-27! With the disciples, therefore, we too may leave our worship service to Him, rejoicing! Suggestions for prayer Pray to Christ, our Intercessor, in every situation of your life, for every need in your service, thanking Him for His blessings! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Monday July 30 - Jesus and the beloved apostle

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?" - John 21:20-23 Scripture reading: Psalm 23 Peter had just heard what consequences his following of the Lord Jesus could have. Then, when he saw John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, he wondered what the future would be for him. Would he have to experience the same suffering in his service to the Lord? The Lord Jesus tells him that this should be of no concern to him. Imagine that the Lord Jesus would tell him that John’s way would be much easier, or that John will stay alive till Jesus’ return… What would Peter’s reaction be to such a message? Would he think, "Why such a hard service for me, while he won’t need to die for the faith?" Isn’t that a common human reaction when people compare their own path of life through trouble with the easy way of others? The Lord Jesus clearly indicates to Peter that this is none of his business! Jesus determines each one’s way. It’s a good thing we don’t know what the future will bring. Besides, come what may, the Lord will lead and guide and strengthen us anyway! "You follow me!" Jesus’ reply regarding John has been interpreted in various ways, even in the understanding that he wouldn’t die, but live till Christ’s return. That’s not what Jesus said though; if he would have wanted him to live until He returns, that would not be Peter’s business. Peter will have to go and accept his own way and leave the way of others to the Lord. Come what may, just go your way in the Lord; you’re in His hand! Suggestions for prayer Pray for Christ's continued work of gathering His Church. Pray for His office bearers. Pray that His people may accept His way with their life, entrusting themselves to His will by faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 29 - Peter's restoration in office

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” he said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time…, a third time… - John 21:15-19 Scripture reading: John 21:15-19 The Lord Jesus is preparing Himself for His ascension when He has to leave the care for His sheep to His apostles. They would have to go out to preach the gospel and become the foundation of the New Testament church of Christ. The question was whether Peter would be able to do so? Those who wish to serve in Christ’s Church should be unconditionally devoted to Him. If they would serve themselves, seek their own honour, or do their work in a self-designed way, they could not be office-bearer in Christ’s service. He demanded love unequivocally! Would Peter be able to do so, given his three-fold denial, due to self-service and fear of detection? The three-fold question of the Lord Jesus, “Do you love me more than these?” must have been hard on this disciple who had always expressed his love clearly. This time, however, his response is humble and sincere! Christ knows that his reply is sincere. Hence, He can restore His disciple in his office as under-shepherd and entrust to him His lambs. It will be a difficult task, one that can be completed only in true and deep love for the Saviour! It will be a hard job for Peter especially; the Lord Jesus foretells him that it will cost him his life! His Master died on the cross for him and this servant will have to take up his cross as well, figuratively and physically! In his love for the Saviour, he will be able to complete it to His glory! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a true love in Christ’s service, for loving leaders in the Church. Ask for courage to endure and be faithful. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Saturday July 28 - The report of the guard

Tell people, "His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep." And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. - Matthew 28:11-15 Scripture reading: Matthew 28:1-10 On the morning of the resurrection, there were many witnesses who could testify of Christ’s resurrection: men, women, and even the Roman guard. These Roman soldiers went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. Their report agreed with the facts that was broadcast by the disciples who had heard the angels or even seen their Risen Lord. This should have rung a bell with the leaders, to whom Christ had promised just one sign: the sign of Jonah the prophet – as Jonah was three days in the belly of the fish so He would be three days in the belly of the earth… and then rise! They cannot believe this. Their own theology and theories about Jesus are more credible than the Word of God! Today, we meet with this kind of unbelief time and again. Man’s theories must be believed. The truth of God’s Word about creation, or women in office, doesn’t agree with new theology or with today’s culture. The truth, as revealed, has been declared obsolete, or must be re-interpreted with new rules for understanding the Scriptures. The Sanhedrin must have believed their own theory, or deemed it better for the church than the report of the guard. Today, still, we must heed Paul’s words when he calls us to be saved from this crooked generation, and Peter’s call to faith in a world where the lie is on the throne! Let us submit ourselves faithfully and in childlike confidence trust in the Word of God and the promises of our Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray for faith in the Word of God, in the promises of salvation. Pray for the faithful proclamation of God’s Word tomorrow. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Friday July 27 - Remember His words: "Christ has risen!"

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you…" – Luke 24:5-8 Scripture reading: Luke 24:1-12 Believers don’t always listen well to the Saviour and easily forget His words. Those who went to the grave on the morning of the resurrection did not go to verify His words, but in their fear and sadness, only thought of loss and death. Jesus had told them repeatedly that He would have to suffer and die for their sins; He also told them that He would rise on the third day. In the sight of a tomb and the reality of death, these words seemed unreal…! What are they to do with a dead Jesus; what would we do if our Saviour were still dead? It is wonderful when we are reminded of His Word, just as those women were reminded. We know that we have a living Saviour! That’s hard to accept when everything on earth speaks of death and destruction, of loss and lives without loved ones. It is hard to believe that He is the living Saviour, Who comforts us and speaks to us every time we open God’s Word! Are we focused only on our grief and losses, or are we looking to Him Who died for us and rose again? Do we see Him in our life, in the church, in the gathering of believers, in His work with Spirit and Word in this world? Do we see Him as the ascended Lord in heaven from where He reigns over all things? Thankfully, there were angels to tell the women on the day of the resurrection, and thankfully, ministers tell us today! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a believing heart and an open mind when we read God’s Word and hear the preaching. Ask for comfort too! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Thursday July 26 - The graves were opened

The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised… – Matthew 27:52-53 Scripture reading: Matthew 27:45-56 Christ’s death on the cross was an earth-quaking event, shaking the foundations of the earth, but also breaking up the old effects of sin, even making an end to death. We can see the significance of the moment Christ yielded up His spirit! In the temple, the veil was rent from top to bottom, God making an end to Old Testament worship and establishing New Testament communion with those who seek their life in Christ. God was going to make all things new! He also signified this by the resurrection of those who had died and appeared in the city as evidence of Christ’s resurrection and its powerful effect of the restoration of life! Not everyone was raised, not even all the saints; yet, there were those, who belonged to Jesus before their death, who were raised to announce the beginnings of new life and of the resurrection from the dead of those who belonged to Jesus! They were a living testimony that Jesus, with His death, had conquered death. Christ was the first-born of the dead and their resurrection was a fruit of Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s death was not only earth quaking, it also shook up the realm of the dead. Those who belong to Jesus will live, though they still have to die (to sin); they will live and reign with Christ forever. They share in the first resurrection, even though their bodies are resting in the earth. What great incentive for our sanctification today, for the renewal of life, as the beginning of eternal life! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a new heart, a new life and for the help of the Holy Spirit in our daily sanctification. Ask for comfort and strength if you are living with the empty place of a loved one who has died. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Wednesday July 25 – "Not one of His bones will be broken"

For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken.” - John 19:36 Scripture reading: John 19:28-37 God was working toward the eternal Sabbath when He restored the day of rest. On the day of Passover, God established the rest which Israel could enjoy once they arrived in Canaan. This rest was obtained by the Passover lamb, initially, and would be fulfilled by the Lamb of God, the Messiah. On the Sabbath that came after that Good Friday of Golgotha, the Jews did not accept the fulfillment of this promised rest in the death of the Lamb of God. They were focussed on the Man on the cross Whose body they had to remove so their Sabbath would not be defiled. Hence, they asked Pilate if this death could be hastened. If only they had listened closely to God’s Passover requirements for the proper Lamb; namely that His bones should not be broken! If only they had made the connection with Jesus as the Lamb of God, Whose bones did not need to be broken since He had died already (surprisingly!). If only they had seen God in the fulfilment of His Word in Psalm 34, they would have shared in the rest He had established! They did not believe and were blinded by their hatred of Him and their unbelief in God’s promises. Those who do believe will enjoy the rest, the peace with God, thanks to Christ’s sacrifice. Today, we may be reminded of the fulfilment of God’s Word as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, eating of the one bread, signifying one body, so that we may share in this one rest for everyone who believes! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the rest in Christ, a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath. Thank God for the constant reminder of the rest Christ established as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 24 – "Today you will be with me in Paradise"

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly…" – Luke 23:39-43 Scripture reading: Luke 23:33-43 Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one at either side. They both deserved their punishment. Both addressed Jesus with a last petition. The one spoke to Him in a challenging, mocking way: “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” Only if Christ would get him and Himself out of this terrible predicament, would he believe that He was the Christ. Like many people, they will accept God if and when they’re rescued from their earthly trouble and distress, but otherwise… they’ll ignore and reject Him. Jesus did not respond to this man’s petition. The other criminal, however, knew his sin and guilt and confessed the justice of God in the punishment he suffered at the cross. He also knew that Jesus was hanging there innocently, that He was hanging there for the sins of others. Thus he pleads with Jesus if He could also bear his sin and guilt and remember him for a place in God’s kingdom instead of in the hellish forsakenness that he deserved! This criminal probably knew Jesus, was raised with the Scriptures and the promises of the Messiah. He recognized in Jesus the Redeemer and he remembered God’s grace with His sinful people, Israel, again and again. Hence he prays for mercy, for forgiveness and for the fulfillment of God’s promises. His prayer was heard when Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Suggestions for prayer Pray in awareness of sin and guilt. Ask in humbleness of heart for forgiveness. And thank God for His grace and mercy which Christ obtained for us on the cross by bearing our sins. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Monday July 23 – They divided my garments among them

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic… – John 19:23-24 Scripture reading: Psalm 22 The Lord Jesus was robbed of all that He had. Naked, He was hanging on the cross. Around Him, people scorned Him, mocked and ridiculed Him. From the prophecies, He knew that this was going to happen, hence He did not open His mouth. He did so for us and in our place; for us who deserved to be robbed and lose all we have. We deserve to be crucified, forsaken by God and condemned to hellish agony; yet, He bore it all for us! At Golgotha, He descended into hell and He was exposed, not just to earthly robbers who cast lots for His clothing, but He was attacked fiercely by all satanic powers and demons as well! Indeed, Satan could do much in those hours of darkness; nevertheless, he is restricted in his evil works by God. Although David, too, experienced much of his evil plots and plans, as he expresses in Psalm 22, God still sustained him and left him much to be enjoyed in this world. God restrained Satan in order that His plan of salvation could come to Golgotha, where the full measure of our punishment was laid on Christ. God still leaves us much to be enjoyed and restrains Satan in order that God’s work can come to completion. Hence, we also may receive food and clothing, thanks to Golgotha, as gifts of God’s grace. Let’s express this awareness: never take any of His provisions for granted, but pray that we may receive all in thankfulness and for service to God! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for giving Christ as substitute to bear our curse and guilt. Pray God for gratitude for all His provisions. Ask Him for His help in using His gifts to serve Him in His church and kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 22 – The last Passover celebration

“… I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” – Luke 22:14-16 Scripture reading: Luke 22:7-20 Now, for the last time, the Lord Jesus wants to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. It provides an opportunity to place His own suffering and death as the Lamb of God in their sight! Ever since its institution, Passover signified the joy of deliverance, the gratitude over the escape from death (not only of the firstborn, but of all God’s people!). The Passover lamb made them look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Lamb of God! At the beginning of His ministry, John the Baptist had pointed Him out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” And now, He is ready to fulfill the Passover and to do so for them, for us! That’s the gospel that has been proclaimed ever since. Today again, we may hear that He has placed us in the glorious liberty of the children of God. We may celebrate this too, in the Lord’s Supper. However, just as the Israelites celebrated Passover in the midst of their Exodus, and continued it throughout their wilderness journey, we too must celebrate the Lord’s Supper in faith and believe that we have been set free… even though we may not yet see this clearly. We have the promise that Christ will celebrate this with us in the Kingdom of His Father! He will set us in the glorious freedom of His children in God’s Kingdom! The wilderness journey will end up in Canaan, the Promised Land, on the new earth where He will drink the wine new with us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for enlightened eyes of faith. Ask God for the power of His Spirit and Word, for the strengthening of our faith. Thank Him for the gifts and benefits we receive by faith in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Saturday July 21 - O Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets...!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…! – Luke 13:34-35 Scripture reading: Luke 11:37-54 Although Christ’s suffering and death was a divine necessity, this does not excuse His murderers, not His killers in the church either. This is the reality the Lord Jesus exposes in this lament over Jerusalem. Throughout the ages, God’s prophets were abused and even killed. Even today, this same abuse of God’s servants continues with the poor attitude of ignoring the Word that’s proclaimed, sleeping in church, criticizing the preaching, rejecting the admonitions and bad-mouthing the preachers. Ultimately, however, those who so conduct themselves in the church of Christ are treating Him again the way He suffered! Jesus articulates this sad fact powerfully in the image of a hen gathering her brood under her wings. Thus, Christ is seeking us by His Word and Spirit, with the means of grace, through the instruments of preachers: He wants to gather us, protect us and care for us, especially against the fierce attacks of Satan, against the wolves in sheep's clothing! Why is this so? We don’t see the dangers, sense the need for protection and heed the admonitions? Instead of saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!” we approach Him again and again with the words “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Let us never forget how He bore for us the scorn and abuse, that He might protect us and spare us for life. He protected us from the severe wrath and curse of God that we may be blessed and preserved in God’s love and care by the preaching of the gospel! Suggestions for prayer Pray for your minister, for your elders, and ask that God may help them in speaking and us in listening. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Friday July 20 – Get away, Herod wants to kill you!

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go, and tell that fox…" – Luke 13:31-33 Scripture reading: Luke 12:1-12 The Lord Jesus’ preaching was effective in Galilee. The Pharisees didn’t like this, neither did Herod. For the Pharisees, He is competition, while Herod is afraid of Him, thinking that He is John the Baptist, raised from the dead. Herod doesn’t want to kill another one, but, with the Pharisees, seeks to get rid of Him a different way. They plan to scare Him away, but the Lord Jesus knows their intent and He stands firm in His opposition to this fox, Herod, and his accomplices, the Pharisees. The Lord Jesus continues in His way, to complete His task. A few more days and He is ready to depart to Jerusalem, where He has to die. He cannot be dissuaded by circumstances; something that happens easily to us in the execution of our tasks in His Kingdom. He firmly proceeds in His work of salvation, for us and in our place. Yet, though He proceeds strong as a lion, He does so to offer Himself like a lamb to be slaughtered by Herod and his accomplices. Then, it may seem as if Herod has won after all, but Herod doesn’t realize that the Lord Jesus does so as a divine necessity, willingly giving Himself as the Lamb of God! He did so for us and in our place; for us, who are meant to be slaughtered as sheep by the greatest fox ever, Satan. Thus He becomes for us the beautiful Shepherd, Who lays down His life for the sheep, that we may find shelter in His sheepfold! Suggestions for prayer Pray for confidence and strength in our tasks in God’s Kingdom. Ask for His protection and for determination and courage; thank God that we have a Great Shepherd who leads us and keeps us. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Thursday July 19 – You give them something to eat!

Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away …to find lodging and get provisions." But He said to them, “You give them something to eat." - Luke 9:12-17 Scripture reading: Luke 9:10-17 It’s often been said that faith and religion make people unrealistic, unaware of the real needs of our time and of this world. The disciples, too, were inclined to think that Jesus was for spiritual needs, while the crowd should look elsewhere for physical needs. The Lord Jesus, however, shows that His kingdom encompasses all of life. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well," He has said. That’s the lesson He teaches the disciples (and the crowd) here too: “You give them something to eat!” Unbelievers seek their bread in their own ways, strikes, revolution, with socialists and unions, if need be. They work to eat. Believers, however, eat to work! They receive their bread from God in Christ, which enables them to seek His kingdom and church. That’s what the Lord Jesus shows here in the miracle of the multiplication of bread. He manifests Himself in His divine power, just as His Father shows His almighty power in every season by growth and prosperity: you plant one potato and you harvest ten of the same plant; you sow one grain of wheat and it will harvest thirty, sixty, or hundred fold! It’s a rich blessing, every year again, to see how God provides, much or little, yet always enough! Today as well, Christ mobilizes and activates His disciples to pray and work: you give them something to eat! He uses them also with Word & Deed to share the gospel and bring relief of people’s needs! Suggestions for prayer Pray for your daily bread and thank God for your place and task in His Kingdom, and for His provisions from day to day. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Wednesday July 18 - Take up your cross and follow Jesus!

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me…” – Luke 9:23-26 Scripture reading: Luke 14:25-35 Time and time again the Lord Jesus called people to follow Him, including His disciples and others like the rich young man. It was wonderful when people accepted this command, but He also made it clear that following Him was not easy. His way would go through suffering to glory via the cross to resurrection and eternal life. Those whom He called to follow Him, He also commanded to take up their cross. What this meant differed for every disciple and follower, today also. It could mean trouble, persecution, rejection, and hatred. It also means fighting against our sins, as Christ bore our sins on the cross. Today, still, we are called to crucify our old nature and walk in newness of life. It means that we should deny ourselves, denouncing our own will and submitting to God’s will. That’s never easy! There is much in this world that appeals to us; to sacrifice ourselves and abstain from anything sinful and selfish won’t be easy. It will help a lot, though, when we realize that the reward for sin is death, eternally, while the reward of righteousness in Jesus Christ (a life of obedience) is eternal life. It may seem as if believers have to give up a lot as if their lives lack pleasures and joy. Looking at the destiny, however, of those who live for themselves (which is death), will make the yoke of Christ seem light. Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Him! It’s not a heavy cross, but a way of joy and hope and love! Suggestions for Prayer Pray for endurance, and ask the Lord for His Spirit to strengthen you as you follow Christ and bear your cross, whatever it is that you may have to bear or sacrifice in love to Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 17 – Fasting while the Bridegroom is away

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away…" – Matthew 9:14-15 Scripture reading: John 3:22-36 The people of Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement. Also on other occasions, when the situation demanded it, they would fast and pray. For instance, they fasted for their sins, for their unfaithfulness, and for their longing for the Messiah. When the Lord Jesus had come, however, and manifested Himself as the Messiah, the matter of fasting became an issue between the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples. That’s when Jesus’ disciples had their Bridegroom with them and therefore didn’t fast. His presence, however, at this time was only temporary. This is the explanation Jesus gives the disciples of John to justify why Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting while the Bridegroom was with them. This also is His explanation for the fasting in the time following His departure; no, not a fasting as a good work to merit salvation (as some made it to be), but fasting as a longing for His return, or for their sins and weaknesses, and their struggle with temptations. This New Testament fasting, however, differs in practice and meaning. Today we may spend extra time in prayer, or abstain from worldly pleasures for the sake of His kingdom; also the situation of the church in certain times (of persecution) could necessitate a time of fasting and prayer. “Fasting and prayer” have become an expression that doesn’t necessarily mean abstaining from food, but as an expression, it denotes a time of sobriety and prayer. For God’s kingdom, we may have to sacrifice as well, prayerfully in love for our Lord! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the persecuted church. Ask for help to abstain from worldly pleasures and worldly conformity, instead, seeking His kingdom. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

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