Daily Devotions

by Pastor Jacob Boer

Check out my blog: Jacob's Musings

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posted by Jacob Boer

Q. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

A. That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.

This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice, he might deliver us, body and soul, from eternal condemnation, and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.

 

My grandfather moved his family from The Netherlands after the Second World War because he wanted a better life for his family. It wasn’t easy, ask any immigrant family how difficult it can be to start all over in a new land, a new culture and a new language. My mother told stories of going to school those first months and trying to learn lessons in a language she couldn’t understand and then being teased by the other kids because of she was an immigrant. But my mother knew that her dad had done this so she and her brothers and sisters could have a better life and over time, appreciated his sacrifice for them.

Jesus wants a better life for us, this is why he came to earth as one of us, this is why he suffered in order to be an atoning sacrifice so that we can experience God’s grace, righteousness and eternal life. As we enter this Holy Week, take time to give thanks to Jesus for suffering so we can have better lives with God.

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posted Apr 3, 2020, 9:35 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?

A. That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that he might also become David’s true descendant, like his brothers and sisters in every way.

Jesus is human, just like you and me, that’s what makes our faith so great, because we follow a God who gets us, who understands what we go through as we journey through life. I wonder at times like this is Jesus ever got the flu, or if he would have done physical distancing if he was living here now. There may not have been a pandemic during Jesus’ time, but there were other life pressures that he lived through: a king tried to kill while he was a child, he was a refugee with his parents, he walked among and touched lepers, he was beaten, tortured and in the end crucified. He was thought to be crazy by his family, called a heretic by the Jewish leaders, abandoned by his followers, and had no place to call home. I find hope in knowing that I can come to Jesus, no matter what’s going on and he’s able to understand.

So whatever you’re going through today, feel free to turn to the one person who will understand and know that he will carry you through it.

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posted Apr 2, 2020, 10:17 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. Why do you call Jesus “our Lord”?

A. Because—not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood—he has set us free from sin and from the tyranny of the devil, and has bought us, body and soul, to be his very own.

To call someone Lord, is to say that this person is more important than you are and that his wishes are more important than yours and become yours. You don’t call just anyone Lord, there needs to be a level of trust based on who the other person is and their character. As followers of Jesus, we place our trust and our lives into Jesus’ hands because of what he has done for us: Jesus has freed us from the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. 

Without even knowing it, we sell ourselves into slavery to the devil by listening to his quiet lies that we can be in control of our own lives, that we are the most important person in the world. The problem is that we are way too good at messing up our lives and the lives of people around us when we listen to the devil’s lies and we find ourselves living in broken relationships and with little hope. 

Jesus went to the cross to save us from our sin, from ourselves and our self-centered approach to life. Jesus counters the devil’s lies with his promise of freedom: freedom to become who God has created us to be, free from fear, from anxiety, from selfishness and free to love and be loved. We find freedom by giving ourselves over to Jesus. Are you free today? 

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posted Apr 1, 2020, 9:47 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. But why are you called a Christian?

A. Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing. I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

Have you ever thought that as a follower of Jesus that you are anointed, meaning that you have been chosen by Jesus to join in the things he’s doing and that he’s using each of us to grow his kingdom and presence here in our community? For a long time, I thought that Jesus could never use me; I was rough around the edges, a high school drop-out, and had a sarcastic way of approaching the world. It took a patient pastor who showed me that Jesus is able to use me as I am to connect with people in our community that most of the members in our church found it hard to: kids from rough backgrounds, parents who were down on their luck, homeless and men wrestling with addictions and loss of self-worth, and they felt comfortable with me.

I’ve learned that we are each equipped to walk alongside different folk, that the very personality quirks we each have are actually quirks that help us connect with others. There is no one that Jesus isn’t able to use to bring shalom, peace, hope and grace to others. So who have you been anointed to reach, how have you been shaped to connect?

Who is Jesus to you

posted Mar 31, 2020, 10:00 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. Why is Jesus called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?

A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance; our only high priest who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.

When I think about Jesus being anointed, being chosen to tell us about our Father, who set us free from our sin, and who watches over me, I often think about an older elder who mentored me my first year as an elder and he told me that Jesus is much more than the roles he plays; he’s an actual person who loves us so much he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get us to know how much we mean to him and to God. He encouraged me to treat Jesus as someone who is real and wants to get to know us in a deep and special way. It was years later that it began to sink in: I was reading about Jesus and his disciples and Jesus tells them, I’m not calling you my servants, I call you my friends. Suddenly I began to get it, Jesus wants to get to know me in that way, not through the roles he has, but as a friend.

My prayer for you today is that you too will experience Jesus as a friend, a dear friend who is willing to go to extreme lengths for us so that we can know peace and hope, so that we can walk through life with strength and courage because our friend is with us always.

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posted Mar 30, 2020, 11:07 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. What do you understand by God’s providing for everyone?

A. The almighty and ever present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

I love the way that comfort flows through the questions and answers that the catechism asks. You can tell it was a theologian and pastor who wrote this together; we need to know God looks out for us in both our heads and hearts. At a time when stores are being closed for a while and people are being laid off from work and we worry about how we will meet our bills and obligations, the question comes about God providing for, not just his people, but for all creation. It calls us to think about a big God, not a small God.

We’re reminded that God does hold everything in his hand and he is in control. Even times like this are in his hands and come from him. I can’t tell you why he is allowing this all to happen, but I can tell you that you are in his hand, that he knows what you need. The question and answer after this one tells us that we can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love. For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved. God loves you, his precious daughters and sons, and you can trust that he will be with you and provide for you through this time. 

God Our Father

posted Mar 27, 2020, 9:00 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ the Son.

I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this sad world. God is able to do this because he is almighty God and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

 

I love my dad, but we haven’t always been close. Life wasn’t always easy and he worked hard, really hard, to make sure that we had everything we needed. There were lots of nights that he was busy in his workshop building furniture to sell so we could have a few extras once in a while. His hard work, I saw later on, was an expression of his love for us.

When I think of God as my father, the Father Almighty, as the Apostle’s Creed puts it, I used to often experience God as a not-so-close Father. I knew he loved me, and us, but it didn’t feel especially meaningful. That changed when I became a father myself and I experienced what a self-sacrificing love felt like. I was, and still am, willing to do almost anything to make sure my kids are safe and provided for. The problem is, that as they got older, they needed my protection less as they began to provide for themselves and I realized that they grew more mature when I let them learn through difficult times, more than when I tried to always protect them. It was hard to let them make bad choices and only be there to help pick them up and reassure them that it was going to be ok, that they always have a place to come to, a place where they will always be loved and accepted. Now I get better who God is as my father, and I also understand my own father better, and this has brought us closer over the years.

Thank you God for being our Father and for the fathers you place in our lives. For those whose relationships are strained with their earthly fathers, please bring restoration and peace.

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posted Mar 26, 2020, 9:24 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. What is true faith?

A. True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation.

These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.

 

I love how this question and answer talks about faith as being, not just knowledge with the head, but also a heart knowledge that you feel deep in your bones. Knowing with our heads that we’re forgiven and saved is good, but experiencing it deep in our heart and soul makes it real. It’s like loving someone. I know that my wife Joyce loves me with my head, but experiencing her love in my heart is more powerful and knowing that I am loved gives me confidence to head out in the morning, knowing that no matter how hard the day is, I’m coming home to someone who loves me. This love isn’t something I’ve earned; it’s just given to me.

That’s what faith is like, it’s not just a head thing, it’s a heart and head thing that gives us the strength to go out every day, asking God, “Who do you want me to be this day,” and then being open to whatever happens, knowing that no matter how hard the day may be, no matter that whatever comes your way that might take all your wisdom, compassion, and strength to get through, you know that because Jesus loves you with everything he is, that he will get you through it.

At a time like this, I think of people like nurses, emergency personnel, cashiers in grocery stores, and others on the front lines of this virus, and I pray that they know that God is using them to be a huge blessing and that he will give them what they need to get through this time. May your faith strengthen you today.

Lord thank you for the gift of faith that gives us the strength for today. Amen

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posted Mar 25, 2020, 10:00 AM by Jacob Boer

A mediator is a person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement. We need a mediator between God and us because of sin, so the Catechism asks:

 

Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

A. One who is a true and righteous human, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.

 

Q. Then who is this mediator—true God and at the same time a true and righteous human?

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given to us to completely deliver us and make us right with God.

 

God loves us deeply, but sometimes, even between people who really love each other, things happen where they find that they can’t stay together and need someone to help them find a way to get back together again. That’s what Jesus does in our relationship with God that got broken because of sin; he finds a way to bring us back together again. Jesus does this by taking the punishment for sin, which God had said was death, on himself to make restore our relationship with God again.

But to do this, Jesus has to be completely human, because it was us humans that messed up the relationship in the first place, and Jesus has to be fully God so that he can take all the sin of the world to the cross so that all creation can be restored. That takes a huge amount of love and commitment! During times like this, knowing that Jesus is fully human means that he understands our worries, our fears, and our concern for our loved ones when we can’t be close to them; and knowing that Jesus is fully God means that he is powerful enough to carry us through these times, powerful enough to protect us, and compassionate enough to be with us through this all, but especially when we feel alone and helpless.

Thank you Jesus for being you and loving us so much, please protect all our loved ones and allow them to feel your presence during this time, amen  

 

 

 

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posted Mar 24, 2020, 8:26 AM by Jacob Boer

Q. But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?

A. No, God created human beings with the ability to keep the law. They, however, provoked by the devil, in willful disobedience, robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.

 

Yesterday we looked at what our only comfort in life is, it’s Jesus. The catechism then moves straight into telling us that we are sinners. Sometimes it’s easy to try and blame God, saying things like, “Well God made me this way, so it must be good.” We normally say things like that only after someone confronts us about our attitudes or behaviour. I’ve got a really bad temper, one that I’ve worked hard to control, but it’s still always there. I used to think that that’s just who I am and people needed to accept me for who I am if they really cared about me.

One day my grandfather took me aside and told me something that has stuck with me since, he said, “You can be angry and bitter, or you can approach life with gratitude and joy, your choice. You can change, find someone you admire and who lives well with others and imitate him or her. Over time you will begin to look more like that person.” I decided that day to imitate my grandfather, a kind gentle man who loved others and showed it in all kinds of ways.

God loves us, even though we sin. He sent Jesus, not just to die on the cross for us, but to also show us how to live well with each other and God. God also sends people in our lives that show us how to live well, people like my grandfather, who imitated Jesus as best he could.

Who are you imitating, who has touched your life and changed it and helped you learn how to live well? Please share, it will be a tribute to them and an encouragement to each other. May the Lord bless you all today.

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