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Daily devotional

May 27 – The Most High rules the kingdoms of men

That the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men. – Daniel 4:17 Scripture readings: Romans 13:1-7; Daniel 4:13-18 Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream is fulfilled soon after he receives it in order to send a message that the LORD is sovereign over all. There is a lesson for us in this as well. We learn, by way of contrast, that the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom and the greatest way to escape the foolish pride and arrogance of living in our own strength. Living a self-centred life does not always have the catastrophic consequences that it did for Nebuchadnezzar, but it does result in a drifting away from God and a distancing of oneself from His care and protection. Who needs protection or mercy if you are strong and right? This is the boast of our own sinful hearts until the Lord intervenes to make us appreciate again how much we need Him in our lives. He appoints kings and councillors and numbers their days. He designates the length of a kingdom’s duration and sets the borders of nations with an authority that our international governing bodies do not possess. Moses, in Psalm 90, reminds us that our regular petition to the LORD should be to, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” ”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Let us learn from the LORD how He shows His favour to the lowly and gives grace to the humble who trust and believe in Him! Suggestions for prayer Teach us to number our days. Transform our hearts with godly wisdom and contentment. Humble us that we may receive Your grace. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 26 – Ignoring the warning of God

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. – Psalm 95:7 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-27; Psalm 95:6-11 The letter which Daniel circulated, in the king’s name, to the peoples is quite simple to understand. We have a warning followed by the very action being warned against. Perhaps, if you’ve been around younger children, you know what this experience is like: you warn children not to do something ... and then they go and do that very thing in front of you. Well, age is no protection from this type of foolishness and worse types of open rebellion against God. The audience who received this letter must have been stunned by what they read of the king’s downfall. Through Daniel’s influence, the king served as a temporary ambassador of the LORD most High by proclaiming that the Word of the LORD was true. Ignoring the warnings of God and turning from His counsel is to invite serious harm and consequences upon oneself. The Israelites understood this well, as Psalm 95 rehearses the wilderness rebellions. We are also able to understand this struggle. Yet the LORD instructs us through this king’s prideful rebellion against God that we would take to heart His admonition to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1Peter 5:6- 7). Through faith in Christ, “You may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4). Suggestions for prayer Father, teach us to listen to your instructions. Forgive us when we go astray. Renew us through Your Spirit so that we would respond gladly to your leading. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 25 – A lesson learned four times

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. – John 20:29 Scripture readings: Daniel 4:1-3; John 20:27-31 Men like Nebuchadnezzar take a long time to learn. In the first chapter, the king has the opportunity to see firsthand what the fear of God looks like, in the lives of the four men of Judah. In the second chapter, the king receives his vision and he is again reminded that it is the Lord of Israel who ministers truth to His people. In the third chapter, the king responds by building a big statue to ‘correct’ what the Lord had said about him and his dynasty, but the Lord reveals His power to Nebuchadnezzar. The fourth chapter shows that he continues to resist the will of God by resorting to his old ways. In Daniel 4:7, the king calls on the old fools who were previously revealed to be impotent liars and cheats. Finally, the king is brought low by God and turned into a beast. At last, after all this, Nebuchadnezzar is willing to have Daniel prepare an edict to go out to the peoples, nations and languages concerning the true God. Yet it might be best to title this letter in chapter four, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Momentary Perception of the True God.” The text of the fourth chapter of Daniel was probably composed by Daniel as a letter to be sent out under the king’s signature to the ends of his kingdom. Are you more eager than the king of Babylon to declare the signs and wonders the Most High God has made known to you? Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death, and the evil one. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 24 – Blessed be the God of Israel!

Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Scripture readings: Daniel 3:26-30; Psalm 107:1-9 Writing about the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar, Calvin wrote, “We must bear defamatory statements about us, for the time patiently, until the LORD shall shine upon us as the asserter of our innocence.” We don’t always know if we will be vindicated when we are confronted for the truth we proclaim concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the exclusive call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. The three men did not know if they would emerge from the fires or if they would succumb to their injuries. Nonetheless, they knew that the LORD would assert their innocence. In this instance, the LORD displayed their righteousness in a dramatic fashion and Nebuchadnezzar was astounded by the scene before his eyes. Despite the ferocity of his furnace, they weren’t harmed in any way! When Nebuchadnezzar addressed the gathered crowd, he came close to confessing the name of God, but the tragedy in this scene is that his proclamation was still an external acknowledgment and not an internal surrender to the LORD, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Under his banner, a proclamation went out that proclaimed the greatness of Yahweh, but it did not result in personal faith. Which brings us to this sobering reminder: it is not enough to know true things about God. We must trust in the LORD with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding or our strength or our own pride. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 23 – The fiery furnace and the fiery Presence

It shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Acts 2:21 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:18-25; Acts 2:1-21 Today is Pentecost and we marvel at the contrast between the fiery furnace that was kindled by Nebuchadnezzar in order to kill and the fiery presence kindled by the Spirit of God in order to make alive! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stamp out the servants of God while the Holy Spirit’s fire anointed them for the bearing of testimony to the nations! Nebuchadnezzar’s fire sought to stop the mouths of those who claimed, “Our God is able to deliver us,” while the Holy Spirit’s fire brought the power of God to a multitude who went forth proclaiming “Our God has delivered us through the man Who was crucified!” Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace was made powerless to harm by the presence of the Son of Man, while the Holy Spirit’s fiery presence in Jerusalem was made possible by the presence of the Son of Man Who was risen from the grave! The Son of Man interceded to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in an early preview of His great act of salvation, which the Apostle Peter proclaimed so powerfully to all who would listen on the day of Pentecost. The testimony continues to go out about Jesus Who was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for redeeming you from the powers of sin and death. Rejoice in the Lord’s goodness to you! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 22 – Who will deliver you?

If you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? – Daniel 3:15 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:8-18 The challenge for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that their lives depended upon their response to Nebuchadnezzar’s blasphemous reproach of their stance, against his directive to worship his golden image. Would they blaspheme God or would they defy Nebuchadnezzar? Interestingly, in this account, we don’t know what the rest of the community’s response was. It may be that many did bow while others tried, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, to abstain from this act of false worship. In any case, we know that the Lord can forgive even such blasphemous worship. The Lord has a will and a way of delivering a man like Naaman who had fallen before the gods of his peoples until he learned of the Lord’s instructions to him. The Lord could forgive those who had fallen into various forms of idolatry. And yet the Lord was calling on His people to consider well the example of these men. In Daniel 7, the saints are warned of the dogged persistence of the kingdom of darkness to wear down the resistance of God’s people. This is why the LORD gives us the whole armor of God to withstand these attacks. As Calvin reminds us, from the beginning, “The Church of Christ has been so constituted that death has been the way to life and the cross the path to victory.” Even to die a fiery death is not the worst thing for us – for we have been joined to the Son of God who has died for us! Suggestions for prayer Pray for relief for those who are being persecuted under unjust rulers. Pray for joy in the face of hardships. Pray that the LORD would teach us the way of full obedience to Him. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 21 – What was I supposed to do?

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Matthew 8:35-36 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:4-12; Matthew 8:28-34 We see the very heart on display which the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 1:22 of the wicked “claiming to be wise” yet “they became fools”. For it is only a fool that says, “The thing that the Lord has revealed to me, I will defy. In fact, I will double down on it by forcing all the peoples in my tribe, and in my city, and among all the nations to stand and bow before this declaration of warfare on God’s plan.” Nebuchadnezzar wanted a crowd of witnesses to join him as he proclaimed that, “What the Lord has said, shall not come to pass.” We must know how this turns out. Pride does not go unpunished. There is no excuse just because we find ourselves in a crowd engaged in the same defiant activity. The circumstances in your life where this occurs are less dramatic than the display in Daniel 3, but the call to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ continues to require the courage that is on display in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Apostle John made this need for courageous conviction plain in his letter to the church, “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage to follow Jesus as a witness of His love and truth. Pray for discernment to understand the subtle occasions for compromise in our lives. Pray for those who are being intensely persecuted. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 20 – I did it my way

Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. – Daniel 3:6 Scripture readings: Daniel 3:1-7; Revelation 18:1-8 What did the head of gold from the earlier vision go and do? He built an entire statue of gold! He made it plain that he was rejecting the message and rebelling against it. He is signalling to all who will listen, “Why should I be just the head if I can erect an image that exudes wealth, power and significance from head to toe?” The great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s own making was a billboard declaring his newfound disagreement with the prophecy of Daniel’s God. Had he taken the Word of God seriously, he might have built a statue with a golden head and explained to his people, “Look, there is another king who is coming and we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.” Nebuchadnezzar’s gold-plated display of defiance against the LORD symbolized his desire to allow no kingdom to destroy his dynasty. The fact that it occupied the site where the Tower of Babel was once constructed only adds to the irony of what he is attempting here. Today we are still in need of the Lord’s clear warning in Psalm 2 where we read, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” Today we are to remember that the LORD is in no way threatened by the forces of evil in this world Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would grant you joy in the face of opposition from the world. Thank Him for being patient with you in your weakness. Ask Him to give you a renewed resolve to serve Him without compromise. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 19 – We live in the day when the stone is revealed

Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery. – Daniel 2:47 Scripture readings: 1 Timothy 1:16; Daniel 2:46-49 Think of the reaction of God’s people when they beheld the forces of Darius the Mede standing in the throne room that Nebuchadnezzar had occupied with such splendour and seeming invincibility! Suddenly, as foretold in the vision, the great Babylonian Empire had fallen. The believers would have realized that this first stage in this vision had been completed. Later, when the exiles beheld the sudden and stunning overpowering of the middle Persian Empire by the forces of Alexander the Great, they must have wondered, “Is the next stage in this vision now being fulfilled?” And then when the forces of Rome overtook the mighty Greeks, scattered their armies, and took all their lands, they must have realized, “We are now getting near to the day of the stone!” While the reaction of King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 46-47 is significant, what matters more for the LORD is that His people grasp His messages to them! This means that we are to rejoice and delight because we live in the day of the stone which has been revealed from heaven! As Sinclair Ferguson said, “We need to remember that this great kingdom belongs to God. It is indestructible, victorious, eternal, and it is universal.” “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:6-7). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you peace in your circumstances as you await the day when you will enter the Promised Land of rest for all of God’s people. Pray for contentment when God’s plans for you seem hard to understand or experience. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 18 – When did the stone come on the scene?

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. – Daniel 2:44 Scripture readings: Luke 2:1-7; Daniel 2:40-45 When did the kingdom of the stone cut from the mountain without human hands begin? The answer is when Jesus came to earth as the incarnate Son of God. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy and His church – gathered from every tribe, tongue and nation – is the kingdom that shall never be destroyed. As Luke records for us, the Messiah was born of the Virgin Mary during the reign of the first emperor of Ancient Rome, Caesar Augustus. Far from the mighty corridors of power in Rome, a small child was laid to rest in a manger and a crowd of shepherds bore witness to His humble circumstances. Yet the LORD prepared His people – servants like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) – through the dream and its interpretation to look forward to the coming of the Greatest Kingdom the world has or ever shall see! At this stage in human history, we still live in a time where we do not yet see all things in obedience and subjection to the Lord (Hebrews 2:8). We do not yet see the fullness of the kingdom of God. But we are assured that nothing shall prevail against His kingdom (Matthew 16:18). In the end, on the last day, we are assured that the kingdom of God shall stand and all nations shall bow. All nations shall be crushed under that stone. Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 21:42, “Have you never read the scriptures, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Suggestions for prayer Father, may Thy Kingdom Come! Lead us in truth and righteousness. Prepare our hearts for the day of Christ’s coming. Strengthen our faith. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 17 – What the future holds for those God loves

A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure. – Daniel 2:45 Scripture readings: Daniel 2:31-39; Daniel 8:15-27 Daniel provided this interpretation of the king’s vision and he assigns only one specific name – Nebuchadnezzar’s – to the kingdoms described in the sequence of dynasties that would arise before being brought low by the stone carved by the God of heaven. With historical insight and the comparison we find to this vision in Daniel 8, we can conclude that Daniel prophesies of the rise and fall of the Babylonians (head), the Medo-Persians (chest & arms), the Greeks (torso & thighs), and the Romans (legs & feet). However, these kingdoms are relevant here because their boundaries would include the land of Judah. Consequently, the LORD’s message to Nebuchadnezzar must properly be seen as a message to the LORD’s people at the end of their period in exile and in the days of their return to Judah. He wants the children of God to know what the future holds. Not in absolute detail, but in enough detail to know how it ends: with the kingdom of heaven established upon the earth! Though Daniel tells this to Nebuchadnezzar, he is commanded by God to write this down for God’s people. The LORD’s Word concerning the life to come is chiefly for His people who can find comfort and courage to withstand trials and temptations of various kinds (1 Peter 1). The vision is all about God’s people in the end as He establishes a proper dwelling place for the temple of God – His people! Suggestions for prayer Pray for humility in our nation’s leaders to see that their authority is from God. Pray for patience in our hearts as we await the return of Christ. Pray for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the earth. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. This picture used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license from FreeBible Images.org....

Daily devotional

May 16 – All that glitters is not gold

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. – Psalm 1:4-5 Scripture readings: Psalm 1:4; Daniel 2:31-35 Daniel accomplished the very thing that Nebuchadnezzar’s advisors had said was impossible: he was able to describe the dream in the span of four verses because the LORD provided him with the knowledge of the dream and its interpretation. This reminds us of what Jesus said in another context that, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Before we move to the interpretation, it’s worth reflecting on the creative brilliance of this vision and the way the LORD gets His point across to this prideful ruler of the Babylonians. From a distance, this image was exceedingly bright and frightening as it stood before the king in his dream. This is like a super-charged totem pole with various metals arranged in layers. Yet the splendour and extravagance of the image were reduced to shreds by a greater object of divine origin – a stone that the king sees being carved from the mountain without human intervention! The original image, which terrified Nebuchadnezzar, was suddenly not his concern anymore. The stone obliterated the image and, as Daniel explained, it became a great image and filled the whole earth. I find a parallel here with Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians that, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong ... but remember, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:27-30). Suggestions for prayer Father, grant us insight into what matters most so that we would not be fearful, but rather live with confidence in Christ the Son through Whom life has come to our souls! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 15 – Facing certain death

This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God. – Jeremiah 26:16 Scripture readings: Jeremiah 26; Daniel 2:25-30 When Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD to Daniel’s predecessors in Judah before the exile, there were many who spoke against him to denounce his message of the judgment of God against their sins. They sought to have him killed for bringing the truth to God’s covenant people. Astonishingly, Daniel received a better reaction from the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar than Jeremiah received from those who had been given the Law and the Prophets and the covenant signs. Nonetheless, while King Nebuchadnezzar was more receptive to Daniel because of the intensity of his fear of the vision he’d received, he still challenged Daniel by asking, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel testified that the bankruptcy of those who said, “There is no one who can interpret your dream” was matched by the supremacy of the God in heaven Who reveals mysteries about “what is to be.” This God of heaven continues to send out messengers who have come to us with words of life so that you would sincerely believe and trust in Christ Who was crucified by those who rejected Him, but embraced by those who cherish Him. Therefore, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for a readiness to daily take up your cross as you follow Jesus. Praise God for bringing you His Word today. Ask the Lord to open the hearts of those who refuse to embrace Him as their Saviour. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 14 – He removes kings and sets up kings

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22   Scripture readings: Psalm 2; Daniel 2:17-24 Daniel believed that the LORD would deliver him and his friends from the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. We read that he told his friends to join him in seeking, “mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed.” He prayed to the true God and the LORD answered! He received the truth about deep and hidden things. As Daniel says in verse 23, the simplest summary of the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, is that the LORD removes kings and sets up kings. Our God is so great that we can not only bring our needs to Him, but we can also know that even the things we are not even aware of in this world, are all known to Him. So when we confront the hardest burdens, we can follow in the path of the faithful who cry out to the LORD above Who hears our petitions and answers our requests. When our prayers are answered, we do well to see the faith-filled response of Daniel in the psalm he composes as an act of worship in verses 20-23. The moment Daniel receives the answer, his first thought isn’t to rush out to Nebuchadnezzar, but instead, his first impulse is to worship the LORD of Lords. Our God is always delighted to hear our response of thanksgiving and joy after He grants us our requests, chiefly in Christ. The prayer of gratitude is the greatest expression of praise to the LORD! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the LORD for His revelation to you of the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Pray that you would further understand His Will in changing and challenging times in your life. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 13 – To His feet your tribute bring

May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! – Psalm 72:11 Scripture readings: Psalm 72:11-19; Daniel 2:17-23 Today is Ascension Day as we remember and celebrate the triumphal ascension into heaven of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:1-12). He is seated at the Father’s right hand and He is continuing to minister to us as our intercessor, friend, and deliverer! The joy we have, in this time of earthly absence, arises from the knowledge of what wondrous things the LORD has done for us! Jesus, the Lamb of God, has made full atonement for our sins and is now seated as our High Priest Who has offered the sacrifice for sins, so that He might secure a righteous peace for His Church to enjoy through all eternity. Ascension Day also served as a beginning of the final part of Jesus’ heavenly ministry of bringing all things to their fullest end. His Word goes out to the ends of the earth in these last days. What is the consequence of His ascension? The declaration of Psalm 2:10 is clear: “O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of this earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Daniel’s response of thanksgiving to God in verses 20-23 echoes the Psalmist’s declaration of coming judgment against the kings by means of the stone described in the vision Nebuchadnezzar received. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet your tribute bring! Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who, like me, His praise should sing? Praise the everlasting King! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Ascended Saviour Who ever lives and makes intercession for us! Pray for patience and readiness of heart as we await His Second Coming! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 12 – Swept up in the wrath of the King

Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. – Daniel 2:16 Scripture readings: Matthew 2:16-23; Daniel 2:12-16 Nebuchadnezzar was tired of the chattering of his enchanters, sorcerers and magicians. He was no longer interested in their vague methods of dream interpretation. He concludes that there’s only one more step to take. In his wrath, he commanded that all the wise men of Babylon and even the youths in the University of Babylon be destroyed. It’s a curious strategy that, under normal circumstances, would get him no closer to a solution to his dream problem. We know Daniel is in harm’s way. He tells the guard that he wishes to see the king who is spewing out wrathful commands and liable to kill anyone who upsets him. This is the moment that Daniel is chosen by God to go see the king. We wouldn’t plan it this way, would we? But then, we’re not God. We can stand in awe of God’s plan for His people – especially when we see how contrary it is to the things we would come up with on our own. In the verses ahead, Daniel will be given the words to speak so that he would be spared death. The marvel of the Gospel is that the Son of Man willingly laid down his life to endure God’s righteous wrath against our sin. Because of this, God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom of this world to be revealed as foolishness. Pray for God’s love to drive away your fears. Praise Him for sending His Son to die in your place as a sacrifice and substitute for you. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 11 – Only God knows

Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 3:10 Scripture readings: Ephesians 3:1-10; Daniel 2:8-11 Daniel was not the first person called to Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He was a good student, but he was not first on the list of dream interpreters in Babylon. After all, he was one of the Jews and not a sophisticated wise man or pagan sorcerer. Nebuchadnezzar’s terror because of the dream he received was amplified by his realization that his advisors were cheats, swindlers and liars. Whatever their dark arts, they did not have a way to bring him the truth. Normal dreams don’t provoke such a reaction, but this was no ordinary dream that Nebuchadnezzar received. The frantic search for truth on Nebuchadnezzar’s part brought him to a state of fear that positioned him to be ready, by the Lord’s doing, to receive the word of a young messenger from the Lord. In your life, the Lord works this way as well. While He doesn’t use dreams with you, He does awaken our consciences to truths about ourselves that we know only God knows! The fear this creates in our hearts is calmed by the message of God which He also is pleased to bring to us through His Word! Do you make time to learn from God’s Word each day? Do you seek answers to life’s questions in the Bible? When you face a fearful realization of guilt, do you know that your security rests in the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the Word made flesh so that He might deliver you from fear and death? Praise the Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the gospel to bring you greater comfort. Pray for a blessing on your meditation upon God’s Word. Pray for messengers to go out to the world’s rulers and the world’s lowliest inhabitants to bring these words of life! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 10 – Surely no one knows such a thing

Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:17 Scripture readings: Ephesians 5:11-16; Daniel 2:1-7 There are many discoveries packed into chapter two! Nebuchadnezzar learns that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. His sorcerers discover that their charade is over and they’ve been found out. Daniel discovers the Lord’s gifts to him are reliable and a reason for him to offer humble praise to the LORD. And God’s people learn that the unfolding of human history is known by God and foreordained by Him for His good pleasure! The complaint of the sorcerers of Babylon is quite understandable, isn’t it? “How can we tell you something about things you’re not sharing with us? Surely no one can know what you saw in your dream, Nebuchadnezzar.” The conclusion that the sorcerers were blind to – but a truth which has been revealed to you in the pages of Scripture – is that it is the LORD Who reveals His will and it is the LORD Who directs the affairs of human history. As the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’ -- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” Do you understand what a gift it is to receive God’s Word of Life? As Daniel perceived, it is the greatest gift to hear the voice of the LORD in His revealing Word and to know that our Shepherd King is coming to judge the living and the dead. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD will bring you joy as you serve Him and follow His commands. Pray that the blind will see and the spiritually deaf will have their ears opened to hear the will of the Lord for our salvation. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 9 – Humbled that we might be lifted up

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? – Isaiah 53:8 Scripture readings: Isaiah 25; Isaiah 52:10-53:12 Every Lord’s Day, we are called to worship the LORD together as we celebrate the grace of God freely given to us in Jesus Christ. We do so with great joy because the Good News of our new life in Christ Jesus is extraordinarily good news to receive – whether we’re hearing it the first time or the thousandth time! In the midst of such joy, as part of our worship together, we also share together in a time of confession of sin that is humbling and sobering. We acknowledge that the LORD is good, that we are sinners, and that we need to and desire to hear the glad tidings of His forgiveness and reconciliation of our sins. As we take stock of the story of Daniel being a man of God, living with a fear of God, we should ask ourselves, “What are our expectations?” The book of Daniel is often held up as a story of triumph by way of morality. “Love God, give up a few things for Him, and you’ll be successful.” The danger of pride is great when we view our relationship with God like this. Even Christ was humbled unto death so that He might be exalted. The only triumph we are assured of in this life is the triumph of Christ Jesus over the powers of sin and death! The only hope we have rests in His humiliating death on the cross and His glorious resurrection that we celebrate on this day of resurrection joy! Suggestions for prayer Father, help us to remember who we are as sinners in need of your grace every day of our lives. Teach us to walk in repentance, faith and the joy of Christ. Open our hearts to grow in humility and holiness through your Holy Spirit. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 8 – Daniel the prophet

Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? – Esther 4:14 Scripture readings: Esther 4:1-17; Daniel 1:20-2:6 One of the challenges of the book of Daniel is that the first six chapters read like a story and the latter six like an account of one man’s strange dreams. We find it easier to read the story part and harder to read the dream sections, right? It can be helpful to ask what Daniel’s purpose is. Does he act as a deliverer or a prophet? Does he intervene for the well-being of God’s people like Esther when she spoke up to King Xerxes to avert a disastrous genocide in Persia? Looking closely, Daniel doesn’t actually serve God’s people as their deliverer even though he is in a high position. He opposes the king’s edicts, but he doesn’t lead a revolution. He warns the king of his pride, but doesn’t put a stop to the taunting of the exiles by the Babylonians (Psalm 137:3). The Lord raised up Daniel to chiefly serve as His prophet. He is not their champion, but he is their teacher of what it means to live with a fear of God. The text tells us in verse 17 about this calling to interpret visions and the remainder of the book shows us Daniel’s primary role as a messenger of the LORD to God’s people. The LORD anointed Daniel with His Spirit so that Daniel might proclaim God’s favour and covenant faithfulness to His people. Daniel and Esther foreshadow different aspects of Jesus’ ministry of revelation and redemption (Hebrews 1:1-4). Both are required and bring blessing to you! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would continue to reveal His truth to you! Praise God that He is both our Redeemer and the One who reveals the Way, the Truth, and the Life to us! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 7 – The turning point

I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:5-6 Scripture readings: Psalm 13; Daniel 1:18-21 The experience of the people of Judah in exile was not a happy one. They would suffer indignities and distress. They would weep on account of their wrongdoings and they would watch as the temptations of Babylonian life swept away many of their brothers who left the faith. Would they always be troubled? The experience of Daniel and his three friends declares quite clearly: no, it will not always be so! It is God’s sovereign will to save His people! Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s gifts from God are revealed to a watching world and He grants them all favour with King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a turning point – a moment when the blessing is visible again for God’s people. They are in exile, but the Lord is now acting to deliver Daniel and his friends from the expected outcome of their time in the training grounds. In Daniel 1:9 we read that, “God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the eunuchs.” It stands out as a relief and a delight to read of the LORD again showing favour and compassion to His people after all that they have (deservedly) gone through! I’m reminded of the question of the psalmist who cries to the LORD in Psalm 13, “Will you forget me forever?” And the psalm reflects on the turning point we all face in our lives when we remember that, “He has dealt bountifully with me.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for answering our humble cries for mercy and forgiveness! Express your gratitude for His gifts to you. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 6 – An object lesson for an exiled people

In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. – Daniel 1:20 Scripture readings: Psalm 66:16-20; Daniel 1:15-17 The whole reason that the people of Judah were in Babylon is that they had forsaken the way of God in exchange for the ways of the surrounding nations. Their lives were now a tragic example of what the judgment of God looks like. What should they do when their exile was a consequence of their unfaithfulness to God? The answer is simple. Be faithful to the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He can intercede and aid you in your distress. As the wise Teacher in Proverbs 3:5-6 taught Daniel and his friends, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” The outcome of such belief in the LORD will look different for you than it did for Daniel and his friends. You probably won’t rise as high as Daniel did or become as strong a student as they managed to. Nonetheless, the simple commitment to live with integrity and the fear of God is the answer to the question, “What should I do in the midst of these hardships?” The Lord dramatically displayed His will to set apart His servants for His purposes in the life of Daniel and He continues to display His will in your life, as you serve Him with thanksgiving for the life you have gained in Christ Jesus. Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to help you to find joy and strength in the midst of the trials you are going through. Ask the LORD to help you to remember that your faith is grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ who has forgiven your sins and given you new life in Him! Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 5 – The fear of God in action

God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. – Daniel 1:17 Scripture readings: Hebrews 4:14-5:10; Daniel 1:5-17 The setup of the cultural assimilation project was completed by the end of verse 7. The young men of Judah would be persuaded to forsake their old god and old culture by living a life of comfort, culture, and advancement. They would take on their identities expressed in the names of the pagan gods Bel and Nebo which were woven into their new names. They would become good Babylonians. This is what makes verse 8 so awesome! The food and wine from the king’s table were linked with the religious rituals of the king’s gods and therefore Daniel and his three friends resolved to have no contact with it. The actions of these godly youths were to serve as an object lesson for an exiled people of what the fear of God looks like in action. Every time that this story is read of their refusal to participate in cultic religion, God’s people are shown what the fear of God looks like in action. Daniel and his friends stand in the godly fear of Noah in Genesis 6:8 and they foreshadow the righteous man, Jesus Christ, who would not turn aside to the left or the right or be defiled in any way. In the story of Daniel, a portrait of Christ emerges. He too was given a new name, Son of Man. He came to a worldly place, the world of sinners. He too was tested and tried in every way so that we might receive His unblemished and undefiled righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world so that we might be saved! Pray that the LORD will build us up in the fear of God so that we will face challenges with godliness and wisdom. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 4 – Into the world

They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. – Daniel 1:5 Scripture reading: Galatians 1:3-10; Daniel 1:1-7 Welcome to the University of Babylon! As part of an assimilation strategy, King Nebuchadnezzar provided for the education of the prominent youth of the exiles from Judah so that he might strip away their foreign ways and bring them into service in Babylonian society. Daniel and his young friends were, in the plan of the king, going to be more valuable to his empire than the cups of gold and silver that he had taken from their temple. Their introduction to success in Babylon is the thing that would strip them of their past loyalties and family ties. They had no path to success in Jerusalem anymore. They had a clear path to success in Babylon if they followed the program of study and cultural immersion into Babylonian life. Youths of this age in Judah were supposed to be learning the Torah – the catechism of their people. Now their lesson book was being swapped for the catechism of the Chaldean empire and religion. These youth also had their Hebrew, God-fearing names replaced with Babylonian, false-god worshipping names. Yet, as we will see, we know the Lord is strong to save! We know He guards His servants who call on Him in prayer. We know He walks with us in this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) that He might deliver us at the appointed time. We see this in Daniel’s life and we can certainly see this in our own lives in this world as well. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord. Pray for discernment to see how the Lord’s Word speaks to the circumstances you are in each day. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 3 – Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet

Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. – Jeremiah 23:2-3 Scripture reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8; Lamentations 1:1-6 It’s alarming to think about the LORD’s perspective on the sins we commit against Him. We can’t escape the knowledge that our sins deserve judgment. God brought judgment upon the people of Judah because of their false worship and rebellion against Him. He did so by bringing the Babylonian army down upon them in three successive invasions. Every time that the Babylonians came, as God’s tool of justice against His covenant people, they took more of the Jews back to Babylon with them. This is how Daniel and his friends ended up in a city far from home in the midst of a pagan and prideful society. How could such a thing happen to them? They were just young men caught up in a calamity! Daniel and his friends ended up in Babylon because of other people’s sins. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, it is no surprise that sinfulness and rebellion against God have consequences in our lives and we frequently experience the consequences of the sins of others. Yet, we must acknowledge our own sin before God and confess our need for His forgiveness. This was the intended outcome of the exile of God’s people: that they would all repent of their sinfulness and be reconciled to God. The warning of coming judgment must also stir our hearts to fully confess our sin to the LORD and to rejoice in the freedom He grants to us in Christ Jesus our Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would show you the seriousness of your sin and the richness of His forgiving grace to you! Pray for guidance as you endure hardships and strive to grow in holiness and godliness as you serve the Lord today. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 2 – History and His story

The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. - Daniel 1:2 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 23:36-24:6; Daniel 1:1-2 Have you heard the saying that “all history is His Story”? The history of this world ultimately tells the story of the LORD’s holy will being worked out in time and therefore it is His story. A good example of this is in the opening two verses of the book of Daniel. In the first verse, we read that the covenant community of Judah was attacked by a foreign power and didn’t stand a chance against the mighty forces of the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian history books would tell us that their powerful armies were the reason they found success in conquering lowly Jehoiakim the King of Judah. Yet the LORD provides us with insight in the second verse that changes the picture: He gave the king into the hand of the Nebuchadnezzar. While vs. 1 describes a military showdown, vs. 2 provides us with an account of Who is really in control! It is the LORD Who gave the king, the people, and the temple of Judah into the hands of the Babylonians. He did this because of Judah’s sinfulness and rebellion against Him (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). He did this to display to His people the deep need we have for deliverance. He did this to prepare His people to receive their Saviour Who can bring joy and life to a dying and broken people. As we rest and worship on this Lord’s Day, we can rejoice together as we view our life stories in the context of His Story. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for delivering us from our bondage to sin and the powers of the evil one. Pray for strength to withstand temptation. Ask the LORD to increase your trust in Jesus Christ alone for deliverance from the powers of evil in this world. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the month of May

What does it look like to live in the midst of a pagan culture that does not honour or listen to God? What insights are there for us when we face a future that is filled with reports of hardship and unsettling predictions? The oracles of God and the testimony of Daniel and his three friends in the Book of Daniel are very relevant to the times in which we are living. This story of faith in the midst of fiery trials is a powerful lesson for all who face hardship and fears while walking by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we will read the first four chapters and reflect on the message of Daniel – a vivid and descriptive book filled with visions, dramatic moments, and the ultimate reassurance that the LORD is sovereign over all things. There are several remarkable characters in these pages of Scripture and every one of them has a message to tell us in our time of awaiting the end of our pilgrimage (1 Peter 2:11-12). You will meet villains who oppose the LORD and His anointed (Psalm 2:2). You will meet a few good men and follow along with their growth in character and holiness before God while in exile (Psalm 1:1-2). You will meet the Lord’s messengers who bring words of light to a people who walk in the midst of much darkness (Psalm 104:1-4). If you would like to explore the message of Daniel in more depth this month, I would recommend to you the Bible commentaries written by Sinclair Ferguson (The Preacher’s Commentary Vol 21) and Iain Duguid (Reformed Expository Commentary). Both of these gifted teachers have also recorded sermons on the book of Daniel which can be found on the monergism.com website. Our prayer is that we will see more fully the way that God’s people can have hope and confidence in the work of Jesus for us as sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. How could this be happening to me? Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. – Revelation 19:5 Scripture reading: Revelation 19:4-8; Daniel 1:1-6 In the midst of the hardships brought about by this ongoing global pandemic, the Lord’s Word provides us with a powerful reminder that He is in control of all things. He is sovereign. Everything which happens, He has willed for it to happen. If your life has been upended by the events of the past year, there is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Nothing in this world happens to us by chance. Rather, the Lord our God is actively caring for us through the trials of our lives. This is an important theme that helps us to understand the story of Daniel and the exiles who went to Babylon from Judah in the 7th century BC. As we read through Daniel together this month, I hope you will remember the words of praise that John the Apostle hears in the heavenly places in Revelation 19:5. The people of God rejoice because they can see the full picture and they are sure that the Lord will triumph! The LORD is to be praised because He is strong to save. We also, while reading of hardships to be endured by God’s people, can know that there is an end in sight to everything which God has said will take place, until His name is fully glorified and His people are able to enter into our everlasting resting place with God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being the One who comforts us in all our affliction. Pray for the humility to submit to God’s will for our lives and to rejoice that He is the most important character in our life story. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 31 – The pillars of the exodus

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! – Psalm 107:14-15 Scripture reading: Psalm 107:1-22 God has been the central character in the story of the Exodus. We pray that in your readings this month you have been blessed to see the LORD’s hand of mercy and power in action. Throughout the Bible, we have references to these majestic moments which God brought about in Egypt. One pillar of our faith is our confidence that a greater exodus has occurred in Christ! You can’t read Psalm 107 vs 14 without thinking about Jesus’ ministry of life through His death on the cross. He has brought us out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst our bonds apart. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to bring glory to His name and to reveal His saving purposes. Another great pillar of our joy in Christ is the truth that He has borne our burdens and atoned for our sins so that we have nothing to fear on the Great Day of the Lord. When He comes again to judge the living and the dead, we shall stand with Him and know complete joy and peace in His presence! The coming at midnight of the destroyer of the firstborn in Egypt vividly foreshadows a greater scene we shall soon witness. In the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God gave His people tangible testimonies of their salvation and further sanctification. In Christ and by His Spirit, we are given a greater assurance of these good blessings from our Heavenly Father in our baptism and the Lord’s Supper. So “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). Suggestions for prayer Ask our Gracious Father, to embolden us as His witnesses in a world that constantly rejects Him and His Word. Pray for Him to sanctify us by His Spirit and make us ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 30 – Life in the shadow of your wings

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Saviour of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. – Psalm 17:7-9  Scripture reading: Psalm 17 With all that we have rehearsed thus far, are you more persuaded than ever that the LORD is mighty, merciful, and most gracious towards His people? He heard their cries and He appointed Moses to be their deliverer and leader. He spared Moses and then provided Moses and the people with His Word and Holy Name to assure them that they would be freed. The LORD was with His people through all their distress and He never once looked away from them. He provided clear symbols to Israel of the special place she occupied before God. He demonstrated His Sovereign power over all of creation through the complete upheaval of the natural world in Egypt and He demonstrated His gracious mercy through the provision of the blood of the Lamb to spare them on the night of Judgment. Consider what the LORD has done! He provided a potent symbol of the atonement from the judgment wrath of God in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. And He sheltered them under His wings so that the threat of the judging destroyer was turned because of the LORD our Guardian’s presence. Now consider what He has done for you. He hears your cries! He responds to your plea for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. He provides you with His Word and assurance of freedom. He has shown you Christ, the Son, dying in your place and rising for your new life! He shelters you daily under His wings so that there is no condemnation and no fear of death in this life or judgment in the life to come! Suggestions for prayer Praise God from whom all blessings flow! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 29 – Life without the leaven of pagan Egypt

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' – Exodus 13:7-8  Scripture reading: Exodus 13:1-13, 16; Isaiah 26:1-15, 20-21 “Passover is about getting saved,” writes Phillip Ryken. “It reminds us that we have been delivered from death by a perfect substitute whose blood was shed as a sacrifice for our sins. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us what God wants us to do once we’ve been saved, and that is to live a sanctified life, becoming more and more free from sin.” The LORD uses the symbol of leaven as a vivid teaching lesson. What’s leaven? I’m not a foodie so I had to look this up: “It’s a bit of dough that is kept unbaked from the previous day’s baking and added to the next day’s batch of dough so that it would start the fermentation process there also.” Discarding that lump from their time as Egyptian slaves was a “gesture that symbolized leaving behind all Egyptian influences that might work their way through their lives and corrupt them.” In Joshua 24 we’re told that the fathers in Egypt had idols that they were flirting with - even as God was preparing to redeem them out of Egypt. That same idolatrous leaven, inherited from the nations around them, was to be cleansed from their midst in this Feast of Unleavened Bread. You’re exposed to all kinds of influences in your life - and so many things, like our culture’s view of sexuality, identity, wealth, entertainment and the like, can easily seep in. Yet the LORD sets before us this vivid reminder that He has saved us and calls us to daily live a sanctified life in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD would further sanctify you and cause you to grow more and more in holiness through Christ and by His Spirit! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 28 – Life after the night of watching

And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. – Exodus 12:37-38 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:29-51 Life for Pharaoh after the judgment was one of shock, bewilderment and watching the people of the Hebrews go out despite his best efforts to keep them. The night of deliverance for Israel was a night of devastation for the Egyptians. They realize this and say, “If they don’t go, we shall all be dead.” It’s fascinating that in verse 38 we’re specifically told that “a mixed multitude also went up with the Israelites.” It shows that for some of the Egyptians and other non-Israelites, they sought life after the night of judgment on the firstborn of Egypt by joining with the Lord’s people in their exodus from the land. They sought blessing from the LORD and joined His people. This models for us what our very own message of life after the night of deliverance on the cross of Calvary must always be! We also are to proclaim what has happened so that a “mixed multitude” would join with us in our ongoing exodus from the sin and temptation we find in this world. We are also to tell others this truth of God’s deliverance in our continued earthly pilgrimage while we await the heavenly city which is set to be revealed in the days to come! By God’s mercy, a host of Egyptians and non-Israelites believed and were given a place within the covenant community! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Gospel to grip the hearts of friends, neighbors, and loved ones who do not yet believe in Jesus and follow Him! Pray that our thankful and holy living would be an attractive sight in the midst of so much despair in this world and lead many to Christ. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 27 – Life during the night of death

It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. – Exodus 12:42  Scripture reading: Exodus 12:33-51; 2 Peter 3:1-13 What is this watching? It’s more than observing from a distance. It’s a word meaning sheltering or caring for or protecting. Our translation follows the Latin translation of the Hebrew to use the word ‘pass over’ in verse 23 to say that the LORD will ‘pass over the door’ and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you. We can sometimes think of this almost like God ‘skipping by’ the houses of the Israelites, saying, “Oh, not that one.” But there’s more here. In the night of judgment, God actively protects and guards His people. The LORD watched over these homes, like an eagle hovering with outstretched wings over a nest, so that the destroyer would not enter. This is the imagery we find in Exodus 19:4 where God reminds them, “You have seen how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.” Here’s the big point: it’s true of the judgment which is still to come! God will not merely skip by those who believe in Him. He will actively shelter you beneath His wings while judgment falls upon the heavens and the earth! God will hold you tight and secure. You won’t ‘miss’ the judgment as it skips you. You will be taken from the scene of judgment so that you will only behold it while resting secure in the arms of your Saviour! Christ spent three days in the tomb - watching over you! He sealed you with Him into His tomb of death - so that you might also rise with Him! Suggestions for prayer Thank our Merciful Father for sparing us and covering us in His arms of love, mercy, and peace! Rejoice in His Covenant Faithfulness to His Chosen People and pray that many more would find peace and rest in Christ Jesus. In the words of Psalm 17, “Hide me in the shadow of your wings” so that I “will not fear the terror of the night” (Psalm 91) This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 26 – Life when the destroyer comes

None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. – Exodus 12:22-23 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:21-38 Now God is poised and ready to strike Egypt for her sins against the LORD and His people. The previous plagues left the land of Goshen like a shining light, unscathed and untouched, but now God is saying, “This is a judgment that shall strike all.” In Genesis 7, Noah was commanded to enter the ark and not to leave it. We’re told that God sealed the doors of the ark before sending the waters of judgment. Now the LORD commands them to enter their homes and not to leave them. The Israelites’ very dwelling places became a way to pass through the judgment as their doors were sealed with the blood of the lamb – sealed up to pass through unscathed in the night of death in Egypt. One lamb’s life is shed and blood poured out for the many who gathered within and they are sealed into these vessels of deliverance from God’s wrath and just judgment of sin. The destroyer went out and struck all the firstborn – see how specific verse 29 is. God showed no favouritism – the highest born to the lowliest. The only difference on this judgment day was whether they were covered by the blood of the lamb. Even before their Exodus from Egypt and the power of Pharaoh, they must pass through the judgment ordeal which God is sending by the hand of His destroyer. And who can stand when the angel of death appears? Only those who are sealed and covered by the blood of the Lamb! Suggestions for prayer Pray for our Heavenly Father to make us ready for the Day of Judgment and make us thankful for the way of escape He has provided to us. Ask Him to renew our confidence in His unfailing promises to deliver us from all harm and the judgment to come! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 25 – Life before the night of judgment

When your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” – Exodus 12:26-27 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-32; Psalm 91 God’s people were to take a lamb into their homes, care for it for four days and then kill it at twilight. Especially for the children, this must have been shocking! "Dad, what are you doing?" And when they said this, their fathers were to answer: “It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” God had His people make special preparations packed with meaning as a display of their faith in the face of judgment. They were to honour the LORD’s Passover by killing the lamb on the fourteenth day, marking their dwellings with its blood, and remaining within these blood-marked dwellings until the dawn broke. And, in a truth that is profoundly significant, the blood of one lamb would cover the life of all who dwelt in that blood-marked dwelling. In Egypt, all who acted in faith were delivered, while all who ignored His promised coming saw death’s cold hand in their homes. Do we similarly live with faith in the face of God’s coming judgment? The LORD has decreed that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. In Luke 18, Jesus Christ asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Be sure that you are trusting in Jesus, the Lamb of God who has been provided for you and enables you to live with confidence as you await the coming JudgmentDay! Suggestions for prayer Tell our Gracious God that we cherish His wondrous love and the Lamb Whom He has provided to us for our deliverance! Thank Him for His Blood and Righteousness which gives us both forgiveness of sins and righteousness in His Presence! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 24 – Reset your clocks to Exodus time

This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. – Exodus 12:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-2; Hebrews 4:1-13 Have you ever thought of why we gather for worship services on the first day of the week? Christians, ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, have gathered on the Lord’s Day to worship and break bread together. We gather on the day of our victory in Christ! We gather on the day when our guilty verdict was replaced with the verdict of our vindication in the resurrection of our Saviour! The Christian Church, in the hope and joy of the resurrection, established a new starting point to the Sabbath celebration in the aftermath of Christ’s victory. Where the LORD appointed a Sabbath rest for believers before the coming of Christ that required labor for six days and then a day of rest, we consciously see that now we begin each week in the Sabbath rest we enjoy in Christ and then we carry out our callings in the aftermath of our reconciliation in Him! We are living in the aftermath of our glorious exodus from the grave in Christ our Risen King! This pattern of orienting our lives to the great works of God was shown to us in the first place at creation, and we see this in Exodus 12 when the LORD marks out a new highlight on the peoples’ calendars and tells them to reset their clocks to exodus time. When God carries out His work of redemption, it permanently impacts the shape and rhythm of our lives! Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD for the spiritual rest that we enjoy in Christ! Praise Him for His wondrous acts of reconciliation and deliverance! Ask Him to move our hearts to gratefully worship Him on this coming Lord’s Day as we give witness to and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and our exodus from the grave in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 23 – Not a dog shall growl against you

Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die... There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. – Exodus 11:5-7 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:4-10 This is a fascinating comment here about the dog’s growl. This is more than just a way to say that the Israelites won’t suffer even a scratch. On such a night with so much death in the land, one god of the Egyptians would be especially busy. Anubis, god of the dead and embalming who was represented like a dog in Egyptian images. And on this night, God declared, “The dog shall not growl against any of the people of Israel.” It’s as if the LORD is saying, “Your dog-god will be busy, Pharaoh, dealing with all your dead bodies – but won’t even growl against my people! For I will spare my people so that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” How amazing this is! And the story becomes even more amazing when we see the provisions that the LORD set in place for His people to be spared His fierce anger and powerful hand of vengeance. In the next few chapters, the LORD makes His people prepare for the night of terror in Egypt. He sets them apart and sets a covering over them to guard so that not a dog shall growl nor shall a single hair be touched by the LORD’s avenging angel. In Romans 9, we read of how God says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then, Paul reminds us, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for protecting and preserving your life and granting you the righteousness of Jesus Christ your Saviour! Praise Him for securing the salvation of His people and guarding us against the powers of death. Thank God for His Mercy! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 22 – He will let you go from here

The LORD said to Moses, "Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.” – Exodus 11:1 Scripture reading: Exodus 11:1-3; Exodus 3:13-22 In human history, great warriors have made a name for themselves by winning on the battlefield. But God does something far more amazing than win on the plain of battle against an outmatched Egyptian army. He takes up, with His hand, the very things He has created in the beginning and wields them like His Sword. We can say that creation plays an active role in Israel's release from slavery. The LORD unleashes natural powers and also brings them to a conclusion. Both are remarkable! If you remember, God attacked the symbol of Egypt, the serpent, in the first sign. Then, in the first plague of blood, there was a visible symbol of coming bloodshed. It was a warning sign. Then God attacked the Nile again when He made frogs come forth from the Nile to again bring a defiling presence into the land. Then God attacked the land (plagues 3-6) and then He attacked the sky (in plagues 7-10). God struck the three great sources of so-called divine powers in Egypt: the Nile, the Land and the Skies. By the end of it, Stephen Dempster explains, “The people must think that it is as if all of creation has become unhinged.” What was the right response? To acknowledge and worship God alone! As the Apostle Paul explains, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Suggestions for prayer Pray to our Father in Heaven, His name be hallowed! His awesome deeds give us hope and confidence in His constant care for us. Thank Him for the light of the knowledge of the glory of God which He has shone in our hearts! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 21 – God commands the darkness to swallow Egypt

They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. – Exodus 10:23 Scripture reading: Exodus 10:21-29; John 12:27-50 To blot out the light of the sun over the whole land of Egypt for three days is incredible. To simultaneously provide light to the people of Israel is even more incredible! In Egypt, they worshipped the sun god Ra who rose steadily every morning and then departed into the place where Egyptians believed death dwelt. But they always expected the light to return – and sure enough, through the rotation of the earth, the sun would reappear and the Egyptians would be heartened, thinking, “Our god has come through death’s place and returned to us alive and so shall we also be sustained!” The ninth plague begins without warning and it strikes a powerful blow to the whole idea of Egyptian worship of the sun god Ra. Where is this god who is suddenly cast down? For three days they experienced a darkness so thick and oppressive that they were filled with the terrors of the night. They knew the sense of dread that perhaps the sun and its light would never return. And what was the response of the Egyptians to be? The same response that many gave in Luke chapter 7 when Jesus performed a miracle in their presence: “And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’" (Luke 7:15-16). The LORD continues to reveal His glory and might in creation and calls us all to follow Christ Jesus with eager devotion and persistent gratitude. Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy God, for His awesome deeds and wondrous power! Thank Him that Christ Jesus is our Lamp and Shining Light in the midst of the world’s darkness. Thank Him for being the Light of the World! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 20 – God commands the heavens to strike and the locusts to destroy

“By now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Exodus 9:15-16 Scripture reading: Exodus 9:13-21; Psalm 29 Pharaoh’s sorcerers were humiliated. These lurking shadows, with power to frighten Pharaoh and wield authority in Egypt, were driven away by their boils in the last plague. Whatever threat they possessed was neutralized. They are never mentioned again. Egypt’s whole system of command and control is being decimated by these waves of judgment on Egypt. And the LORD explains what He is doing: "I am showing you My power so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth!" This is the whole point of the plague cycle. The LORD’s power is being shown in increasing magnitude. “The hail, rain, thunder and fire came as a barrage,” writes Phillip Ryken, “an opening of the arsenal of judgment to pour out his deadly wrath on Egypt.” So Pharaoh’s servants ask, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?" This judgment scene in the Old Testament serves as a preview of the all-out destruction that shall occur on the Last Day. As a hymn writer puts it, At His call the dead awaken, rise to life from earth and sea; all the pow'rs of nature, shaken by His looks, prepare to flee. Careless sinner, what will then become of thee? But to those who have confessed, loved and served the Lord below, He will say, "Come near, ye blessed, see the kingdom I bestow; you forever shall My love and glory know." Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the LORD’s goodness that ‘the free gift following many trespasses brought justification’ for all who believe in Jesus Christ! Ask the LORD to give you courage as you testify of the blessings which you have received through His grace to you! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 19 – God commands the animals to die and the dust to bring distress

“The LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.”And the LORD set a time, saying, "Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land." And the next day the LORD did this thing. – Exodus 9:4-6 Scripture reading: Exodus 9:1-12 God has an amazing way of getting His point across, doesn't He? He has said to Pharaoh, “You shall let my people go and you shall know that I am the LORD.” Now the signs and judgments are being displayed for all to see and they are steadily increasing in power and consequences until at last God will slay every firstborn of Egypt and then drown the remainder of the powerful of Egypt in the Red Sea! The LORD’s purpose in all this activity in Egypt was to make His name known among the nations and to bring His treasured people out of their bondage into the land of promise. Those two great purposes – to glorify God and restore the Israelites to the land of the promise – are on full display here. He strikes all the beasts of Egypt, but spares all that belonged to the Israelites. And then, the very dust which coated the Hebrew slaves from the brick kilns of their slavery is cast upon Pharaoh and his hosts and they are oppressed by these wretched boils. Even still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. One godly congregant wrote recently, “Pharaoh grieves me. He grieves me because his hardened heart and unwillingness to accept God’s sovereignty remind me so much of my sister. Her heart is hard towards Jesus and her will is unyielding to God’s sovereignty ... she and Pharaoh have too much invested in sovereignty over their own lives... Why doesn’t she see that lasting peace comes only from knowing Jesus?” (Cited in Phillip Ryken, Exodus, p 275) Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD’s message would be heard and received in faith by new generations. Pray that the LORD would give us greater joy in the news that lasting peace comes only from knowing Jesus. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 18 – God commands the dust and the flies to afflict Egypt

The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. – Exodus 8:18-19 Scripture reading: Exodus 8:16-32; Psalm 66 In the third and fourth plagues, the LORD chose small and seemingly trivial bugs to make a serious point: the Egyptians were being confronted by the LORD of heaven and earth. The gnats (or lice) were taken from the dust of the earth to afflict the Egyptians. The flies were taken from the skies to drive the Egyptians mad. These plagues testified that the LORD’s power was incredible. It’s almost amusing that the magicians – who had created snakes, blood, and frogs through their dark secret arts – are now stumped by the most insignificant of critters – the gnat! These demonically empowered men now confront the truth: “This is God’s doing!” But Pharaoh refuses to heed the Word of the LORD. He tries to trap the Hebrews by offering them a chance to make sacrifices in Egypt. He tries to twist God’s commands and keep the Hebrews in a place of compromised loyalty to God. Yet what do we see? Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh’s lies and attempts to cheat them. God was bringing the powers of Egypt to its knees and humbling every refuge, every so-called god that they turned to, by displaying His absolute power over them. Charles Spurgeon explains, “God’s demand is not that his people should have some little liberty, some little rest in their sin, no, but that they should go right out of Egypt... Christ did not come into the world merely to make our sin more tolerable, but to deliver us right away from it.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that our Father, as He instructs us as His children, gives us discernment to see the temptations which are placed in our path to turn aside from Him or to offer compromised sacrifices to Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 17 – God commands the frogs of the Nile to invade Egypt

Moses said to Pharaoh, "Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile." And he said, "Tomorrow." Moses said, "Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.” – Exodus 8:9-10 Scripture reading: Exodus 8:1-15 Surely a frog was nothing, right? Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Egyptians reverenced the goddess Heqet as the Egyptian goddess of childbirth. She was depicted with the head of a frog as a symbol of fertility. This is the false god that God attacked in this second plague. Heqet is undone through a sanity-stretching invasion. The frog goddess is toppled from a place of reverence and respect as the Egyptians begin to mutter every time they find another frog in their beds, their pots, their ovens and their kneading bowls. So Pharaoh cries out – he wanted relief, as one writer put it, from the punishment for sins, but not relief from sin itself. Pharaoh was coming to know about God through Moses but he was not prepared to come to God for deliverance from sin – Pharaoh wanted no part in salvation, just a respite from the plagues and these curious people. We look upon Pharaoh crying out for relief from one plague and we realize the powerful difference between a true cry of a repentant heart to the Servant of the Lord and the false cry of those who remain hardened in sin and unrighteousness. Only those who repent and believe in Jesus can find true relief and lasting peace with God! Let us cry out for deliverance to the One Who hears our cry and answers our request as we humble ourselves before Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the salvation of many in this world who are following false gods. Pray that your faith in Jesus would be strengthened as you cry out to Him in all of life’s troubles and hardships. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 16 – God commands the water to become blood

Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood.” – Exodus 7:17 Scripture reading: Exodus 7:14-25; Revelation 16:1-16 From the perspective of the pagan Egyptians, it made good sense to worship such a mighty natural force as the river Nile. The name given to the Nile River god was 'Hapi' and she was depicted as a mother who had given birth to Egypt. The fertility of Egypt depended on this great river which allowed life in the middle of the sands. After Moses and Aaron present the serpent-sign in Pharaoh’s presence they are told by God to meet Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. It is likely that Pharaoh was there for a religious ritual. What were they to do? “Go out to the place where Pharaoh interacts with one of his gods,” the Lord is saying, “and put that god to death by striking it with your staff.” It's a powerful one-two punch combo! Your royal serpent figure? Swallowed. Your powerful and life-sustaining river god? Defiled and dead. Say what you will, but God has an amazing way of getting his point across, doesn't He? No other god can save a people from the hand of the LORD. Judgment awaits every foe of God. What a precious gift it is to believe in the Son whose shed blood now cleanses and renews us.  And never forget Jesus’ testimony, “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.” Suggestion for prayer Pray for the blessing of the LORD for the ministry of His Gospel in all places around the world. Pray that many more would believe in Jesus and pass from death to life in Him! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 15 – The Lord warns and Satan still tries to deceive Pharaoh

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. – Exodus 7:10-11 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-17; Exodus 7:8-13 Pharaoh and the Egyptians are about to be swallowed up by the might of the LORD God! The proof is directly in front of them. Pharaoh, represented by the vivid imagery of a cobra head poised and ready to strike, was confronted by a live snake on the ground before him which was poised and ready to strike. The serpent's appearance was a warning and a declaration of intent on God's part. And then the most deflating thing happened, didn't it? Through dark demonic powers, Pharaoh’s magicians did the same by their secret arts. The magicians and sorcerers bring into Pharaoh's presence another threatening force – poised to strike. TheSerpentmakes an appearance. In Revelation 12, the Prince of Darkness who rebelliously confronts the LORD is named as the ancient serpent. Satan, the deceiver, presents through these sorcerers an imitation of God's threat. Which threat would Pharaoh respond to? God threatens, “I will destroy you and swallow you up.” And in response, the prince of darkness responds with his own threat through these other sorcerers and magicians: “for each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents.” And Pharaoh thinks, “If you have one snake and my magicians have many snakes, I think I'll stick with them!” And then? “Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.” Don't you love that? God is superior to any challenger – and God's servants cannot be thwarted by the Serpent or by the powers that he gives to his followers. Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the saving power of the LORD God! Pray for greater faith to be confident in the face of discouragement and doubts. Ask the LORD to give us joy because Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death and the evil one. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 14 – They shall all know that I am the Lord

Though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them. – Exodus 7:3-5 Scripture reading: Exodus 6:10-7:7 Up until now, the action in the book of Exodus has been more small-scale. Yes, the burning bush scene was quite something – but even that was a fiery scene witnessed by one man in the wilderness. Now we're at the doorstep and ready to dive into the ten plagues. Why did the LORD bring the plagues? He had previously explained this to Moses: “You shall know I am your God. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  In this chapter, we read that the signs and plagues will also be a testimony to the Egyptians who will come to acknowledge God’s supreme power over them. The mighty deeds of the LORD will be legendary! It’s disturbing, but unsurprising that we live in a time where many people ignore the truth that the LORD is sovereign over all. His might was displayed in Egypt and His saving purpose was foreshadowed in the events of the Exodus. The amazing impact of the good news of our salvation in Christ emerges when we remember that the LORD’s judgment of Egypt pales in comparison with the coming judgment for sin that shall take place on the last day. Yet, in Christ, every believer is assured that we have already undergone the judgment for sin because Jesus Christ has borne our judgment in His body on the cross! Suggestions for prayer Praise our Holy Father for graciously providing us with a Mediator Who was judged in our place. Ask Him to graciously open the hearts of our loved ones so that they may know that He is LORD and that He will save all who call out to Him in faith. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 13 – Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night (Jesus I come to Thee)

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. – Exodus 6:9 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:19-6:9 In John 12:46, Jesus declared, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” What wondrous news this is for sinners who need to be redeemed from the darkness! He came to bring the blessing of a new life to every believer. He came to bring us into a world of light in Him! The exodus from Egypt serves as a vivid preview of Jesus’ greater ministry to bring us out of a state of darkness and into the light of His presence. We do well to remember the dramatic change which the LORD brought to His people. As God said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do”. The LORD’s people were broken in spirit and burdened by harsh slavery. Their hope was fading. Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s command was emphatic. Their slavery was worse than before. What good could come out of this? Moses speaks in despair: “Since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." Our experience of hardship leaves such a mark on our faith. We begin to question God’s ability to actually help us. The LORD calls on us to look and see that His hand of deliverance has gone out to bring us from darkness into light! In the words of a familiar hymn: Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come! Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light, Jesus, I come to Thee! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for rescuing you from the darkness of sin and bringing you into the light and joy of His presence. Ask Him for strength to overcome fear and despair as you remember that Christ has overcome all our enemies and shall soon return to bless us with everlasting life! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 12 – I am and I will

The LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land." – Exodus 6:1 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:22-6:12; Acts 4:1-31 God takes us places in our lives that we think are entirely backwards – entirely opposite of what we want or expect or think can in any way be a good thing. “Why have you done evil to this people?” Moses asks, “Why did you ever send me?” The despair of Moses resonates for so many who've known struggles and pain. Yet God will display that “everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” This truth emerges in this scene which previewed the coming deliverance of God’s people. For “this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Remember this as you gather to worship the Great I AM today! After all, Pharaoh thought he was in control. Pharaoh boasted, “I will not let you go, I will not help you, and I will not let you rest.” God's response is even clearer: “I AM and I will deliver My people and give them rest.” As our passage unfolds, God again promises deliverance and declares that He will be vindicated. His character will be proven through the events that follow. God's name is now to be fully known and He is to become famous for what He does to Egypt. We can trust the LORD to do what is right even in the harshest of circumstances and when we face the most strident opposition. Suggestions for prayer Praise our God Almighty and marvel at His splendor, power, and righteousness! Thank Him for saving us from our distress! Ask Him to strengthen our hearts to serve Him with greater confidence. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC...

Daily devotional

May 11 – I’m Pharaoh and I will not

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'" But Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go." – Exodus 5:11-12 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:1-21; Isaiah 51 After narrowly escaping death through the emergency circumcision of Moses' son, Moses met Aaron in the wilderness and they traveled to Egypt. Incredibly, the people believed the message they heard and then bowed their heads and worshipped the one true God. You could say Moses is on a roll! Moses must be expecting even greater things to happen when he brings God’s Word to Pharaoh. Surely, all that had been promised is about to come about! But things don't go according to plan, do they? At least, as we see so often in our lives, according to our plans. In Exodus 5, we see two sides to one great showdown. Here we are ring-side and we hear the boast: “I'm Pharaoh, and I WILL NOT. I will not listen to your God and I will not let you go. Whoever you think you and your people are, I will not take orders from you.” Moses is shaken by Pharaoh’s refusal. Yet, in the picture here of everything going awry – of the oppression becoming greater and not less – we see a distant preview of another Servant of God Who came to His own and His own disciples struggled to understand how good could come from His rejection. The children of Abraham did not receive Him. Jesus came with a message and mission of freedom and faced the great powers of the evil one head on. When it seemed like the powers of darkness triumphed at Golgotha, Christ Jesus demonstrated His power by rising again on the third day and silencing the boastful mouth of Satan! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you how to ‘count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds’. Pray for a renewed heart that trusts that the LORD shall bring us good even when others refuse Him. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 10 – Let me go

Moses took the staff of God in his hand. And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” – Exodus 4:20-21 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:18-31; Romans 8:18-39 In Romans 8, we read, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God is for us – what a precious truth this is! Do we consider this as we struggle to be freed from the things which keep us from serving God as we should? Do you let the knowledge of what God has done, and is still doing, power your life? The good word of the gospel provides you with every reason and encouragement to strive against sin! For when our cry for help comes to the LORD, He declares, “I have freed you!” This is such a key part of the Christian life. All who believe in Christ live in a newfound freedom! We no longer live as those who remain in rebellion against God and captivity to sin. Here in Exodus 4, Moses’ hesitation has been overcome and he tells Jethro, his father-in-law, that he must go and do what God has called him to do. God has reassured His struggling servant repeatedly. Why? He is a God who saves His people! In a harsh world filled with many trials and hardships, the Lord comforts His people every day. In this age with its many troubles, the Lord provides a vivid display of His will in action in the story of the Exodus – hardening and softening hearts, addressing doubts and fears and calling all to service. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a deepening awareness of God’s gracious care for you. Pray that He would help you to be more and more willing to live as He calls you to live. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 9 – Are we sufficiently equipped for what lies ahead?

Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak." – Exodus 4:11-12 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-17; Hebrews 13:8-21 “Who am I that I should go?” Moses asks the Angel of the LORD. And God responds with 27 more verses of exhortation and encouragement for His servant Moses! Remember, God is not so distant from His people that He doesn't understand our weaknesses and our fears. He even holds back His anger over Moses' continued objections. But Moses’ fears are real and he’s not wrong – he gets a lot of the predictions he makes right! He's doubtful of Israel's reaction to him – and for good reason! He's fearful of Pharaoh's reaction to him – and for good reason! He's even correct that the signs which God has set before him are still going to be questioned and even rejected by the people! The LORD's plan of deliverance ultimately required someone with more to offer than a trembling heart and the signs which God gave him. Jesus has come with His unblemished obedience and divine power to remove our guilt and rescue us. Yet, as believers awaiting Jesus’ return, we can likewise see real threats and wonder if we are sufficiently equipped for the struggles we face. We face temptation, growing hostility, and personal hardship. And as He reassured Moses, He assures us that He is with us. He gives us His Word to shape our lives. He provides us with the signs of baptism and the Lord’s Supper to deepen our faith. And He assures us by His Spirit that He will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will.” (Hebrews 12:21). Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the LORD’s continued mercies. Thank Him for being patient with you in your weakness. Ask Him to give you a renewed resolve to serve Him without compromise. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC. ...

Daily devotional

May 8 – It shall not harm you

The LORD said to Moses, "Put out your hand and catch it by the tail"--so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- "that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." – Exodus 4:4-5 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-5; Psalm 121 "Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.” Now, don't try this at home. You can throw sticks on the ground as much as you like – that part is just fine. But grabbing a snake by its tail is a very risky business. A venomous snake moves most swiftly to strike anything which touches its body. That's why when you're snake catching, you try to nab it right behind its head and grasp it there. The tail flails around, but the head can't move if you have it securely grasped. God gave Moses a remarkable sign. He was to confront Pharaoh, whose emblem was a coiled serpent, and demonstrate that the serpent would not strike them. No harm would come to them from actual serpents, from Pharaoh as the Serpent Ruler of Egypt, or even the ancient Serpent who was anxious to harm God’s people. Moses will seize the serpent by the tail – and its mouth will be shut – its power will be stripped – and it will yield to the rod of the shepherd and literally become a rod again. The sign given by God to Moses makes plain that the serpent shall not harm his people. We know this with even greater clarity because Christ Jesus has bound our great adversary and tempter, Satan. By rising from the grave, Jesus has conquered every foe. By His action, He has gained us the victory over the powers of sin, death, and the darkness of the evil one! Suggestion for prayer Praise our Heavenly Lord for His victory which has gained us an everlasting peace with Him and an everlasting security from our foes through Jesus Christ! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 7 – Who shall I say you are?

Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:13-14 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:13-22 Jesus shocked the crowds in the temple when He declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” In a misguided attempt to protect the name of the LORD, they picked up stones to throw at Him. What was His offense, in their eyes? Jesus was declaring that He was God. Yet, Jesus was rightly revealing His Name to the crowds just as He had previously revealed Himself to Moses. For it was the Word of God Who spoke from the burning bush and provided assurance to Moses that it was by divine authority that Moses was to carry out his calling. In a way, we can identify with Moses’ hesitation, can’t we? Moses doubted himself, he feared the people and Moses was worried about Pharaoh. And amazingly, the LORD provides a powerful reassurance to His wavering servant: “Say this… I AM has sent me to you.” I can't do this. Lord, you call me to an impossible task. What is that for you? What part of your life feels impossible right now? Particularly, what area in your heart feels like a no-go zone in your fight to root out sin? What struggle do you face with others that feels like it is an insurmountable challenge? If we focus on Moses, we miss the much greater revelation happening: The LORD God, the maker of the heavens and the earth, made plain this everlasting truth for all who trust in Him: I AM with you to deliver you! Suggestion for Prayer Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 6 – How can we come near?

God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. – Exodus 3:4-6 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-12; Hebrews 12:18-29 To come into God’s presence, we must be pure of any sin and holy in heart and conduct. Like Moses, we are defiled by sin and need a priest who can cleanse us. This was why Moses was told not to come near to the burning bush and the Angel of the LORD who spoke to Him. Yet the great news in Hebrews chapter 10 is this: “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." We are invited to draw near through Christ our High Priest Who has washed our hearts and bodies clean of sin and corruption. Particularly in the aftermath of Jesus’ wondrous work of redemption and the offering of His shed blood and body for our sins, we are granted a new confidence and assurance to draw near to the majesty, splendor, and glory of our God! Jesus Christ has opened up a new and living way for us to come into the presence of our Holy God and live with joy in His presence! God comes near to Moses in the wilderness and gives Moses His Name to proclaim, His plan to carry out and His power to display signs of God’s intent to set His people free. He wants Moses to be His ambassador in Egypt. All that Moses will do serves as a preview of when Jesus would come to rescue His people from a greater foe and secure us forever. In Him, dear Christian, we draw near with newfound boldness and holiness! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord that He has completely provided what you need to draw near to Him without terror or dread! Pray that Jesus would be exalted in your conduct as you live in renewed holiness because of His perfecting work in you. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 5 – God’s ways are not our ways

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:15-25; Isaiah 55 How was anything good to come from Moses’s sudden exodus from the land? Wasn’t he saved from the Nile River for a special mission? He’s 40 years old and well trained. He’s strong enough to be a powerful foe to the Egyptians, single-handedly taking the large lid off the well and imposing enough to drive away the aggressive shepherds. If you were a casting agent for social revolution, you would say Moses was your guy. But God’s ways are not our ways. The might of Moses will be diminished during his 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness away from the Hebrews of Egypt. It will not be mighty, well-connected Moses who leads the charge into the battle for Hebrew independence. No, God’s plan is to send an 80-year-old Moses to be His voice and a messenger with signs of power. Is this surprising? Yes! Just as a child born in a stable was a surprising turn of events for those who expected a king. Yet Jesus Christ was the Word of God Incarnate and the only One who could bring life to us through His death and resurrection. There is a lesson in the life of Moses that we need to learn too: that God’s perfect plan of deliverance involves times of suffering, hardship and pain for us to endure. But through it all, God is in control! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you peace in your circumstances as you await the day when you will enter the Promised Land of rest for all of God’s people. Pray for contentment when God’s plans for you seem hard to understand or experience. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 4 – The defender of the oppressed

When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. – Acts 7:23-25 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-15; Acts 7:17-29 What was Pharaoh’s fear? In chapter 1 vs 10, he fears that the Hebrews would join the enemies of Egypt and fight against them and escape from the land. Amazingly, that’s exactly what Moses does here. Here’s a son of esteem and privilege in Pharaoh’s court, next in line to the throne according to the ancient historian Josephus. What does he do? He joins the enemy. What’s more, he fights for them and escapes from the land. In this remarkable scene, Moses served as a defender and avenger of the oppressed. This is the inspired interpretation which the martyr, Stephen, sets before us in Acts 7:24-25. Moses strikes the first blow against Pharaoh’s forces. Yet the weary hearts of the Hebrews were not prepared to see that God was giving them salvation by Moses’ hands. They looked at the prospect of deliverance and thought it was too far-fetched and they rejected Moses. When Stephen preached on this text before the Council, he made the point all too clear for them: you are acting with greater disdain and danger to your soul if you reject Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, Who has come to defend the oppressed and avenge all wrongdoing. For unlike Moses, who shrank in fear once he realized what he had done, Jesus unfailingly overcame our great enemy and now He opens the gates of Heaven to all who believe in Him. Moses’ actions were only a preview of the glorious way in which God has now given us salvation through the pierced hands of His Son! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God to remove every obstacle in the hearts of those who think salvation from sin is either unnecessary or simply impossible. Pray for courage to be a witness of Christ our Defender and Redeemer! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 3 – Delivered

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. – Isaiah 53:8-9 Scripture reading: Exodus 1:15-2:10; Isaiah 53 We can read many stories in the Bible of times when the LORD miraculously and powerfully delivered His people from the spear and sword of their enemies. He spared the Hebrew children through the faith-filled actions of Shiprah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives. He delivered baby Moses from the very river in which he was supposed to be killed. Moses was brought to the site of death. He was spared. He was rescued from certain death by means of an ‘ark’ – a vessel of deliverance which was safeguarded by the LORD so that Moses might be rescued by a most unlikely rescuer – Pharaoh’s daughter! These are important testimonies to the love God has for you. He hears your cries and answers your pleas. He promises you deliverance from the judgment to come and He sets before you everlasting life. Amazingly, then, the greatest testimony of our deliverance is found in the scene of a man brought to the place of death who was not delivered. Our Saviour was not spared at the site of His judgment. Even though He was entirely pure and innocent, He laid down His life so that we might be saved in Him. This salvation through the payment of our sins and the bearing of our judgment is now finished! You are delivered because Christ was not spared. He was stricken for our transgressions. Through His death and resurrection, we now confidently tell Satan and his whole dominion that we do not fear their power for we have been delivered and we shall be raised again with Christ! Suggestions for prayer Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Praise the name of the LORD for His unfailing mercies and wondrous deliverance of sinners who call upon His name to receive life through His death! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 2 – The collision of two great powers

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. – Exodus 1:12  Scripture reading: Exodus 1:1-14; Revelation 12 The Pharaoh of Egypt was shrewd and cunning. He did not know or care about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was most willing to become an enemy of God's people. In this, Pharaoh was taking up the vain battle cry of Satan and all who follow him in rebellion against the LORD God. He thought his human powers could overcome the problem posed by the rapidly multiplying people of God. In these events in Exodus, Satan saw that his attempts to wipe out the people whom God loved were futile. With Satan behind him spurring him on, Pharaoh would see first hand that no ruler or power can stop the LORD God! No chains can deter the LORD’s purposes for his people. No army can ever stand in His way. No waters can hem in His people and not even a wilderness without food and water can actually disrupt God's purpose to save His people! Jesus, our great Saviour from the powers of sin, death and the devil, says to His followers, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Those words are true for all who suffer for His name’s sake as a part of the people of God. When it seems like we're caught in the collision of great powers – when we face grave threats or increasing pressures, we must be and are reminded of this glorious testimony of Christ our Lord: “I have overcome the world." Suggestion for prayer Thank the LORD for delivering us from our bondage to sin and the powers of the evil one. Pray for strength to withstand temptation. Ask the LORD to increase your trust in Jesus Christ alone for deliverance from the powers of evil in this world. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC....

Daily devotional

May 1 – The central Character in the story of all our lives

Introduction to the month of May This month we will be looking at Exodus 1-13 in order to see the tremendous way that the historical exodus of God’s people from Egypt foreshadows the wondrous exodus of all who are redeemed from sin, suffering and the tyranny of the devil. Our prayer is that we will see more fully the way that God’s people can have hope and confidence in the work of Jesus for us as sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. There are a remarkable array of characters in these pages of Scripture and every one of them has a message to tell us in our time of awaiting our entry into the Promised Land (Hebrews 12:22-24)! You will meet villains who oppose the LORD and His anointed (Psalm 2:2). You will meet a people who are reluctant to listen to a man whose presence has seemingly made things worse for them (John 6:66-69). You will meet a redeemer and judge who is reluctant to take up his calling until the LORD gives him a name to proclaim, a series of signs to perform and a stirring message: My people shall be set free to worship Me (Hebrews 10:5-7). In this series of devotions for the month ahead, we’ll look at the story that the martyr, Stephen, appealed to in Acts 7:17-36 to explain that the coming of Jesus Christ was always anticipated in scripture and that He is truly our Saviour and King! **** Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Scripture reading: Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 1:1-4 God is the central character in the story of all our lives. As Scripture says, “In Him we live and move and have our being” and “we are His offspring.” So when the story of your life is written, it is always the case that God is the central character – whether He is recognized in this role or not. We might think we’re the central character in the story of our lives. It feels like we are! Yet, one part of our faith-filled response to God is that we learn to humble ourselves before Him and see that He is the most important figure in our story. Yet, if a story-teller dropped by your house and wanted to capture your story, I wonder if he might be caught off guard if you said, “First, I need to tell you about God because He is more important and central a character in this story than I am!” The story of the Exodus is first and foremost a story which highlights the greatness of the LORD God. His plan brings comfort to His people. His actions reveal His glory. His mercies reveal His steadfast covenant faithfulness. His powerful triumph over the armies of Pharaoh reveals the splendor of His holy Name to all! As we proceed through this account of trouble and triumph, we will do well to keep reminding ourselves that God is truly the central character in the story! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for being the One who comforts us in all our affliction. Pray for humility to submit to God’s will for our lives and to rejoice that He is the most important character in our life story. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC. ...