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Daily devotional

July 13 – Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

“…as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” – Joshua 2:11-13 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-21 The whole story of Rahab glows with one theme: salvation is from the LORD. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Martin Luther’s eyes were opened when he recognized that, in the words of Galatians 3:11: The righteous shall live by faith. That’s the message that shines from the story of Rahab. She was as lost as a person can be. Most of us would never have spoken a word to her, never had a thought or a care about her. But God knew her. And she belonged to Him. At a certain moment, there in the city of Jericho in the land of Canaan, He called her. She heard the gospel of Yahweh in those reports about what He did at the Red Sea, and what He did to Sihon and Og. She repented and believed. Christ gathered her with His people; Matthew tells us that she became one of His mothers. And she serves, for Israel then and still for us today, as a testimony to the sovereign grace and saving power of God. If she can be saved, anyone can be saved. Even you; even me. There is no one whose sin is too great to be forgiven, whose sin is too great to be forgiven by grace, through faith, in Christ. That’s the gospel to us, in our sin. That’s the gospel that we can proclaim to our children, and to our neighbors. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would open the hearts of your co-workers, neighbors and unbelieving family members, so that they would be ready to hear and believe the gospel when you speak with them about life in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 12 – The scarlet cord

“And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” – Joshua 2:21 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-21 People wonder about the meaning of that scarlet cord that Rahab hung out of her window. The Holy Spirit mentions the colour, so it has to mean something. But what does it mean? Some say, Scarlet is the colour of blood, so it must be a symbol of the blood of Christ. And it means that Rahab was saved by the blood of Christ. But in the Bible, scarlet is also the colour of sin (Isaiah 1:18). And scarlet is also associated with prostitution (Jeremiah 4:30; Revelation 17:3,4). Apparently, in those days and in that part of the world, prostitutes would hang a scarlet cord out of their window, so that the men who passed by would know where to find them. Rahab used to hang that scarlet cord out the front window of her house; it identified her as a prostitute. It was a symbol of her shameful life. But after she professed faith in Israel’s God, the spies told her, Take that scarlet cord, that used to identify you as a prostitute, and hang it out the back window, as a testimony to your new identity in Christ. Hang it out the back window, and let it serve now as your public profession of faith in our God. That’s what she did. And the scarlet cord which had once testified to her lostness and her shame was transformed; it became a sign of her righteousness and salvation. And a great encouragement to the people of Israel. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His sovereign love and grace, extended to you, even though you are completely undeserving. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 11 – The battle belongs to the Lord

“…we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:10, 11 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:8-14 Paul says in Romans 10, Faith comes from what is heard. Rahab heard what Yahweh had done, and she believed in Him. She called Him, Yahweh. That’s the covenant Name of God. She said, I know that Yahweh has given you the land. In fact, Rahab said, Everyone in Jericho, everyone in Canaan, is afraid of you. Because we’ve heard what your God has done for you. It’s all anyone can talk about. Think about her faith, and Canaan’s fear of God, and compare it to the way Israel behaved. Israel saw what God had done, but they grumbled and complained and doubted. Rahab and the Canaanites had heard what God had done, and they knew what He could do. Rahab said, As soon as we heard about what you did to Sihon and Og, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. This is the gospel of the conquest of the Promised Land. Before a single soldier had set foot in the land, before a single Israelite arrow was shot or spear was thrown, God had given the land of Canaan to Israel. And this is the gospel of our inheritance. Yes, there are enemies, and you have to fight; you have to stand. But in Christ, the LORD has gone before us and defeated our enemies. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to believe that your sworn enemies – the devil, the world and your own flesh – are defeated in Christ, and pray that His victory would be displayed clearly in your confession and life. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 10 – Rahab the prostitute

“And she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.’” – Joshua 2:4b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 2:1-7 The people of Jericho knew that Israel was camped just on the other side of the river, so they were keeping a close eye on any strangers that came to their city. When they figured out who these men were who had gone to Rahab’s house, they went straight to the king and told him. Somehow, Rahab found out that the soldiers were on their way, and she hid the two spies before they got there. She admitted that the men had come to her house, but she said, “I did not know where they were from. They left Jericho just before the city gates were closed, but if you pursue them quickly, you will overtake them.” She lied. Was that right? We get hung up on that question. But the Bible says that Rahab was acting out of faith. In Hebrews 11, the Holy Spirit puts Rahab in the same category as Abel and Enoch and Abraham, and all the “heroes of faith” that He mentions in that chapter. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” James 2 says, “Rahab the prostitute was justified when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.” The Holy Spirit highlights the faith of this Canaanite prostitute, as the sovereign and gracious work of God. It was a sign for Israel, that He had gone before them, and would give Jericho into their hands. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be encouraged by the knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is right now gathering God’s elect from every nation, and joining them by faith to His body, to be your brothers and sisters in Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 9 – Commitment to exercise Church discipline

“Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.” – Joshua 1:18 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 Israel had shown herself to be a stubborn and rebellious people. But here, on the doorstep of Canaan, they made an absolute commitment to obey Joshua. And they promised, “Whoever rebels against your commandment, and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death.”This has to do with who Israel is, as God’s people. That means, it has to do with us, and who we are. God had spelled out how Israel would receive their inheritance. In a certain way, they had to believe in Joshua. He was their appointed leader, and they had to trust him, and obey him. This is why they promised to put to death whoever rebelled against his commandment or disobeyed his words. Because disobedience was unbelief. Rebelling against Joshua and disobeying his commandment was rejecting the promise of the gospel, and refusing to live by faith. So, those who rebelled against Joshua, and disobeyed his commandment showed that they didn’t belong to the people of God. The church is finally the body of believers, of all those who are hungering and thirsting for salvation in Jesus Christ. And anyone who rebels against the Word of Jesus Christ, who disobeys His commandment, is rejecting the gospel, and refusing to live by faith in Christ. He or she forfeits the right to be included among His people. Our commitment to exercise church discipline is an expression of our loyalty to Christ, and our desire for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will keep you from falling away from Christ and that He will bless the work of believers and of the elders as your church exercises mutual and official church discipline. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 8 – Commitment to the unity of faith

“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, ‘Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.” Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them.’” – Joshua 1:12-15a Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 When Moses gave the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:28-32), they promised that they would send their soldiers to fight alongside their brother Israelites. Humanly speaking, the bigger your army, the better. But time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses told Israel that the LORD would be fighting for them. So Israel didn’t need a big army. They didn’t need any help from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. So why did the two-and-a-half tribes have to send soldiers to fight along with the rest of Israel? This is about the unity that’s created among God’s people by faith in the gospel. Think about what’s going on here; think about it in the light of the New Testament. Israel is an Old Testament picture of the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were about to receive their inheritance. We confess that we believe and profess one catholic or universal church, which is a holy congregation and assembly of the true Christian believers, who expect their entire salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s who the church is. And this is what that looks like in Joshua 1: a congregation of people who were expecting their salvation in Joshua. Joshua is saying, Every Israelite must do all that he can to make sure that every one of his fellow Israelites receives his inheritance. That’s what our Joshua says, too. That’s the demand and the purpose of our unity in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, to deepen your love and your commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray and to work out their salvation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 7 – Only believe

“Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’” – Joshua 1:11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 The people were excited about finally entering the Promised Land. But they could see the Jordan River. They knew about the giants and they knew about the fortified cities. So they must have had questions about how this was all going to go. But Joshua didn’t give them a big long explanation of how they were going to get themselves and all their cattle and all the rest across the river; he didn’t explain how he planned to defeat the Canaanites. He just announced that within three days, they were going to cross the river, and take possession of the land. And he told them to get ready. Getting ready was an act of faith. Getting ready means, I believe the promise. This is the gospel, and this is how the gospel comes to us in worship today. Jesus comes and He simply announces God’s gift of salvation. He says to us, for example, in John 5:19: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Jesus doesn’t explain there how He’s going to bring us from death to life. He just says that He will. And then He says, Believe. The gospel is: Salvation is from the LORD. Don’t ask all kinds of questions. Only believe, and do what Jesus tells you to do because He promised you, and it’s going to happen. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you today, as you hear the gospel preached to you, to simply believe the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 6 – Israel’s savior was careful to do what God commanded him

“And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” – Joshua 1:10-11 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:10-18 God told Joshua that Israel’s salvation depended on his obedience (Joshua 1:7-8). And the Holy Spirit wants us to know that Joshua was obedient. Right after He recorded the charge that Joshua received from the LORD, He tells us that Joshua commanded the officers of the people to tell Israel to get ready to enter Canaan. It says that Joshua told Israel that they were going to pass over the Jordan and take possession of the land within three days. But when you compare that with the story of the spies that Joshua sent to Canaan, in the next chapter, you’ll recognize that Joshua probably sent the spies to Jericho before he gave Israel the command to get ready. What do we make of that? Is it a mistake in the Bible? Is the Holy Spirit misleading us? We have to remember that the book of Joshua is prophecy. The purpose of this book is to tell the story of God’s work for the salvation of His people. God had made it clear that Israel would only inherit the land if Joshua was obedient. And the Spirit says, Praise God! Joshua, the instrument of Israel’s salvation, was careful to do exactly what God commanded him to do! The Holy Spirit has given us the New Testament gospels for the very same reason: they are the record of our Savior’s perfect obedience, and they are the foundation of our faith in Him to be our perfect Savior. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Word, and in particular, for the gospels’ record of Christ’s obedience, and ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you in faith through His Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 5 – Salvation through the obedience of the Savior

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” – Joshua 1:7-8 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Three times, the LORD told Joshua to be strong and courageous. In verses 7 and 8, He followed that charge with a command, to obey the law and to meditate on it day and night. He used the word, torah, which means, instruction. It includes the law, but it also includes covenant history. God joined His promise to His commands: Then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success. When Joshua faced the fortified cities of Canaan, he would be tempted to believe that victory depended on his strategy, or on Israel’s military power. So God commanded him to meditate on His torah, to bolster his faith. In effect, He said, Read My Word with deep concentration; read it to yourself; and believe that it is for you. Then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. In other words, The salvation of My people depends on your faith and your obedience, Joshua. This is what He demanded of our Savior. And this is the gospel: He was perfectly obedient. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Yeshua, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11) Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, Who lived a righteous life in your place, and poured out His blood to pay for your sin. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 4 – Only be strong and courageous

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous. – Joshua 1:6-7a Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 God gave Joshua an impossible task: “...you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua’s experience as Moses’ assistant had equipped him for this tremendous responsibility. He had become a wise leader and a skillful general. But the heart of Joshua’s preparation to be Israel’s savior was witnessing first-hand how the LORD was with Moses and empowered him to win victories, to bring plagues, to open the Red Sea, to give the people manna and water from the rock. The LORD called Joshua to lead Israel in war. He was their general. But the LORD didn’t say, Study the geography; make sure you know all the strengths and the weaknesses of the nations that you’re going to go up against. He said, Joshua, this is My promise: You shall cause this people to inherit this land. Yes, this weak and fearful and thankless people! And those fortified cities that you see out there, and those giants that you saw when you spied out the land forty years ago, will not be able to stand against you. God only put one condition on His promise, the condition of faith and obedience: Only be strong and courageous. This is the heart of his responsibility and the key to his success as Israel’s savior. Just like it was for our Joshua, Who by His faith and obedience caused us to inherit the land and the life God has sworn to give us. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God that by grace, through faith, you are a child of God for Christ’s sake and a fellow heir with Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 3 – Immanuel is our comfort

“Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” – Joshua 1:2b-5 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 It sounds as if the LORD was standing with Joshua, at a place where the whole land was spread out before them. And the LORD says, It’s all yours: every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you. God says it three times, in verses 2, 3 and 6. There it is. You only have to go and take it. Moses says in Deuteronomy 8 that Canaan was a paradise. There was plenty of water, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees and pomegranates and olive trees; there would be honey, and they would eat bread without scarcity. They would lack nothing. The stones were iron, and they could dig copper out of its hills. But the Jordan was at flood stage, running high and fast, overflowing its banks. And Joshua remembered the fortified cities and giants that were waiting for them. So, the promise was wonderful, but the idea of entering Canaan was intimidating. The LORD knew that Joshua needed encouragement. He said, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you.”That’s how we know that we will receive the inheritance that God has promised us: we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:13,14). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, and pray that more and more, by His work, you may be confident of your inheritance in Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 2 – Not even Moses could save them

“Moses My servant is dead.” – Joshua 1:2 Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 Moses’ name is mentioned three times in the first sentence of the book. He was the only leader the people had ever known. He had met with God and talked with Him, face to face. He had brought the good news of freedom from slavery in Egypt and he was God’s instrument of salvation, at the Red Sea and the entire way through the wilderness. And now he was gone. Israel had finally reached their destination, but after all the sorrows and frustrations of leading those thankless people through the wilderness, God wouldn’t let him enter Canaan. Yes, he had sinned. At Meribah, Moses made the worst mistake he could have made as a mediator. God wanted to show Israel His mercy and patience, but Moses was angry, and he misrepresented God. But Psalm 106:32,33 says that Israel angered God at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. The people were impossible. They were unsavable. Just like we are. That’s always the great obstacle to our salvation. Who can save us from our slavery to sin, and make us inherit eternal life? Jesus said, With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)That’s the answer: only God can save us. And in the name of Joshua, God promised Israel, and He promises us, that He will save us. Remember and believe: salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Confess that you and your sin are the greatest obstacles to your salvation, and thank God that your salvation is from the LORD. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction

How do we approach the book of Joshua, the story of the conquest of the promised land, the story of this great leader of Israel? The book is named after him, and his name is on every page.  He’s meant to be central in the story. His parents had called him, Hoshea.  Hoshea means, salvation.  But when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea along with eleven other men, he changed his name to Joshua.  Joshua means, salvation is from the LORD. That’s a promise; in fact, that’s the gospel.  And when the Lord sent His own Son into the world, He told Joseph and Mary to give Him that name, too. We think of Joshua as a history book.  But when the people of the old covenant described their Bible, there was no section called history books.  For them, it was simply, the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, or maybe, the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, or the Writings. And they put Joshua into the section called, the Prophets. That’s how we have to understand the message of Joshua: salvation prophecy.  Biblically speaking, prophecy means, in the first place, telling the wonderful works of God to save His people, because God’s actions in the past shed light on the future, and how God is going to save His people in Jesus Christ.  So this book is the gospel of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Joshua, and the gospel of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has defeated our enemies and causes us to receive the greater inheritance of a new heaven and a new earth. How can we be saved? Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9 There’s a lot of tension hanging over this opening passage of the book of Joshua.  In Genesis 13, the LORD promised Abraham that He would make his offspring as the dust of the earth and that He would give them the land of Canaan as their inheritance. 400 years later, Abraham’s offspring had become a nation that was growing in number, just like God had promised.  But the promise of the land was still unfulfilled.  Israel was standing on the border of the land at that moment.  If they climbed up one of the hills in the area, they could see the whole land, from north to south, and all the way out to the west, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. But they had been this close once before, forty years earlier, at Kadesh-Barnea.  That time, when they heard about the people who lived there and the fortified cities, they were afraid, and they started looking for someone to bring them back to Egypt.  What reason did Joshua have to think that this time things would go better than they had the first time?  The journey through the wilderness showed that Israel was an unbelieving, thankless, complaining people. There was no way that Israel would ever enter the land, and receive the inheritance God had promised them unless it was by grace and unless God did it for them.  And that was the gospel He proclaimed to them in the name of their leader: Joshua – salvation is from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer   Thank God that He has provided us with a salvation that is all His work, and that we receive by grace through faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario....

Daily devotional

June 30 – You shall not live by bread alone

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Deut. 8:3 Scripture reading: Deut. 8 Why do churches reject God? We see the slow degradation of churches in our neighborhoods. People will give any number of causes: not following the confessions or the church order, or external causes like TV, cellphones, rock music, the internet, cultural degradation or secular universities. Ultimately these are symptoms. The central problem is that we have forgotten God, His statutes and His rules. We have forgotten the Word: our Lord Jesus Christ. We have grown rich and tell ourselves that we ourselves have brought about the peace and prosperity that we experience. We have left our Bible on the shelf, or interpret it so it no longer pierces our hearts. We’ve forgotten what God did for us in Jesus Christ. We no longer desire to fully seek and obey every word that comes from God. We’re starving for spiritual food and seek to fill that hunger with the filth of entertainment, with vague platitudes of loving and respecting everyone, or with comfort. God warns us in Deut. 8, “If you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish because you would not obey the voice of the Lord.” If you love God, you will dig deep into His Word and seek Him. GodHimself encourages you in this task, “Strengthen yourself and be of good courage.” May He be with you. Suggestions for prayer Repent of your failures to put the Word at the center of your life. Seek the bread of the Word of the Lord and the strength of the Spirit in comprehending and applying that Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 29 – Elected unto victory

And when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. – Deut. 7:2 Scripture reading: Deut. 7:1-6 God lists seven nations “more numerous and mightier than you.” That is a fearful prospect, but God promises His help in taking the land. He will defeat their enemies. Why? Because they are His chosen people and a holy nation. You too are God’s holy people, His chosen nation, and are engaged in a battle against sin. The church also battles against the false ideologies that keep our neighbor in slavery. We can have confidence that God will use us to expand His glory. God promises to be with us. Since the World Wars, Orthodox churches in North America have been gloomy in their outlook on the future of the church. There is a sense that things will get worse and worse, and they have. Today, we fight against the lies of evolution, of homosexual activists, and of people within the church who give in to false ideologies. The church is failing in her calling. Deut. 7 reminds the church of the gracious electing purpose of God and should give her boldness in her mission. God promises to be with us in the task He calls us to. We now have maturity in Christ and know we are called to do this through a witness to our Lord Jesus, which means suffering. (We might lose our tax-exempt status, our Christian schools and our status in society.) It might even mean martyrdom. Remember Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:20, “Our God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may give us wisdom and confidence as we seek to stand before God and man as a witness to the righteousness of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 28 – Elected unto obedience

You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today. – Deut. 7:11 Scripture reading: Deut. 7:6-16 God, Who elected us is faithful. If Israel had no reason to doubt God’s favor, we certainly do not need to doubt it. He has shown us favor by giving us the gift of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Not only this, but He gives us the Holy Spirit who awakens us so that we might work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The unending faithfulness and love of God should teach us to respond to God’s election of us with thanksgiving for such an immeasurable grace. He has chosen us as His holy people to be holy. If God has chosen us to do good, then He will also enable us to do good. However, our remaining sin troubles us. Then we need to remember why God elected us. It isn’t because of who we are or how good we are, but because of God’s good pleasure. We can be confident that we will ultimately overcome and remain faithful. Because He is a faithful God, He has given us a way of righteousness. Christ’s victory and the Spirit He sends to us, gives us the strength to do good. In this way, God’s election is fulfilled in our lives. The Holy Spirit helps us fight against our old sinful nature. It is the doctrine of election that gives us certainty in our war against sin. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will continue to give strength in our war against indwelling sin. Pray for the assurance that comes from the Holy Spirit. Thank Him for the fullness of His almighty and powerful gift in Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 27 – Election and God's character

The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. – Deut. 7:8 Scripture reading: Deut. 7:1-11 In telling us of his decree of election, God reveals His character. He is full of love and compassion. He is faithful and keeps His promises. He is just and will hold the guilty responsible for their offence against a Holy God. Because of His character God has chosen a people for Himself, a treasured possession. They have extreme value to God because of His covenant. Their value does not come from themselves, but is based on God’s own faithfulness and love. God gives them their value. He has not chosen them because they were greater and mightier than other nations. Absolutely not. They were slaves in Egypt after all, and are entering a land where there are seven nations greater and mightier than they are. The basis for Israel’s election is not in any value that they have. God chose them on the basis of His good pleasure. God chooses us according to His plan, based on His good and holy will. His plan may seem arbitrary, but we cannot know the ways of God. We do know how He has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures, a just, holy and compassionate God. He has revealed the glorious doctrine of election so that we might have confidence that He will do what is necessary to bring His sons to glory. That gives us confidence as we live out our lives with fear and trembling. Our God is for us. Our response should be total thanksgiving and total devotion to our glorious God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the assurance He gives us through revealing the doctrine of election. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 26 – Covenantal allegiance

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deut. 6:7 Scripture reading: Deut. 6:20-25 In verse seven, the move from a call to live according to the love of God, to the call to educate one’s children may be a bit jarring. This call is not merely the “evangelization” of one’s children, but it is connected to the call for all covenant people to fear Him. God is working with Israel so that, “You may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son”(v.2). You are to teach your children because the promise belongs to them as much as to you. There is a sense of a new creation here. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden so he could commune with them. He brought Israel through the baptism of the Red Sea for the same purpose. He brought a people out of Egypt and put them in a new garden, the Promised Land, so that He may dwell among them. In the same way, God brings us through the baptism of Christ, or the death and resurrection of Christ, so that He may create a new people. As Paul says, “You are a new creation.” and Peter, “You are a holy nation.” Just as children belonged to the holy nation of Israel, so children belong to the holy nation that is the church today. But we cannot presume our children’s salvation any more than we can presume our own. They need the regeneration of God. God has given them His promises and we are obligated to train our children up in the fear of the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your children and pray that God may give you all that you need in raising them in the fear of the Lord. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 25 – Centered on God

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. – Deut. 6:5-6 Scripture reading: Deut. 6:4-9 God is one. He has one law, one Christ, one Spirit and one Bible. God calls us to worship Him in Spirit and Truth and to love His mercy and His justice. He calls us to love Him with heart, soul, and mind. With our heart: Our heart is our center; all things we do come from the heart, so it needs to be set on God. We can think of our heart as a compass. For accurate direction, the needle must be set toward the north. Our heart must always be directed toward God. We should be immersed in the Scriptures, the revelation of God, always seeking to obey it. With our soul: The soul refers to the whole animating force of the body and to all bodily action. To love God with our soul is to love Him with everything we do, to love God in the very way that we use our bodies. For example, when we stand at the beginning and end of worship, we honor God as we enter and leave His presence. With our mind: God teaches our hearts through the mind. We use our mind to contemplate God’s Word, to apply it to our lives, to judge those who live in disobedience to God and to judge those who teach heresy and error. In the freedom that Christ brings in the Spirit, the mind grows even more important in using the wisdom that comes from above to apply God’s Word. This is the way of flourishing. Suggestions for prayer Acknowledge your failure in loving God. We have all fallen short of God’s commands. We have only a small beginning of obedience to this, the greatest of all commands in this life. Seek God’s help in calibrating your life toward His righteousness. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveldis the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 24 – The only Holy God

Hear, Oh Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Deut. 6:4 Scripture reading: Deut. 6:1-6 There is more in these words than the assertion that God is one. If that was all this text was teaching, we might be left with the arbitrary God of the Muslims or the silent God of the Deists. The oneness of God reveals He is uniquely God, uniquely one in His love and promises to Israel. He is one in being and will. There is no contradiction or change in Him. There is no division or disagreement within Himself. We call this the simplicity of God. Any attribute of God describes the fullness of God. He is mercifully just. He is righteously loving. He is lovingly holy. The unique goodness of God, His constancy, His faithfulness, is something we can rely on. Those who claim that there are many ways to God, contradict the truth that God is one. God does not provide contradictory ways to Himself. In the Old Testament, the way was through the promise He gave to Abraham and through Israel, whom He set apart as holy. In the New Testament, that way is found in Christ. Israel was tempted by the teaching that there are many ways to God, just as we may be today. Remember the story of the golden calf? Israel had received the Ten Commandments and instead of waiting for God, they choose to directly contradict the second commandment. They set up an image of the Lord God, a golden calf. They replaced the center of God’s worship, drawing near to fellowship with God through sacrifice, with a golden calf. Suggestions for prayer Pray for growth in your relationship with the one true God. Seek His grace as you seek to love Yahweh before all other gods. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

Daily devotional

June 23 – God's prayer

Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! – Deut. 5:29 Scripture reading: Deut. 5:22-33 The Lord sees that Israel’s request for a mediator comes out of a recognition of who He is and who they really are. The request is a humble one. Israel recognizes her weak and sinful nature and that she does not have any inherent right to speak to God. God praises her for that and He grants her a mediator. But God goes further; He reveals something about Himself in the wish that He expresses in verse 29. He desires that the same heart that responded in a proper fear of God on hearing His voice on the mountain, would continue in that fear and keep all His commandments. God’s prayer should be at the forefront of the minds of all those who are tempted to question their salvation. God is not an arbitrary God, willfully sending some to hell and some to heaven. He is a God of compassion and love, Who desires that those who are in covenant with Him might live out the commandments that He has given them. He is a loving Father, for all who are willing to humble themselves before Him, recognizing their rebellious nature. This is because God has made men to glorify and enjoy Him forever. The fact that God chooses out a people for Himself is rooted in His loving nature. He has proven this through the cross of Christ. Ask, and He will give. He offers the sacrifice of Christ and the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in the task of living as a Christian. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for how He reveals a disposition of love and kindness toward His people. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB....

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