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Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

Thursday July 26 - The graves were opened

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

Monday July 23 – They divided my garments among them

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

Daily devotional

Sunday July 22 – The last Passover celebration

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

Thursday July 19 – You give them something to eat!

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 17 – Fasting while the Bridegroom is away

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

Daily devotional

Monday July 16 – "I came not to call the righteous but sinners"

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he rose and followed Him… – Matthew 9:9-13 Scripture reading: Luke 15:1-10 By the preaching of the Lord Jesus, God’s kingdom is opened or closed. It was opened, for instance, to the tax collector, Matthew. As tax collector, he was known for his crooked business, defrauding his fellow Jews. This man was far from the kingdom of God, far from a place among Jesus’ followers. Now to this man, Jesus gives a place among His disciples. How could that be? What would people say of such a gospel? Still, as the Lord Jesus shows in this passage, that’s exactly why He had come: He came to those who were lost; He came for the sick; He came to call sinners! Imagine that Jesus would have come to call the righteous, people who were worthy of being God’s child and office bearer in God’s church and kingdom. There would be no one who qualified! That’s what should make this event so amazing; yes, that’s what should amaze us about the fact that we may belong to Jesus! Just like Matthew, who followed the Lord Jesus all his life and served Him, so we should wish to respond in thanksgiving and service! Yes, just like Matthew, who brought many more sinners to the Saviour, so we should share this gospel with whomever we can! The Pharisees and scribes did not like this approach to the gospel. They wanted a church for the elite, of people righteous in themselves, righteous like them. The Lord Jesus, however, sends them away with the message that God desires mercy and not sacrifice, not self-righteousness and an unforgiving attitude! Suggestions for prayer Pray for humbleness and for a clear knowledge of our sins and misery. Thank God for His mercy to you and for the gospel. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Sunday July 15 – "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"

And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea… – Matthew 8:23-27 Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-30 During Christ’s life on earth, Satan used every way to obstruct the work of Jesus. He possessed people by his demons, brought terrible diseases, bound people for a long time, used his powers over nature, sweeping up the waters and winds where Jesus went, seeking to kill Him and His disciples. The disciples feared these powers of the sea while Jesus was sleeping in the boat. They woke Him up, and cried, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” It’s no wonder these disciples were afraid, fearing death at such a time. As believers, we too have times of fear for the powers of Satan, and understandably so. In this event, however, the disciples have Christ on board. They could have known that His work wasn’t finished, that Satan’s death and demise would come, though not at this time. They had God’s promises and had seen Jesus’ works, and yet… They did not think in faith, live by faith all the time; they had an interrupted faith. At moments like these, they had to learn again Who they had on board. Jesus manifested His power over wind and water; He silenced the storm and settled their fears. This is Jesus Who would conquer all powers of sin and Satan, all powers of destruction in nature as well. He would come again to establish a new heaven and a new earth in which there would be no satanic powers in nature that could affect the creation of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for peace and tranquillity; ask the Lord for His protection, guidance; and for Christ’s return to make all things new! This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Saturday July 14 – Jesus delivers from sickness and death

And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” – Matthew 8:4  Scripture reading: Isaiah 53:1-12 The Lord Jesus conquers death; He restores life, in communion with God. That’s what He showed in the healing of the leper, who was dead (figuratively speaking). This healed leper, however, could not return to God’s people just like that. He first had to go to the temple, make the required sacrifices and show himself to the priests. By his sacrifice, he would testify that he actually did deserve death, but now an animal may die in his place. It pointed at the Messiah, Who would die in his place an eternal death; He would take upon Himself this man’s death and the death through sin of every believer! This man was healed, not because of his kind request or faith in Jesus; he was healed, thanks to the work Christ would perform at Golgotha. On the basis of that work, symbolized in the sacrifice of the animal, God (in His priest) would declare him clean and admit him to the communion of His people again. At the same time, as the priests would hear the man’s story and the manner of his healing, they would know that the Messiah had come. He would take over their task and fulfill the meaning of every sacrifice they make! That’s when these sacrifices will become redundant. Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, He will deliver those who are His from suffering and death and restore to them life, even eternally! That’s the light of the gospel that shines today over all manner of suffering and over death! Suggestions for prayer Pray for patience and endurance, for faith and hope in all the promises of the gospel. Pray for those who suffer among your loved ones or in the congregation. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Friday July 13 – Jesus cleanses a leper: "I will; be clean!"

And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean!” – Matthew 8:1-3 Scripture reading: Leviticus 13:1-8 Jesus came to deliver us from sin and death, to restore life to us, the new life that will end in eternal life. That’s what He proclaimed in His preaching and manifested in His healing. If there was one disease that projected the power of death and held the verdict of death, it was leprosy. This disease showed itself by turning the skin white, making the sufferer look like a corpse. God hated death and by this disease showed the reality of death. Hence, Jesus Who came to deliver from sin and death used this opportunity to show Himself the Redeemer and King over death! Lepers could no longer be among the community of people; outside the camp, they had to wander around finding a place to stay and food to eat. When people approached them, they had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” Healing a leper, therefore, was like calling someone back from death. The leper in this passage knew Jesus and believed that He could heal him; that He had power over life and death. He desired to live again among the people and in communion with God. Then Jesus defied the powers of sin and death and touched this leper. He wants to heal the man and deliver him from the powers of death. “I will; be clean!” He said. His Word is powerful and effective, conquering death in this man. His Word and Spirit are still powerful and effective, saving those who believe in Him from sin and death! His Word is life and gives life eternally! Suggestions for prayer Pray the Lord for His compassion and care in times of illness, dealing with a chronic disease (or for loved ones, a fellow-member). Ask God for comfort and hope with a view to eternal healing. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Thursday July 12 - "Be silent and come out of him!"

 And He went down to Capernaum… and in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, who cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?" – Luke 4:31-37 Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 4:1-10 From the unbelieving people in Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum. There, too, He taught on the Sabbath and they were astonished at His teaching, for His word possessed authority. One of the hearers was a man with an unclean spirit. This demon knows the heart of this man he possesses and he knows the authority of the Preacher. The Son of God has come to drive him out of this man, out of this town, out of this world, into eternal condemnation! Therefore he challenges Jesus, but Jesus rebukes him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” Jesus knows of the sins of this man and He knows the desire of these demons. They will get their day at Golgotha, where He will bear the sins of this man and of all those who seek their life in Him; there He will also be attacked by all the demons to give up on His work of salvation. Yet, Jesus knows His power and knows that He will overcome these demons, death and Satan, and showing His authority, He drives out this demon! Nothing can separate this man from His love! Jesus, therefore, is also the refuge for everyone who is beset with the power of the evil one. He will be there with His power to help us fight against the demons in our hearts, the evil spirits that beset us in our life of faith! He knows how hard the struggle is and how desperate the battle can be! His Word and faith in Him is the only way to overcome! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God may strengthen you in this spiritual battle. Ask Jesus Who can empathize with you, He Who was tempted like you are. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Wednesday July 11 - No prophet is acceptable in his hometown

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He stood up to read. And the scroll of Isaiah was given to Him… – Luke 4:16-17 Scripture reading: Luke 4:16-30 Jesus had been working, preaching and healing for some time already when He appears on the Sabbath in the synagogue of His native town of Nazareth. Luke places this event right after the account of the temptations of Jesus and following a few verses in which he sums up Jesus’ first work and glorious reception elsewhere. In this way, Luke, the storyteller, increases our suspense as we wonder about His reception in His hometown. So far He had manifested Himself in His victory over Satan, in His work of redemption from sin and sickness. These and other events signal the beginning of the Year of Jubilee! That's what He reads about now in the synagogue of Nazareth. Although the people of Nazareth appreciated His preaching, they were more eager to see His miracles. The Lord Jesus, however, knew their thoughts and negative sentiments, their reservations about this son of Joseph, the carpenter. His preaching was not received with faith in the hearers; rather, they were waiting for the miracles of their town’s magician. They were not interested in redemption from poverty, slavery, oppression by Satan, or any of the promises that would be fulfilled in the Year of Jubilee. They refused to see Him as the Messiah, the Saviour who would deliver them from sin and Satan, from sin and death! The Lord Jesus exposed them in their unbelief and foretold that this gospel of redemption would be believed in the world! Nazareth rejected it and so the light was extinguished there, but He will be the Light of the world! Suggestions for prayer  Ask God for a believing heart, for the enlightening of our mind, and for a response of faith to the hearing of His Word. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....

Daily devotional

Tuesday July 10 - The temptation of Jesus: “All these I will give you…”

Again, the devil took Him to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8-11 Scripture reading: Psalm 2 Satan’s offers are always attractive and presented in an inviting way. As the prince of this earth, he thinks he can use his power to tempt Jesus into a much easier way: just fall down and worship me. Jesus, thus, could get everything this world has to offer, all peoples and nations, all glories of culture and entertainment. Just worship me and it will all be yours. We recognize this temptation today too when we see the glories of this world and the attractions in the world of arts and entertainment. But, like Jesus, we should not even want it, knowing how sinful and godless these things are, and knowing how deceitful this worship and service of Satan will be if we submit to him. Satan doesn’t have a chance tempting Jesus. Jesus certainly will receive all the kingdoms of the earth, as we can read in Psalm 2, but only in the way of obedience to God! In fact, Satan has nothing to give, though he pretends he does, since all things are God’s in the first place! Jesus will receive it in God’s way and at God’s time. He knows that this will be in the way of suffering and death before He will receive all authority in heaven and on earth. We, too, in submission to Jesus, will need to wait for the day that we will inherit the earth and that all its glories will be entered in the kingdom of God! Let’s wait for it with patience, in faith and hope! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will strengthen you in your struggle with the temptations of the world. Ask God for a true faith and a firm hope as we await the return of Christ in glory with the gift of our inheritance. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. William den Hollander (Sr.) is minister-emeritus of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church of Toronto....