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Daily devotional

October 30 – Loving the brother

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart… – 1 Peter 1:22 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:17-25 Christians are those who, forgiven of sin and clothed in Christ's righteousness, have fellowship with the Triune God. As God is perfect love, we are called to love one another deeply from the heart. This is because our love for one another is an expression of the common fellowship we have in Christ. The acid test of the love we profess for God is how we relate to others. Sadly this is an area of one of the greatest failings of the Christian church. Not loving each other as Christ loved us (forgiving us and sanctifying us) has produced much sorrow and division in the church and great skepticism in the world about the claims of Christ. Yet the love of Christ in us can bridge great differences of views and customs. Think of this searching statement of John: We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers. He who does not love his brothers abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and … no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (John 3:14ff). We cannot excuse a lack of love for sinners since Christ's love was extended to us while we were sinners. We are to love even our enemies! Love that is only for "good" people and not for sinners, does not reflect Christ's love, Who was the Just dying for the unjust to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). We must love deeply, from the heart. Suggestions for prayer The church needs reforming in the area of Christian fellowship and love for others. Pray for increasing love among brothers in the church and for lost sinners. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 29 – Following Jesus brings joy

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: 1 Peter 1:3-9 Many criticize Christians for their lack of joy. This might stem from not keeping the love of Jesus before us so that living for Him seems more like law-keeping rather than enjoyment of Him and His purposes. Joyful Christians are those who keep Jesus as the focus of living, working, playing, worshipping, and loving. They rejoice in Jesus and have no confidence in their own goodness, for they find their life in Jesus, not themselves. Thus they can rejoice always (Phil 4:4). Of course, some people are by nature melancholic. This is a challenge for them. They need to continually be reminded of the beauty of Christ and the hope of salvation in Him. This is an antidote to their discouragement and depression. Admittedly, our joy will always be tempered by sin's presence. Too many yet live for self, for this life. They can get very passionate about such things, but always find an emptiness. We were made to glorify God and enjoy Him. Apart from this, we will remain unfulfilled and lack joy. We must die to ourselves and find our life in Christ. The less we focus on self and the more we focus on Jesus, the more we experience His Joy. This is why Jesus calls us to follow Him, so that our joy may be complete. Focus on His love and saving grace, and you will be able to rejoice more fully, despite all difficulties (See 1 Peter 1:6-8). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you and all God's people may be filled with joy daily. Pray that in everything our focus today may be on Jesus. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 28 – Keeping Christ's commands

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. – John 15:10 Scripture reading: 1 John 2:1-6 Jesus calls us to abide in His love. He is not vague about what this means. Jesus quickly and clearly pinpoints that love is a keeping of His commandment. As He loved His Father and did all that His Father required of Him, we are to follow Jesus, doing all that He commands. The way to enjoy Jesus and His love is to walk in His footsteps. Our good works do not earn for us salvation, but by walking in Christ's ways we enjoy the fullness of life He gives us. We are to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. As the Psalmist says, I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart (Ps. 40:8). This verse sums up the heart of Christian discipleship and devotion. Jesus is the focus of our love, and His will is our delight. This is not some cold, rigid law-keeping, but an enthusiasm for Him and His perfect will and plan of salvation. When we embrace God's perfect will the result is a growing experience of remaining in the love of our Saviour. Jesus doesn’t just tell us to do as He says, but as He does: As I have kept my father's commands. In following His example of love, our love grows, so that it is ever deeper. In this loving obedient devotion, our joy is made complete. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you may follow Christ in obedience to His word. Pray for a deeper love and joy in His ways, His great plan of salvation. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 27 – Motivation for pure living

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died… – 2 Corinthians 5:14 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:9-15 If we know ourselves, we know how hard it is for us to change our ways. Our passions and desires are strong. We want to have things our way. We love our personal sins and do our best to redefine them in ways that make us feel comfortable with them. We may be told that our sin is wrong, but we learn not to take such rules so seriously. It takes more than merely being told something is wrong or being warned of the consequences of our ways, to be motivated to follow Jesus in holy living. The law of God, with all its warnings, cannot change our hearts. The gospel alone can make our sin odious and holiness delightful. The way the gospel does this is by revealing the love of God in Jesus. Paul says the love of God compelled him to reach others with the gospel because he knew that all must appear before the judgment seat of God. Jesus died so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us. Jesus, in John 15, sets His love before us as a motivation for bearing fruit and then calls us to remain in His love. We are to live in the awareness of God's love, letting His love overwhelm us and then out of that love to love God and others. His love compels us to reach out to others that they might also enjoy His love. Suggestions for prayer As Christ died so that we might be made pure, pray for a life of purity in thought, emotion and action. Pray for a heart for lost sinners. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 26 – It takes disciples to make disciples

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deuteronomy 6:6 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 11:1-19 We read in Deuteronomy 11:18  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. If we are to lead children in the Lord's ways, we must be walking in them ourselves. Example speaks volumes! We must know Him and what He has done if we would love Him and follow Him with full hearts. If we instruct children by just giving them laws and morals, then they have no incentive to keep them. But when they see us in love following Jesus, thankful for what He has done, they are inclined to follow. Receiving rules without knowing Jesus is slavery. In knowing Jesus and loving Him, we find that His yoke is easy, His burden is light.  Let children see this in us! Many parents think that loving their children is giving them things they couldn't have as kids. But children would rather have the loving leadership of parents. If we want children to follow us, they must see that we love them. So with God. If we want our children to follow Jesus, they must see His love and forgiveness. They must see us loving as He loves and forgiving as He forgives. Seeing His love in us, they will walk in those ways too. Proverbs 22:6 says, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might love God more and be a more faithful disciple, being examples of love and faith to others. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 25 – The Church's role in making disciples

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deuteronomy 6:6 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:11-16 In these verses, God is not just speaking to parents, but to the covenant community, the church.  Notice that 'hearts' is plural in the verse above. Today we tend to think more individualistically. In a Biblical view, God is in Jesus, saving for Himself a people, a bride, His church! There is a great emphasis on the unity of believers in a common faith and purpose. This training disciples, including children, is a mutual responsibility. This is why He has given pastors and teachers to unite us all as followers who reflect Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Timothy is told to teach other men what he had been taught, so that they, in turn, will be able to teach others. In 2 Timothy 4, he is to continue in what he has learned, (the Scriptures), which are able to make him wise...  for salvation, … and are useful for teaching rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. These passages teach that the church must not only proclaim the truth, but teach it in a way that people will be able to repeat it to others and always be able to give an answer for the hope that is within them. Thus the goal of the church is to have a vibrant educational ministry. Never shun this ministry, but utilize it. Attend worship, but also be involved in education, that you might be fully equipped for ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the educational ministry of the church. Pray for ways you can be involved in this ministry. Pray for those who teach others in the way of faith. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 24 – Making disciples starts at home

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Parents are the first to instruct and train their children. Fathers, in particular, are singled out as responsible for this. Note the two words. Discipline and instruction imply a focused purpose, not a casual approach. Think of how a coach operates. He instructs players about plays and moves, makes them practice them over and over again (training), encouraging and admonishing them to excel. So parents are to instruct their children and train them. Parents are to teach them about God and Jesus. Tell Bible stories so that they can see God and Jesus as revealed in them. Teach them how God has provided salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and how by His Word and Spirit He transforms them. Explain the sacraments to them. Teach them about the place and necessity of the church. Teach them how the righteousness of Christ is ours. Teach them how the world is passing away and that Christ is making all things new. Give them the vision of the coming of the new heavens and earth. Such things are foundational to holy living and such instruction begins at home, not at church or school. This is to be constant. Deuteronomy 11:19 says You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. At all times! For example, your reaction when you hit your thumb with a hammer speaks volumes about your love for the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you can be a faithful parent, or that parents you know can be faithful in training and instruction. Pray for children to know and love God. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 23 – The basis for living as disciples

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. – Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-5 The book of Deuteronomy is basically a long sermon reminding God's people how they should live in the kingdom they are being given. Central to kingdom living are two things revealed in the verse above. The first is the basic Jewish Confession, Hear, O Israel, The Lord (Yahweh) our God, the Lord (Yahweh) is one. This confession takes some central truths about God and unites them in a confessional statement. Who is God? What has He done? What is He like? He is the Lord (Yahweh), the God who redeemed His people as He promised. He is the one and only God. He is our God! If we are going to be disciples of Jesus, we need to ask these questions about our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The answer is crucial if we are to keep the second part of the text, namely, to love Him with all our being. This pattern is consistent throughout Scripture. God tells us about Himself as He reveals His great works. He also illustrates His love before He asks us to love. Thus it is important to keep God and His plan of salvation clearly in our minds if we are going to fulfill His command to love Him, to follow Him, to be like Him! So this is the pattern for making disciples. Speak of God, who He is, what He has done and what He is doing. Then call people to believe and, denying themselves, to follow Him in love, keeping His commands. Suggestions for prayer Pray for guidance in reading and studying Scripture, that you may come to know God. Pray for the Spirit to shape you to be like Him, loving God and others as He has loved you. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 22 – Jesus' love of his people

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. – John 15:9 Scripture reading: Ephesians 3:12-21 As the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves His disciples. He loves them with the same quality of love - as deeply and selflessly and purely. In love, Jesus sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Jesus promised us when He left that He would be with us until the close of the age. In Hebrews 13:5, He reiterates the promise, I will never leave you or forsake you. So sure is that love that we need not fear anything, but can simply rest in Him. Hebrews 13:6 says: so we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Never doubt His love. Romans 5:10 says if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Jesus reigns in glory and works in everything for the good of those who love Him. Paul prays that we might grasp how vast the love of Christ is, Whose goal is to save us completely. He is coming again for us, to take us home, that we might enjoy eternal fellowship with God. The love of God, which sent Jesus to take away the guilt of our sin, is sufficient to do far more than all we ask or imagine. Rest in His love! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you understand the depth of Christ's love and His desire to save you completely. Pray that you may love others as deeply. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 21 – The Father's love of the son

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. –  John 5:20 Scripture reading: John 5:19-24 The love of Jesus is rooted in the love of the Father for Him. Love motivated the plan of salvation, a plan that would result in ultimate glory for each other. Love motivated the Father to send the Son into the world. The Father spoke of His love, saying, This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him! (Mark 9:7). God took great pleasure in Jesus. At the time of Jesus' baptism, God said,  You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). This love remained even on the cross, as God poured out His wrath on Jesus. It was love that sent Jesus to the cross to bear the curse. On the cross, Father and Son are united in restoring sinners to eternal fellowship with God. In so loving the world that He gave His Son, the Father did not love His Son any less. It was love at every point that worked salvation: love of sinners, love of the Son, love of perfect justice and righteousness. The love of the Father spoken of here is not one of pity or compassion, but of pure delight. It is the love of heaven where there is no misery to pity or show compassion to. It is the love that enjoys the company of the other. The Father's love through Jesus to His people is also a delight. Jesus showed compassion for us in going to the cross because He delighted in those He would redeem. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may be able to grasp the width, length and depth of Christ's love (see Ephesians 3:17-19). Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 20 – Remaining in Christ's love

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. – John 15:10 Scripture reading: John 15:1-17 A flower picked will die. Anything severed from its source of life will die. This is a vital spiritual lesson. Jesus calls Himself the vine and believers the branches. He gives life. Jesus says that the Father is glorified in our lives bearing fruit, showing us to be disciples. Jesus says that apart from Him, we cannot do this. In Him, we can bear much fruit, the fruit of a life of praise. We have seen earlier this month that this is the purpose for which we were created and are saved. We live in a world that inhibits spiritual growth. Jesus tells us that following Him will bring hardship (John 16:33). So He reminds us of His love so that we might love one another, encouraging each other to follow Jesus. Interestingly, He tells us in v 9, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Jesus' love is rooted in the Father's love. God, Himself is love. Between Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is perfect love and harmony. They are one in passion, vision, and purpose.  The reason Jesus was so focused on His work was because He shared the same vision of redemption and glory as His Father had. He obeyed His Father perfectly and calls us to the same obedience, with the same passion. Once we know His love we will want to remain in His love. Thus we follow Jesus' words, for they are life abundant and eternal. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a love that reflects the love of Jesus for His Father, so that we will follow Him just as He perfectly obeyed His Father. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 19 – Renewing our minds

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 Scripture reading: Romans 12:1-10 Today we begin a new week of work. If we are Christians, we should be unique in the way we approach our work and various activities. It is important to think on these things because otherwise, we will simply do things the way the world around us does them. Our work and thoughts will then be conformed to this world rather than focused on the kingdom that Jesus is bringing in by His Word and Spirit. So we must set our minds on the purpose for which God made us and for which God saves us, which is ultimately that everything be brought into submission to Jesus for God's glory. Whether you go to school, a worksite, work at home, or are on vacation, how can you submit your activities to Jesus and bring God glory? It takes a whole new mindset. We must be willing to follow Jesus' teaching and example. It means we have to take ourselves out of the centre of our thoughts and plans and put Christ there. When Jesus came, He came proclaiming the kingdom of God. This required repentance, that is a change of heart and mind to put God's glory as our utmost goal. We all have abilities that are to be used for the sake of others in service to Christ. It is only when we view everything in light of the purposes of God, that we can begin to discern what is good, acceptable and perfect. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would rearrange the way you think so that He is the focus of your affections, work, studies, play - everything. Submit in everything to Jesus. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 18 – United in prayer

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel – Ephesians 6:18-19  Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10-20 Today is a worship day. So we sit under the preaching of the Word, fellowship with God's people in the sacraments, lift our voices in song, and unite in prayer. Prayer is an essential part of Christian fellowship and worship. We pray as individuals, but in worship, we pray with united heart and voice as one body. Prayer is speaking to God, laying our hearts before Him so that He knows our needs and desires. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. The church's prayers are never to be simply self-focused. We are concerned not just for ourselves, but that the cause of the gospel be advanced. Thus we pray for political leaders, that we may have peace in which to live godly lives and to speak the truth with love toward others, making disciples. So we pray for those who do not know Christ, but are yet bound by sin and its consequences, that they too may know the peace we enjoy in Jesus. And we also pray for each other, lifting up our praises, needs and desires to our God. Prayer is a primary way in which we communicate our love and thanksgiving to God for all He has done. Make sure today to pray with and for the church and for all people. Suggestions for prayer Pray for ministers today. Pray that all believers may gather for worship. Pray that all sinners may find forgiveness and rest in Jesus' forgiving grace. Pray for those in authority over us, that they receive wisdom. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 17 – Our primary duty

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42 Scripture reading: Acts 2:36-47 The church faces a lot of skeptical criticism today. What should the church be like? Many think that Acts 2:42-47 describes the ideal church. Yet, further reading in Acts reveals that they had not yet arrived. They needed further organization and had to deal with many problems.  Yet, these verses display something that is true of an ideal church, that worshipping together is a primary pleasure and duty of the church. The new converts in Acts had just come to faith in Jesus as the only Saviour from sin. And the first thing we see them doing is worshipping. The first mark of a Spirit-filled church is that they are devoted to the preaching of the Word and the sacraments, and to prayer and fellowship, key elements in worship. They could have devoted themselves to seeking the Pentecost experience all over again, but they did not. Rather, understanding what Pentecost meant they sought to equip themselves for worship and witness in the world. Often today preaching and sacraments are diminished in worship. Yet historically, whenever the church has focused on preaching the gospel, she has seen revival and reformation. This is because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. A Spirit-filled church (and person) will always be a Word-focused one. Tomorrow is a day for worship. Do not neglect the worship (Hebrews 10:25) and the fellowship of God's people, or your personal devotions (reading, studying and meditating on the Word, and praying). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you are a Word-centred person. Pray that the church in her worship remains focused on the Word, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 16 – Striving for the maturity of Christ

…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. – Ephesians 4:13 Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1-14 The apostle gives three reasons for the gift of pastors to equip us for ministry. First, to reach the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Second, that we become mature and third, that we reach the whole measure of the stature of Christ. As one body we are to follow Christ, becoming like Him, until we are exactly like Him. Through continual and mutual submission to the Word preached, we become of one mind and heart with Jesus and each other. A sign of an immature faith is holding on to grudges, refusing to forgive. This is not being childlike, but childish. Another sign of immaturity is to be easily led by the dramatic and charismatic. Young children are easily led by emotions and are tossed about by every new fad that comes along. This should not characterize the church. Using daily ordinary activities such as prayer, Bible reading, worship, sacraments, and acts of kindness, we are to follow Christ. Grounding ourselves in truth, in Jesus, we are to remain faithful, reflecting His character to the world. We are to do this as individuals, but also as a church. Mature Christians, knowing their own shortcomings, always correct their emotions and actions by the standard of Scripture and always forgive others according to the standard of Christ. Thus they always work toward unity of heart and mind in the church, so that as a body we reflect the fullness of our awesome Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as Christians we increasingly reflect the character of Jesus in our relationships with each other and towards the world. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 15 – United in ministry

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 We have seen that as believers we are called to ministry jointly with other Christians. Christ has organized us in His church for this purpose, that we may encourage each other in doing good, including in worship. Genuine religion is, of faith, serving the Lord in ministry to others. James says: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). Galatians 6 reminds us we have a duty to gently restore sinners. We are to be attentive to the needs of others in order to encourage them. We all have a duty to comfort the distressed, show hospitality, gather in the lost sheep and pray for one another. Romans 15 says that we who "are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak… to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." This follows the pattern of Christ Who did not please Himself. One way to encourage others is to be faithful in worship. We know what it feels like to worship in an empty church. When you decide not to worship, think of how your absence might discourage others. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that we all have gifts to use for the upbuilding of the body. As part of the body, we must seek the welfare of the whole body, not just ourselves. This is part of our joint ministry. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you are filled with a concern for ministering to the needs of others, particularly those who are straying. Rev. Calvin Tuininga is the Pastor Emeritus of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Pantego, North Carolina. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 14 – The purpose of ministers

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

Daily devotional

October 13 – Called to ministry

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

Daily devotional

October 12 – Grateful praise-worthy living

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

Daily devotional

October 11 – A peculiar people

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

Daily devotional

October 10 – A holy nation

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

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