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Daily devotional

September 14 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: love for one another

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-11; 5:1-3 We’ve begun to see that love for God and love for each other are intimately connected. To say you love God, while you hate your brother/sister in Christ or your neighbour, is a contradiction. Love for God is obeying His commands. And He has commanded you to love your neighbour. Therefore, to hate your neighbour is also to hate God, in whose image he/she was created, and Who commands you to love him/her. In the words of Jerry Bridges: “We cannot love God without loving one another. To recognize that there is someone I do not love is to say to God, ‘I do not love you enough to love that person.’ This is not to deny the reality of spiritual struggle in loving a particular person, because it often exists. I am referring to the attitude of not even wanting to love the person, of being content to allow a lack of love for someone who resides in my heart unchecked and unchallenged.” Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to challenge our loveless hearts. Those who truly have faith in Christ have been born of God and have the Holy Spirit reproducing the character of Christ from within so that they more and more love others from the heart in word and deed. As we’ve seen previously, this was promised long ago, that God would give us His Spirit to cause us to walk in His ways and be careful to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Suggestions for prayer Is there someone you struggle to love? Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love that person. Remember the sacrificial love of Christ for you, while you were a sinner and deserved God’s wrath (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:6-8). There is no greater love! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 13 – Let us draw near in full assurance of faith

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 Based on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His continued work as our Great High Priest, we are exhorted to draw near to God. How should we draw near to God in Christ? “Let us draw near with a true heart.” We are to approach God in worship with sincerity and with right affections for God. Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t feel like going to church. But let us nevertheless draw near to God with a true heart, even admitting to God that our hearts aren’t where they should be, and asking Him to help us worship Him with a true heart. Often if we are faithful to attend, even when we don’t feel like it, God changes our heart in the process. And “Let us draw near…in full assurance of faith.” Some of you may struggle with the assurance of God’s promises which prevents you from going to worship or from joy and confidence in worship. Let me assure you as a Minister of God’s Word, that if you trust in Christ alone for your salvation, then God forgives you, loves you, and welcomes you in His presence in worship. And so, worship God in the full assurance of faith because of Christ’s once for all sacrifice on the cross and because He ever lives to make intercession for you at God’s right hand. In Christ, we draw near to God, “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would assure you and other worshippers of the promises of God in Christ so that all would draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 12 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the necessity of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Love is central to the Christian life. Without it, we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. Without it our gifts add up to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Jesus summarized our entire duty to God and neighbour in the law, as love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus says that love for one another is evidence that one is His disciple (John 15:8-12). After listing several virtues, Paul says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). Indeed, it’s probably not a coincidence that Paul mentions love first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” He goes on to say, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:7-8; 5:1-3). Today we see the necessity of love and that love for God and neighbour are intimately connected. Beloved in Christ, let us love one another by the Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love God more by keeping His commandments in gratitude for God’s grace (1 John 4:19; 5:3). Pray that God will help you by His Spirit to love others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, and even your enemies. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 11 – The fruit of the Spirit: general observations

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…patience, kindness…1 Corinthians 13:4, 6 Love is patient and kind…rejoices. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Before we look at each aspect of the fruit that Paul mentions, it’s worth noting a few general observations. First, it is important to note that it is all one fruit. Paul doesn’t refer to his list as the fruits of the Spirit (plural), as if they are distinct from one another and you can have one without the other. Rather, Paul speaks in the singular and refers to it all as the one “fruit of the Spirit.” As we move on to joy and peace and patience, we are in one sense still talking about love and vice versa. We can see the close connection of the fruit in 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul says that love IS patient (a fruit of the Spirit). Love IS kind (a fruit of the spirit). Love rejoices (joy is a fruit of the Spirit). We are talking about the one fruit of the Spirit when we talk about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are like different facets of one diamond that we behold from different angles. Second, like the list of the works of the flesh (see September 6), this is not an exhaustive list. There are more aspects to the fruit of the Spirit than the nine virtues that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. We certainly could add humility, compassion, forgiveness and other virtues that the Spirit produces in us. All these virtues grow together in us as the one fruit of the Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would produce more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, conforming you to the image of Christ. Thank God that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 10 – The fruit of the Spirit: produced in us

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 Scripture reading: John 15:1-17 Yesterday we heard about Christ’s fruitfulness for us. Today we learn about Christ’s fruitfulness in us. We deserve to be judged for our unfruitfulness (the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21). But thanks be to God that Christ bore the judgment in our place! (Galatians 3:13). When we repent and believe in Christ, God forgives all our sins and credits the fruitfulness of Christ to our account. Even more, we receive the promised Spirit from the moment we first believe (Galatians 3:14). And now, that same Spirit Who bore good fruit for the Father, in the ministry of Christ for us, bears His fruit in our lives as we abide in Christ through faith (John 15:1-5). You see the secret of bearing fruit in the Christian life is not a self-help manual. Nor is it looking to the law for the power to obey. The law cannot give you the power to obey. It can only give you guidance on how to truly love God in gratitude. Only the Spirit can produce His fruit in your life. You need an inward heart renewal, which is a blessing promised in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). If you want more of the Spirit’s fruit in your life, you must be nourished by God’s Word and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The Word and sacraments point you to Christ, and the Spirit uses these means to transform you into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Suggestions for prayer Meditate on Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as revealed in the Word and sacraments. Pray that the Spirit will conform you more into His image and produce Christ-likeness in your life. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 9 – The fruit of the Spirit: Christ’s fruitfulness

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… – Isaiah 11:1-2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-5; 27:6; 32:14-17 Yesterday we saw Israel’s unfruitfulness. Today we learn more about how Christ is True Israel, Who bears fruit pleasing to the Heavenly Father. In Isaiah 11, we find that One will arise from within Israel, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (v. 1). And He is fruitful because He is anointed with the Holy Spirit (vv. 2-5). The justice and righteousness that Israel failed to produce in Isaiah 5 would be produced in THIS faithful Servant. And not only righteousness, but also the fruit of faithfulness, peace, and joy (Isaiah 11:5; 32:17; 51:3; Galatians 5:22). And this True Israel would be so fruitful that one day the whole world would be filled with good fruit (Isaiah 27:6). This is because He will pour out His Spirit on His people (Isaiah 32:14-17; 44:2-4; 45:8). This is the work of Christ for us. He is fruitful so that we might be fruitful unto God. He was anointed with the Spirit at His baptism and God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He bore fruit for God that was perfect, that yielded good wine, wine that has no blemish, no sour or bitter notes and has a perfect finish. And yet, He became like wild rotten grapes for us. Our unfruitfulness was imputed to Him. He was judged in our place, forsaken, so that we would never be forsaken by God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the fruitfulness of Christ on your behalf. Rest and rejoice in the good news that God will never leave you nor forsake you because of Christ. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 8 – The fruit of the Spirit: Israel’s unfruitfulness

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill…and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes…Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is… – Isaiah 5:1-2 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; Isaiah 5:1-7 Most Christians today are familiar with this passage on the fruit of the Spirit. But few are aware of the significance of this passage in light of the Old Testament. Just as there is an Old Testament background to what it means to “walk by the Spirit,” so too there is an Old Testament background to Paul’s language of “fruit of the Spirit.” In Isaiah 5:1-7 we see that God redeemed Israel as His beloved bride from slavery in Egypt. He mercifully rescued and married her when no one wanted her. He provided for her and protected her.  He gave Israel His law for how she was to live as His people in gratitude for her deliverance from Egypt. But when God looked at His vineyard, what did He see? Instead of good grapes they produced wild grapes that are of no use for wine, but only for producing vinegar. God was looking for the fruit of justice and righteousness, but instead, they produced bloodshed and an outcry. They were unfruitful. Thus, they came under God’s judgment. Israel is a microcosm of all of fallen humanity. Apart from Christ, none of us are any better. The works of the flesh taint our record. But the good news is that True Israel would one day come in the person and work of Christ and bear the fruit of the Spirit perfectly on behalf of His chosen bride, the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1). Rest in His completed work on the cross for you. Abide in Him by faith and pray for the Spirit to unite you with Christ and His life-giving benefits more and more. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 7 – The works of the flesh

Now the works of the flesh are evident…I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19, 21 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:19-21 We’ll spend most of our time focusing on the fruit of the Spirit. But today we consider the works of the flesh. Paul says that “the works of the flesh are evident.” They are those actions that flow out of our “flesh” (sin nature) and its desires. Apart from God’s grace in Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we all gravitate towards these things. The sins Paul mentions don’t need much explanation. But it’s worth mentioning that this is not an exhaustive list, as Paul adds, “and things like these,” at the end of the list (v. 21). Other works of the flesh are mentioned elsewhere (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-6; Colossians 3:5-9). Paul mentions the sins that the particular church to which he is writing tends to struggle with the most. He also always warns them, “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It’s important to note that this does not mean that Christians never commit these sins and achieve sinless perfection in this life (Galatians 5:17). Rather, it means that Christians don’t walk in these sins habitually as a committed lifestyle. They also repent of these sins with genuine sorrow and hatred and turn from them more and more. Furthermore, they grow in a heartfelt desire to walk in righteousness and the Spirit produces in them His righteous fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to God, rest in the complete forgiveness of all your sins in Christ and ask for the Spirit to enable you to turn more and more from the works of the flesh and to walk in Christ-like love for God and neighbor. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 6 – Confidence to enter the holy places

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus…and since we have a great priest over the house of God… – Hebrews 10:19-21 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 Today, as you worship God, remember that you have “confidence to enter the holy places.” Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s holy place in the Garden of Eden because of sin. God placed the cherubim with a flaming sword to bar anything unholy from entering. The only way back into God’s holy presence would be through judgment. This was impressed upon God’s people in the Old Testament in the tabernacle and temple, where cherubim were embroidered on the inner curtain that marked off God’s presence in the “most holy place.” No one could enter that most holy place except for the high priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement, where he offered a sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the people. How can we have confidence in worship if we have all sinned? Because Christ is our Great High Priest, He is true God and true man, Who always kept God’s law and offered up Himself as a once for all sacrifice for all our sins. He bore the judgment in our place on the cross and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. He rose again, ascended to heaven and now lives to make intercession for us at the Father’s right hand in the true temple. Through His precious blood, we have permanent open access to God’s holy presence (Hebrews 10:19-21). Therefore, worship God through faith in Christ, with confidence, and be thankful for Christ’s priestly work on your behalf. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His continued priestly work on your behalf. Pray that you and other worshippers would “make a joyful noise to the LORD” and “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!” (Psalm 100). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 5 – Walk by the Spirit: not under the law?

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. – Galatians 5:18 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Galatians 3:13-14 Are Christians really not under the law? What does Paul mean here? He doesn’t mean that you don’t have to obey God’s moral law anymore. You still are required to love God and love your neighbor as a Christian (Galatians 5:13-14; Romans 13:8-10). What then does He mean? Paul means that we are no longer under the law’s condemnation. Earlier he said Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And so, it can no longer condemn you, but it still commands you. In terms of the former, the words of the hymn, Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, by John Newton, are very comforting: Let us love and sing and wonder, let us praise the Saviour’s name, He has hushed the law’s loud thunder, He has quenched Mt. Sinai’s flame: He has washed us with His blood, He has brought us nigh to God. For Christians, the law of God functions as a rule of love for God and neighbour. And, “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Finally, as Christians we have the law of God written on our hearts by the Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31-34). But the law doesn’t produce love. Rather, love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Spirit produces His fruit as we hear both the law and the gospel preached, and He conforms us into the image of Christ Who fulfilled the law and died for our sins in sacrificial love for us. Suggestions for prayer Praise God with the words of Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, by John Newton. Meditate on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 and thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 4 – Walk by the Spirit: a daily fight

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:17 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-18 We’ve seen that walking by the Spirit is an echo of Israel’s exodus and includes the following ideas: freedom in Christ from the curse of the law, strength by the Spirit to turn from sin and to walk in obedience to God, and being led by the Spirit according to God’s Word. At this point, the Christian life may sound easy. Indeed, we have heard much good news so far to strengthen us for the journey! But the journey is not without its struggles. Here we are reminded that if we are led by the Spirit there will be a daily fight within, between our sinful nature (“desires of the flesh”) and the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us. Do you ever feel like there are two of you? Do you ever do something sinful and think, “Why did I just do that? I hate that! I never want to do that again!” only to do it again. Know that you are not alone. This is the ordinary Christian life. It’s a fight, but it’s a good fight. It’s the good fight of the faith. As Christians, we have peace with God because we have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). But the peace we have with God in justification marks the beginning of the war on sin in our sanctification. Thanks be to God that the Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead dwells within us and will give us ultimate victory! (Romans 8:11; Philippians 1:6). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to God and be assured that He forgives you and accepts you in Christ (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2). Pray that the Spirit would govern you more and more in your thoughts, words and deeds for the glory of God and the good of others. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 3 – Walk by the Spirit: led by God’s word

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 So far we’ve seen that to walk by the Spirit means that we are free in Christ from the curse of the law and free in Christ to obey God’s law in the Spirit’s strength. To walk by the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit (v. 18), walking in His strength and following His guidance. But where does this strength and guidance come from? Does it just happen to us? No. Both the strength and guidance come by the Spirit through the means of grace, the Word and sacraments, and through prayer. We must pray for the Spirit’s strength to obey God’s law, revealed in the Spirit-inspired Word. We must pray for the Spirit to use God’s Word to expose the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil. And we must pray that the Spirit would conform us more into the image of Christ as we behold Him by faith in the Word and sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The Spirit ordinarily works through these means. To be led by the Spirit is to be led by God’s Word. To walk by the Spirit is to walk by God’s Word. The Spirit and the Word go hand in hand. Therefore, if we want to walk by the Spirit we must be a people of prayerful meditation on God’s Word. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Let us walk by the Spirit according to God’s Word! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Spirit-inspired Word. Pray that the Spirit would draw you into God’s Word daily and especially in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 2 - Walk by the Spirit: led by the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 Scripture reading: Isaiah 63:11-14; Nehemiah 9:19-20 Yesterday we began to see how Paul has in mind the exodus of Israel when he exhorts us to “walk by the Spirit.” Israel’s freedom from Egypt foreshadowed our greater freedom in Christ from the curse of the law, the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. Indeed, freedom in Christ is a key theme of Galatians (e.g. 2:4; 3:13; 4:5; 5:1, 13). This is why it is often referred to as “The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty.” But there is more to the story with Israel and with us. God didn’t just free the Israelites from bondage to Egypt only to leave them to themselves to roam wherever they wanted. Rather, once He liberated them He then led them by His Spirit (Isaiah 63:11-14; Nehemiah 9:19-20). So too, God liberates us in Christ and leads us by His Spirit as pilgrims in this world. In other words, we are not left to ourselves to fight against sin and the devil in our own strength. Rather, we have been given the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit Who enables us to walk in God’s ways (Ezekiel 36:25-27). This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. It means we are not only free in Christ from the curse of the law but we are also free in Christ to obey God’s law in the Spirit’s strength. Therefore, let us walk by the Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to turn from the desires of the flesh more and more and to obey God’s law in gratitude for Christ. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September introduction: the Vine, and the fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut, as one children’s Sunday school song puts it. I’m sure you all know that! But it’s a fun song for memorizing the list of nine virtues that Paul mentions. You are probably also familiar with the topic of the fruit of the Spirit to some extent. But this month we’ll meditate more deeply on Galatians 5:16-25. We look forward to exploring some of the lesser-known Old Testament background on the fruit of the Spirit as well as the background to Paul’s exhortation to “walk by the Spirit.” We’ll also see how it connects with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who is the True Vine and the Last Adam, Who has been raised from the dead and gives the promised Spirit of life to His people (John 15:1; 1 Corinthians 15:45). My prayer is that through this study we will come to better understand the Bible’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit and marvel at the unity of the whole Bible on this topic. Even more, it is my prayer that we will actually grow in the fruit of the Spirit during this study; that we will be equipped to grow in maturity in Christ throughout the Christian life for the glory of God and the good of others. As Jesus put it, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Also, on Sundays throughout this month we’ll be meditating on Hebrews 10:19-25 and how it calls us to worship God. September 1 – Walk by the Spirit: freedom in Christ But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16   Scripture reading: Galatians 3:13-14; 4:4-7; 5:16-18 Why does Paul say walk by the Spirit? Why not, “live by the Spirit” or “seek the Spirit”? It’s because Paul pictures the great redemptive event of the Old Testament, namely the exodus. Remember that Israel was in bondage to Egypt and the Pharaoh. That bondage was a picture of our bondage to the curse of the law, the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. As Paul says earlier in Galatians, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed…Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods” (Galatians 3:23; 4:8). You see, Christ set us free from those things by being born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might no longer be slaves but sons (Galatians 4:4-7). Paul’s point is that when we look to Christ by faith, we are freed from the bondage of the curse of the law, justified in God’s sight and are adopted as God’s own dear children. And so, we have the greatest freedom of all in Christ that the exodus of Israel foreshadowed. What does this have to do with the exhortation to “walk by the Spirit”? We’ll answer that in tomorrow’s devotional. For now, rest and rejoice in the remarkable freedom that you have in Christ by grace alone through faith alone. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the freedom you have in Christ from the curse of the law, the power of sin, and the tyranny of the devil. You’ve gone from slavery to sonship, from wrath to riches! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 31 – Trust the psalms of God

I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. – Psalm 52:8B Scripture reading: Psalm 52 We started with Psalm 1 and the comparison between the good and the wicked man. We sang from Psalm 50, the words of God Who calls us to right worship and living. He promises curses upon the wicked and blessings for the good man. In Psalm 51, we repented because of the renewal that the creation of a new heart and pure spirit brings. Then we sang from Psalm 52, “Do not take God’s mercy for granted; see the foolishness and destruction of the wicked. Trust in God.” Some of the verses of these Psalms make us cringe just a bit. Let us trust that these songs are given by God, Whose love is steadfast. We are coming out of darkness into light. He is bringing us from the destruction of wickedness and into the blessings of obedience that we may live and prosper like a tree planted beside the living waters—like a green olive tree. These songs sing about our God, Who is God with us and in us. But we also sing to minister to one another, always with thanksgiving in our hearts. Singing the Psalms, we love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Let us never forget God’s love to us in the One Who is the olive tree, yet hung on a tree that we may know the love of God. Sing of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the LORD. Trust in the steadfast love of God forever. Suggestions for prayer Pray for joy to sing of all the Psalms of God, trusting His inspired words as being the excellent, right and true things that we and the whole world need to hear. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 30 – Worship of the fruitful tree

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. – Psalm 52:8-9 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:8-9 We have dealt with some heavy stuff this past week. But today we can go to Church and be encouraged. The world is a messy and sad place to live in. Then God says, “Come to Church. Remember that I warned you. Come by faith, repenting, believing and trusting, worship Me.” We come together to confess our sins and sing praises to God, thanking Him that we are like the green olive tree standing in the house of God. Did you know that a well-tended olive tree can last for hundreds of years? It, in David's day and the Middle East today, is known for its usefulness and loveliness. It can be used as an ornamental tree and for its fruit—what a great picture of the faithful man. Remember Psalm 1? "The good man is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Are you baptized? Romans 6 teaches us that if we are baptized into Christ's death, we are raised in His new life. He is that perfect olive tree and in His goodness we become that tree by faith. Let us, in Christ, produce the fruits of worship. Come to the Father; He calls you by the elders to honour and adore Him. He has made us, and we are His. Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving and flourish like the olive tree. Suggestions for prayer Pray for hearts of love and thanksgiving and blessings for the Church as she gathers together to worship God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 29 – Sing the truth in love

See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction! – Psalm 52:7 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:6-7 Tomorrow we are going to church. We know that we ought to sing verses like Psalm 52:6,7. They are in line with Psalm 2, where the Anointed laughs in derision at the intent of the wicked. With Christ, we laugh at the foolishness. God reminds us of our need to repent using our song of warning. That ought to be part of worship. If we love God, we must sing the truth, in love, to warn of the darkness. As a social worker, I remember coming into the homes of addicts. The first thing that hits you is the stink and then the poverty. In one home, a toddler was walking around. It was winter, and there was snow in the living room while she wandered about in her sagging diaper looking for some comfort. Yet her guardians took pleasure in their own destruction because they were addicts. What is supposed to be euphoric turns into the nightmare of desperation. But sin is like that. Hardly aware of it, we can put our trust in our idols. When God comes and brings punishment, one of two things will happen: we are enlightened and turn to Him, or we dig in our heels and take refuge in our destruction. Let us listen to God today. Let us understand that we sing to warn one another and the lost. Sin is ugly and so are the results. Run to Christ! Suggestions for prayer Pray for blessings for our worship and the courage for our pastor to speak the truth in love, to each other and to the lost. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 28 – Singing about the destruction of the wicked

But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living – Psalm 52:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:5 Here is a sensitive issue for the church. In the Book of Romans (12:19-21), we read, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Is it loving for us to sing about the destruction of the wicked? Jesus never shied away from warning the wicked of His day. The Church in Revelation 19 sings with joy about the destruction of the great harlot—a symbol of the wicked. Remember that David sings to God about the destruction of the man who persecuted the righteous priests of God. The wicked boast of the Christians they kill, even today. What would you think of a God who did not shield His chosen? What would you think of a Father who did not protect His children? The love of God is steadfast, and He will repay the wicked. God will send Jesus, and the Risen One will come to judge the living and the dead. If we do not believe this, or sing about it, likely we will not be all that engaged in reaching out to the lost. But, being sure of the end of the wicked, let us call them out of the darkness and into life. Let us sin no more! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the salvation of the wicked, the protection of the saints, a heart for pure living and the lost. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 27 – Evil men and the love of God

You love evil more than good… – Psalm 52:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:1-4 Are you ever surprised by evil? In my earlier life counseling teenaged sex offenders, I remember being struck by what people can do to one another. Some of the young men I worked with seemed to have no conscience or remorse for the cruelty they inflicted upon others. Yet, most, if not every one of them had suffered the same kind of brutality. The cycle of sin is real and ugly. When I read the news, I wonder about the state of the world in the days before the flood. How bad was it? Was it worse than the days we live in? When we read about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is our society any different than that corrupt society? David speaks about Doeg who bragged about killing the priests of God with no conscience or remorse. The wicked abound and it seems like they have the control. We see the growing drug problems and bizarre sexuality, and we are concerned. We cannot help but think about those words, “You love evil more than good.” The love of God is steadfast. I see the love of God flowing, mingled down in the blood of Christ on the cross, and I cannot help but be driven to the love of God. With Paul, we will fight against sin the rest of our lives and slowly, but surely, love good more than evil. David gave us the words to sing about and to take it to the Lord in prayer. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will have the perspective of God’s love and let go of what is evil in our lives. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 26 – Evil men and the love of God

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. – Psalm 52:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 52:1 How great is God’s love? How enduring and amazing! If God always is, then love always is too. We can trust in that. It is that love that helps us understand what wickedness is all about. It helps us understand the absolute foolishness, not only of the deeds of wicked men, but their utterly empty understanding about life. When we think of the love of God in Christ Jesus, that the Father so loved us that He gave His only Son for us, we begin, at least in part, to understand the love Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 13. The wicked man cannot grasp this. He does what he does because he rejects the love of God. He exalts himself. He wants to make himself great. He speaks as if he were great. But he is completely deceived. We need only to look back at men like Stalin, or Hitler who thought they would build lasting kingdoms. But the mighty have fallen and their dominions are no more. What of us? Do we understand this? Is there some sin we cling to? I suppose we would know enough to not brag about our sins. Sometimes we do. We can revel in our past, forgetting that we ought not to remember the sins of our youth. The love of God is pure. Let our lives and love be genuine too. Let us seek wisdom. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will see the evil in us, around us and in our leaders and neighbors, praying that they will repent and find the love of God. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

August 25 – Singing the truth about God

The righteous shall see and fear – Psalm 52:6 Scripture reading: Psalm 52 Have you walked through a forest after a strong wind has blown? You can see a big old tree toppled over; its roots are exposed. David compares wicked Doeg to that tree. Doeg killed the priests of Nob who helped David. David makes clear that all the wicked, like Doeg, will taste the judgment of the LORD. It is good to be reminded that God is forever and always God. He is the great King, as we have seen from Psalm 50 and merciful as we have seen from Psalm 51. But let us not take that mercy for granted. It is good to think about the end of wickedness and folly. The conclusion is the tumbling down of the wicked. That covenant theme presented by Psalm 1 runs its course. If we love God, we are like the green and verdant tree that lives in the House of God. We, who live in the wonder of the work of Christ, have good reason to believe that God forgives, so let us trust God to order our lives and set the direction of our paths. If we love God, we will live by His commandments. Then we will bear those fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:21,22). If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Then our God will be honored and perhaps our neighbors will be won to the good life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we will respect God and His desire for our lives, for His glory, and the blessing for the lives of our loved ones, neighbors and selves. Rev. Al Bezuyen serves the Covenant Reformed Church of Toronto. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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