Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional - Thursday, September 30, 2021
"I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church." (Colossians 1:24)
[Today's devotional is found in "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald J. Chambers; only the title has been changed here. https://utmost.org/the-assigning-of-the-call/]
"We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.
I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children."
Song for Reflection
"The Purpose in the Pain" Matt Hybarger
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, September 29, 2021
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)
Many of us reject the idea of needing to submit to anyone. Often, our rejection has more to do with how ‘submission’ has been taught as a God-given expectation on some and has been used to suppress and/or literally been wielded as a stick to keep some in line, while excluding others from this same expectation. However, by rejecting our need to “submit to one another,” we leave ourselves forever in need of defending our every position, refusing to listen to another point of view, choosing to die on every hill of battle rather than focusing on the greater war at hand. Our lack of submission today, I believe, is a large reason for our heightened anxiety, religious dogmatism and the constant undercurrent of anger that is so prevalent in our society at large, ready to erupt at the least provocation.
The dictionary defines ‘submit’ two ways, both of which are applicable in understanding the above verse: “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person” and “subject to a particular process, treatment, or condition.” An inability to submit is a strong indicator of misplaced pride and of unchecked selfishness. Without submission, we become deaf to the needs of others in favour of our own. We demand to have our way, to have our say, yet without reciprocating the same. When the Apostle Paul told everyone to submit to one another, he knew how challenging this would prove for many. He encouraged wives to remember Jesus as they submitted to their husbands and he encouraged husbands to remember Christ’s incredible love, which was to result in submission to their wives. Submission, when practiced by both a husband and a wife, leads to a healthy marital relationship. Submission between members of Christ’s Church also encourages the growth of healthy and equal relationships—no one is more important than another, no one has greater power than another, everyone learns to work together as equal participants in growing God’s Kingdom.
When members of His Church remember to be submissive to one another, God can and will use us to do great things together. However, should we continue to refuse and end up fighting one another for preeminence of position, methodology, ideology—needing to be right and to prove our point of view at all costs—we should not expect God to choose to use us for any good thing. We must learn to truly reflect Jesus, the One we claim to serve, and adopt His same attitude as outlined by Paul in Philippians 2; though God, He chose not to cling to His rights, but submitted Himself to God’s plan and took the low position of a servant, even dying the death of a criminal. And in response, God rewarded Him and gave Him a name and position above all others, and someday we will all submit ourselves to Jesus, our King of kings and Lord of lords—whether we have done so on this side of the grave or not!
~ Pastor Jane
Song for Reflection - “Control” Tenth Avenue North - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFfztu8-bBQ
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, September 28, 2021
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:10, NLT)
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” (1 Peter 5:6, NLT)
The need for humility is an often-overlooked truth. We have come to associate the word ‘humility’ with ‘humiliation’…and none of us wants that. Though sharing a common root word, these two are actually quite different. Humiliation is often something that you suffer at the hands of another during which your pride takes a bruising; humility on the other hand is a posture you adopt, subjecting your pride of your own freewill. So, when God tells us to ‘humble ourselves’ He is not telling us to gird ourselves for a bout of embarrassment, but rather to allow our pride to be subjected to His will. By placing ourselves in His hands—our resources, our reputation, our future, our lives—we acknowledge His right over us. Our lives are not ours to direct and plan; they are to be God’s to use for His purposes. That requires humility.
Peter and James both understood the truth about humility. God is most pleased to work in and through those who are humble—those who will not claim credit for His work; those who will not look down their nose on others; those who will not allow their pride to get in the way. And in return He has promised to “lift you up in honour.” God is pleased to work through humble individuals and He will reward their faithful service. The Bible is full of examples…Joseph, slave turned ruler…Ruth, foreigner accepted into the family…Daniel, captive turned advisor…David, shepherd become king…Samuel, boy called to be a prophet…Esther, commoner chosen as queen…to name just a few.
When we come to God in prayer, it should be with a humble attitude—not demanding or petulant—but acknowledging that God knows what is best…always! We will often not know how He will work out a thing or the time that will be required; it is humility that will keep our sinful pride in check when God chooses to answer in a way we weren’t expecting. Being humble does not come naturally, but it is an incredibly important ingredient in our relationship with God if we want to experience ‘His power made perfect in weakness!’
~ Pastor Jane
Song for Reflection - “Humble King” Brenton Brown performed by Vineyard Worship - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7Rohc92j9M
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional – Monday, September 27, 2021
“God told me, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT)
It seems contradictory to our natural way of thinking, but according to Paul, our competencies can actually prevent us from experiencing the full power of God. How? The most effective disciples are those who have God’s power working in and through them. But the only way to experience God’s help is to first admit that you need it. How often do we forget our need of God’s help when things are going well? When all is good, we can quickly slide into the confident mode of, “I got this! Watch what I can do!” But, when we rely on our own strength, no matter how successful we appear to be, we will never know what God would be able to do through and in us without our egos getting in the way.
It’s when things aren’t going well, when we recognize our own inability to bring about a resolution to a problem, and we find ourselves losing control, that we cry out to God, “Help! I don’t have this. I need you, God!” That’s when God is free to allow His power to flow through us, because when He does act, there will be no question as to who should get the credit…it’s all God’s. We couldn’t move the mountain, but now the mountain is moved…that’s God’s power at work!
God knows that we can slide into independence unless we have regular reminders of our need to have an attitude of dependence on Him. God gave the Apostle Paul a mountain-sized task…to explain the New Covenant to the Jews and to bring the saving message of Jesus to the Gentiles. It was a mammoth job, and God had naturally gifted Paul. But there was still one thing he needed—something to keep him humble and reliant on God for His power to complete his God-given assignment. So God gave him a ‘thorn;’ some have suggested that Paul had failing eyesight and wished for God to heal him. It isn’t known for certain what his affliction was, only that he prayed three times for God to take it away and God refused, answering, “My grace is sufficient.” God knew that Paul would need to remain dependent on Him in order to complete the tasks He had created Him for…and He knew that a self-sufficient attitude would be a temptation for Paul, just as it is for many of us.
Contrary to popular opinion, our continued dependence on God is a good thing. As we continue to seek His help, He will continue to provide His power. When we give Him the credit for His achievements through us, His power can flow through us perfectly; but when we begin taking credit for the successes we experience through His help, His power will stop working in us because we no longer recognize God as the source. Paul recognized why God had refused his request and learned to thank God for every hardship; he knew that when he was at his weakest, he could experience God’s power more fully and would in fact no longer be personally weak, but spiritually strong. It is an attitude that every disciple should strive to embrace!
~ Pastor Jane
Song for Reflection - “Weakness for Strength” by Go Deep - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RQgbCchs9E
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 26, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Called by God—Hearing His Voice” – Communion & Sharing Sunday
Text – 1 Samuel 1-7
Prayer Emphasis Week – “God’s Power Made Perfect in Weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
What are some of the keys to hearing from God? Listening is just one component. [get responses--wanting to hear, asking for God to speak, having the right attitude, paying attention]
Sometimes it is as simple as being able to recognize His voice when He speaks!
Often times, we don’t hear God because we assume that we know what He would say, or He says something we don’t want to hear. There are times that He chooses to be silent to help us in learning dependence on Him, but at other times we don’t hear Him because we’re just too busy listening to other voices. When God first spoke to Samuel, Samuel heard Him calling, but didn’t know who it was that was trying to get his attention. Samuel had come to live in the Tabernacle and work for the priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas when he was just a boy. His mother, Hannah, had been unable to have children and told God that if He would grant her a son, she would give him back to God to work at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. God heard her prayers and allowed her to conceive. Did God require her to give up her young son, Samuel, in order for her to answer her prayer? I don’t believe so, but God did bless her gift and it is obvious from a young age that God had a plan for Samuel.
“GOD SPEAKS TO SAMUEL”
1 Samuel 3:1-10 – Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. 2 One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. 4 Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5 He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. 6 Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Eli said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back to bed.”
7 Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. 8 So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 9 So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. 10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Samuel is sleeping in the Tabernacle and hears his name being called. He assumes it is Eli, the aging priest whom he helps out. But when he awakens Eli, the old man assures him that he hasn’t called Samuel and tells him to go back to bed. Samuel has been serving in the Tabernacle under the guidance of the priests, yet the Scripture tells us he did not yet know God. But that was about to all change!
After the third time that Samuel goes to Eli, the priest realizes that something special is happening. He tells Samuel what to say if he hears his name called again, “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.” Samuel does so and God gives him a message for Eli…a message that must have caused the young Samuel some angst to share. But the next morning, Eli doesn’t give Samuel any option but to speak openly; if he doesn’t, Eli pronounces that Samuel should die if he withholds anything from him. So, Samuel tells him straight up. God has rejected Eli, his sons and his future descendants from the priesthood. The men of his family will all have their lives cut short, and to prove the truth of the message, both of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas will die on the same day.
You might think that Eli would be shocked by this message, but it’s actually the second time God has given it to him—once through an unnamed man of God and now confirmed through Samuel. His sons, though priests, are described as ‘scoundrels’ who used their position for their own gain and to abuse others; they had no respect for God and Eli had stood back and watched it happen. Rather than attempting to make things right, Eli resigns himself to the prophetic message. As the years pass, Samuel continues to receive messages from God and he becomes well-known as a prophet. But the time is quickly approaching when God will fulfill His judgement on Eli and his family.
“GOD’S MESSAGE FOR THE ISRAELITES”
1 Samuel 4:1-5 – At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”
4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
The Israelites are exuberant. Yes, the Philistines had killed 4,000, but now the Israelites fully expected, with the Ark of the Covenant—which was normally kept in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle at Shiloh—to gain the upper hand. After all, hadn’t they brought God to the battlefront? God would now become aware of the struggle in which they were engaged. He would now fight for them!
The first thing that stands out to me is their incredible misunderstanding of the nature of God. He isn’t limited to a box. He cannot be contained. Secondly, they were using the Ark like a lucky token. Surely, now God could see what was happening and would act on their behalf. And finally, it is abundantly clear that no one stopped to inquire of God Himself. They recognized that God had allowed them to be defeated, but they came to the wrong conclusion as to the why.
However, bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield did anything but dissuade their enemies. The presence of Israel’s ‘gods’ galvanized the Philistines determination to fight like their souls depended on it…and at the end of the battle they had killed an additional 30,000 Israelites, including Hophni and Phinehas who had come as caretakers of the Ark, and had captured the Ark of the Covenant itself as part of the plunder. God may have permitted the Philistines to gain the upper hand, but He has a message for them as well…
“GOD MESSAGE FOR THE PHILISTINES”
1 Samuel 5 – After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4 But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
6 Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors. 7 When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.” 8 So they called together the rulers of the Philistine towns and asked, “What should we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?” The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic.
10 So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!” 11 The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town. 12 Those who didn’t die were afflicted with tumors; and the cry from the town rose to heaven.
God had sent a message to the Israelites that He would not be used as a lucky charm, and He also sent a message to the Philistines—their god, Dagon, was no match for the God of Israel and they were to return the Ark of the Covenant or suffer the consequences. He spoke quite clearly to the Philistines that He was not to be treated as some captive prize; but it still takes seven months for the rulers of the Philistines to acknowledge that the rats and boils that were causing so much death amongst the people were a punishment from God. They finally relent and decide to send the captured Ark back to Israel, but will do so in a manner that will prove that they have been suffering at God’s hand and the plague has not simply been a coincidence.
They place the Ark on a cart, pulled by two cows with calves that are locked up; these cows have not been trained to pull a cart and their every instinct would have been to stay put with their calves. But in this case, they take a straight line back to Israel, lowing all the way, pulling the Ark behind them. The Philistine leaders follow them to the border separating the two enemy nations and watch as the cows arrive in the Israelite territory of Beth-shemesh. They are left with no doubt as to God’s message for them.
God spoke directly to Samuel and He had a message for the Israelites and the Philistines. The God of the Old Testament is still the God we serve today and He still speaks…but do we hear?
· Do we know enough about Him to recognize His voice? God spoke directly to Samuel, but he did not recognize His voice; I suspect he had never been taught that God could speak directly to him. God still speaks to us today, but if we don’t recognize His voice we’ll be left just as bewildered as Samuel was initially. God can speak to us directly like Samuel; He may speak to us through His word like Daniel; He may speak to us through another like David; or He may speak to us through the storm like Elijah; no matter how He chooses to speak, we are likely to miss hearing and/or understanding Him if we don’t know enough about Him. We should never be satisfied to know ‘of’ God, but should seek to know Him personally. Such an amazing gift that is available to each one of us—a personal relationship with the Sovereign God of the Universe and our loving Heavenly Father!
· We must not make presumptions on what we think God would say rather than asking Him? The Israelites chose to use the Ark of the Covenant like a lucky talisman; they had placed their faith in an object that represented God, rather than God Himself. We as people do this all the time—replacing a relationship with God for mere symbols like the Bible, a church building, a habit or strict adherence to Christianity’s many ‘thou shalt nots.’ Rather than asking for God to speak to us, we assume we already know what He would say given a particular situation…and that is a dangerous assumption. Just ask the 30,000 Israelites who lost their lives in the battle with the Philistines!
· God is more than capable of defending Himself—He doesn’t ask us to serve as His arbitrators against those who don’t know Him, but to love and pray for them—with compassion, grace, forgiveness and generosity. Too many Christians are spending far too much of their time making angry pronouncements and have forgotten Jesus’ expectations of His followers. Debates, accusations, denials, anger, resentment or anxiety will never persuade anyone of the realness of our God and His love for humanity. We are called to be His ambassadors not His attorneys—He is more than fully capable of defending Himself when He deems it necessary.
God is never the victim of man’s scheming and rebellion. Even the cross, though entirely for our benefit, was His choice.
For Further Study
The Chosen – television series on the life of Jesus and his disciples (2 seasons completed and accessible free online at thechosen.tv)
Sunday, October 3, 2021- “Getting What You Want” - In-person and Online
Sunday, October 10, 2021- “After God’s Own Heart” - In-person and Online – Thanksgiving Luncheon (Guests welcome, RSVP required)
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Daily Devotional – Thursday, September 23, 2021
“And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16, NLT)
I find the relationship between the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul fascinating. They could have chosen to be rivals, yet despite their differences, they knew there was too much at stake to allow petty rivalry to get in the way of doing their work of growing the Church. Peter had been called to be one of the twelve apostles; Paul had received his calling on the road to Damascus. Peter’s ministry was primarily to the Jews; Paul’s work took him to the Gentiles. Peter had received a vision from God that he was to accept the Gentiles as equals (Acts 10:11-16); Paul reprimanded Peter to his face for his return to Jewish law with regard to the Gentiles when visited by other Jewish believers from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-13). The Apostle Peter was well-supported and even fawned over when he visited believers in various locations, whereas Paul was often required to support himself to do ministry with his own means (1 Corinthians 9:4-6). They both are credited with letters that are included in the New Testament, yet when opportunity arose for Peter to discredit Paul (even after the episode referred to in Galatians), Peter refuses and instead points out the error of those who have twisted the meaning of Paul’s letters to suit their own purposes.
Christian leaders and all believers from different parts of the world and various denominations, would all do well to follow the lead of these two great apostles. Their relationship was not all smooth sailing; their callings differed from one another; their experiences and the way they went about fulfilling their callings were at times very different. Yet, they never took up positions as rivals. Neither should we. Jesus put this need for believers to get along quite succinctly, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). In this regard today’s Church can do better—we must do better! There is still too much at stake to allow petty rivalries to get in the way of doing the work of growing the Church.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, September 21, 2021
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. 10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11, NLT)
It is obvious from Peter’s words that he recognized that our inclusion in God’s family was not earned, but was a result of God’s fulfilling His promises to those who choose to believe in and follow Jesus. So why the emphasis on ‘work?’ Because our faith in God is not merely something we know, it is to inspire us to action. The work we do in response to our faith acts to further transform us, motivate us and protect us.
God has given us promises which allow us to ‘share His divine nature’—the Holy Spirit actually indwells those who choose to follow Christ—and to ‘escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires’—the things we want from and out of life, as a follower in Christ, are to change to match God’s. Unfortunately, however, we are bombarded everyday with messages that run contrary to ‘godly living.’ God has given us everything we need, but we still must actively work to ‘respond to His promises,’ which is where our work needs to begin—so that we aren’t inadvertently fighting the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation in our lives. Peter encourages us to add moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection and love for all to the visible outworking of our faith.
He then explains why this is so important; so that our knowledge of Jesus will be ‘productive and useful.’ It is possible to know about Jesus and still remain unproductive and useless in His kingdom…to be so divided in our loyalties, that our faith benefits no one, not even ourselves. Don’t forget, even the demons believe in Jesus…and tremble. Belief alone is not enough. Without working to ‘add’ to our faith, our religious talk will only ever be empty words. We must also demonstrate the veracity and benefits of our faith, by living as real examples of having God living within us—changing us from the inside out! Our motivations in life should reflect our relationship with Jesus, not an affinity to this world and its ideals.
Finally, Peter tells us that we are to work hard to ‘prove that [we] really are among those God has called and chosen.’ Why is this necessary? So that we never fall away. Peter personally experienced a moment when he was tempted to fall away. Following his denials that he even knew Jesus, I believe Peter went through a period of wondering if he had totally blown it; that by having denied knowing Jesus, he was no longer worthy to be a follower of Jesus. In fact, even after having seen Jesus’ in resurrected flesh, Peter still returned to fishing. Jesus met Peter, and the others who had joined him, on the beach with a breakfast He had prepared for them. Jesus knew Peter was being tested—wasn’t that exactly what He had warned Peter was going to happen? So, Jesus again makes it clear to Peter, that his job is no longer to catch fish, it is to catch people for the kingdom. There is another miraculous catch of fish and then Jesus bares Peter’s inward thoughts by asking three times, ‘Do you love me?’ Peter professes his love, which Jesus already knows, but recognizes that Peter needs both His reassurance and Peter’s own recognition that he does indeed love Jesus. Jesus knew that Peter needed a level of protection against his own guilty conscience and self-condemning thoughts that would have left him forever second-guessing Jesus’ call on his life. After that, if there was ever a moment Peter doubted his calling, scripture doesn’t record it.
We, too, would do well to heed Peter’s advice—some of which I believe he gained the hard way. Those of us who are convinced that Jesus provided for our forgiveness and is the way to God and eternity in heaven, have God’s provision of all that we need to live godly lives, pleasing to Him. But that does not mean we can now sit back, take it easy and wait for our turn to walk through heaven’s gates. There is work to be done in the areas of our transformation, motivations and for our protection.
~ Pastor Jane
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 19, 2021
Youtube Link... https://youtu.be/2Bp7sYav-Hg
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 19, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “The Messiah was a Descendant of the Moabites? No Way!”
Text – Book of Ruth
Review - Who were the Moabites? They were the descendants of Moab, the son conceived by Lot through his eldest daughter after the Sodom and Gomorrah affair (Genesis 19:30-38). As a nation, they worshipped Chemosh and their religious observances included human sacrifice. There was bad blood between the Moabites and the Israelites…the king of Moab had tried to have the people of Israel cursed prior to their crossing into the promised land and they were among the people groups whom God had forbidden His chosen people to make treaties with. During the time of the kings, many of the prophets warned of God’s pending judgement on Moab; He would crush them because of their misplaced worship and, as a nation, they would never rise again (Jeremiah 48).
However, as we will learn from today’s story, this did not prevent anyone of Moabite origin from choosing to serve God—Ruth serves as proof of this fact. For those of you who know Ruth’s story, how would you describe her? [get responses] When the story of Ruth is told it is often her obedient loyalty to Naomi that is highlighted…such a wonderful daughter-in-law, such a wonderful example of humble, submissive, obedient femininity…
If that’s the version of Ruth you have been introduced to, may I take some time this morning to paint a broader picture of this amazing woman who was faithful to her mother-in-law, but also faith-filled—having come to believe and follow the God of the Israelites; who was submissive, but also confident; both loyal and courageous…and blessed by God as she sought to build a new life in a new land, with a new people.
Today, I want us to learn about Ruth directly from the book that contains her story and bears her name, Ruth.
“RUTH THE STUBBORNLY FAITHFUL”
Ruth 1:1-18 – In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.
3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept. 10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.” 14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.”
Because of a famine an Israelite man had moved his family out of the promised land to Moab. It may have seemed like a wise choice at the time given their options, but it spells out trouble for his widow when he dies. She is now left alone with her two sons, who marry local women, but within ten years they too die and she is left alone widowed with her two newly widowed daughters-in-law. Naomi decides to return to her hometown…in truth, she really wouldn’t have had many options—better a destitute widow amongst her own people than with the Moabites by whom she would have been viewed a foreigner.
As widows, Naomi, Orpah and Ruth had no protection and no legal rights; they were in a potentially desperate situation. So, the three women set off together, but Naomi encourages Orpah and Ruth to return to their families. She knows that bringing them along with her will in all likelihood result in hardship for not only her, but even worse for them as foreigners from the land of Moab. I suspect she cared enough for these young women not to wish them harm. So, after repeated encouragement, Orpah makes the difficult decision to return to her family—life won’t be easy, but she will have the comfort of some familiarity. The easier thing for Ruth to do would have been to return to her family and Naomi gave her the out she needed, but she refused to take it. It may have been the most logical choice, but Ruth rejected the option. Returning to her family would have meant returning to her old life; if she walked away from Naomi, she was as good as walking away from God, too. Ruth was adamant—she had chosen her side and she would not be dissuaded. Ruth turned her back on her life in Moab for an unknown future with Yahweh. She would remain stubbornly faithful, come what may.
“RUTH THE COURAGEOUS"
Ruth 1:19-2:23 – So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest. 2 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. 2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said. “The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied. 5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” 6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” 10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” 14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.
15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” 17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.
19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.” 20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.” 21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.” 22 Naomi exclaimed. “Good! Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”
23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.
Once Naomi and Ruth found themselves back in Naomi’s hometown, they still needed to find a way to take care of themselves…no easy feat given the restrictions placed on women during this point in history. But they needed to eat, so Ruth approached Naomi with her plan. She would go and harvest grain as permitted to the poor. God had given a practice for the people to follow during the time of Moses; it was a means of ensuring that the poor would be provided for, “9 When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10). So, Ruth’s plan was to do just that—to collect any grain that she could find around the edges of the fields being harvested and to pick up anything that was dropped in hopes of providing her and Naomi with enough food to sustain them.
Straightforward enough, but certainly not without risks. Not all land owners followed the practice and a woman alone risked being taken advantage of. But they were desperate and Ruth courageously followed the one course of action available to them for finding food. And God protected her and provided for both Naomi and Ruth. She ‘coincidently’ finds herself gleaning in a field owned by a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband.
From the brief conversation between Boaz and his foreman, it is obvious that she has won their admiration for her hard work and steadfast loyalty to provide not only for herself, but also for her mother-in-law. Boaz encourages her to stay on throughout all the harvests; he even takes steps to ensure her safety from unwanted attention and for her to more easily collect all that she and Naomi will need—not just to scrape by, but to have enough to provide for them in the coming months. It is obviously an arrangement that works well in the short-term, but Naomi begins to make a plan of her own for their care in the long-term.
“RUTH THE CONFIDENT”
Ruth 3 – One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” 5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.
7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.
16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?” Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”
What was Naomi’s plan? To have Ruth propose marriage to Boaz! Up to this point Ruth has done all she has been able to think of to take care of herself and Naomi. But propose to this elderly landowner…kind relative or not…might have caused her to hesitate. Who was she, as a foreigner, to make the first move to mention marriage? And given Boaz’s character, I doubt there had been any indication on his part that he might be open to the suggestion. He has been more than generous to help them, but this would bring his ‘help’ to an all-new level.
But as crazy as Naomi’s plan might appear to us, it was actually another provision that God had made for the care of widows and for the continuation of an individual’s family name if a man should die without children, “If two brothers are living together on the same property and one of them dies without a son, his widow may not be married to anyone from outside the family. Instead, her husband’s brother should marry her and have intercourse with her to fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law. The first son she bears to him will be considered the son of the dead brother, so that his name will not be forgotten in Israel” (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). This principle was extended to apply to more distant relations as well.
So, despite a certain amount of nervousness I’m sure, and with Naomi’s instructions in mind, Ruth confidently goes to the threshing floor and does exactly as she has been told. Ruth proposed to Boaz and Boaz, after some initial shock, said, “Yes!” But there’s just one catch. Not just any family member could serve as the ‘kinsmen redeemer;’ it had to be the closest male relative…and there was one closer than Boaz. Now it’s up to Boaz to clear the last obstacle for Naomi and Ruth to finally know some long-term stability.
“RUTH THE BLESSED”
Ruth 4:1-17 – Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.” The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”
5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.” He quickly changed his mind. 6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”
7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.” 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”
11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”
13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.
God provides Ruth and Naomi with a needed protector and legal representative. He provides the faithful Boaz with a lovely and honourable young wife. He provides a son for the continuation of Elimelech’s name and land, which will offer future protection for the women in his family. And God provides Ruth with the honour of being included in the lineage of King David and of the promised Messiah!
What are we to take from Ruth’s story?
· God turned what could have been a terrible tragedy into a story that demonstrates His incredible love for humanity and His faithfulness to all who will serve Him loyally. Ruth’s story gives us hope in the midst of life’s momentary heartbreaks and despair. Naomi had given up all hope for a good future, certain that God was punishing her family, but her story wasn’t over. God had brought Ruth into her life—it was no mere coincidence. And while Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to give up on her, God knew just what she needed to help her through—stubbornly faithful Ruth! We, too, need to be careful not to push away the very people that God brings into our lives to help us through tough spots. And like Ruth, we should also remain faithful to God, no matter the personal cost. This life is temporary and we have a hope worth holding onto no matter our circumstances at this moment.
· Long before Ruth lived, God had put together provisions that would directly benefit her—that of ensuring that the poor could have food to eat through gleaning and that widows could be cared for and family names continued through a kinsman redeemer. God had provided, but it still required Ruth to be courageous and confident. If she had been too timid to act, Naomi and she might have both starved, and she certainly would never have known the blessing of getting married and having a family again. What are the things that are currently holding you back from realizing God’s work in your life due to fear? When our faith is in God and not our own abilities or in others, we have every right to be courageous and confident. The Bible is clear that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear is a weapon of the enemy to keep us from living in complete obedience to God. We must never let it get the better of us. Just think of all Ruth would have missed out on if she had.
· By rejecting to do what could have proved to be much easier, and choosing her faith in God and loyalty to her new family, Ruth experienced God’s incredible blessing on her life—something she would have totally missed out on if she had stayed in Moab. Tragedy forced her to leave her homeland, but in so doing, she became a valued member of a new community. I suspect that when they first arrived back, Ruth would have found few friends amongst the Israelites; but after the birth of Obed, even the old women had to admit that Ruth had been to Naomi ‘better than seven sons!’ Living a life of loyalty and faith to God is not easy and there are often what appear to be much easier routes to take in life; but ultimately, it is only those who choose the more difficult path of faithfulness who experience God’s blessing in their lives.
For Further Study
The Bible Project – Overview: Ruth - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h1eoBeR4Jk
Sunday, September 26, 2021- “Called by God” (Samuel) - In-person and Online
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, September 15, 2021
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT)
Just asking the question, “Is God trustworthy?” can feel sacrilegious to many believers, like asking if prayer is important. We can respond with the knee jerk reaction, “Of course!” But stop for a second. How many of us, despite knowing that prayer is important—that as the direct line to God it is absolutely essential to our spiritual health—still struggle with the practice of prayer? Well, the same is true when it comes to trusting God. The question to consider isn’t really about God’s trustworthiness, but whether or not you and I trust Him to the degree that we should. Because, despite our quick affirmations that God is trustworthy, many of us are living our lives as though we are the only ones we can depend on.
Do we pray for God’s help before or after we hit the unmovable obstacle? Do we wait for God’s response to prayers or do we charge ahead? Do we experience peace when circumstances are threatening or do we become fearful and anxious? In what do we place our security—money, RRSPs, job, health, family…or God? If we awoke tomorrow to devastating news of some sort, would we still trust the One who we claim is trustworthy?
Trusting God is difficult because we keep getting in the way. We’re like the toddler with their often repeated assertion, “Me do!”…only to come crying to God with the broken pieces in our hands after our own attempts at independence have failed. You see, I think that trusting God has a lot to do with dependence. When it comes to being children of our Almighty Father, He wants us to rely on Him…entirely. We are never to outgrow our need for God—ever! Yes, we need to mature—to grow in our relationship with Him and our obedience of Him—but remaining reliant on God is not a sign of weakness or immaturity. It is wisdom in action! Why reject dependence on an entirely trustworthy God in a world that too often is filled with disappointments?
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, September 14, 2021
“When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.’ Others said, ‘He is the Messiah.’ Still others said, ‘But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.’” (John 7:40-42, NLT)
Is it possible to be too smart for our own good when it comes to understanding God? Absolutely! Look at the example of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. They had spent their lifetimes studying the Scriptures and teaching about the Messiah; they were experts in the Law, yet when God showed up in the flesh, they didn’t recognize Him. It begs the question of us, “How well do we know God?” Jesus caused quite the stir in His day, but mostly because many of the religious leaders refused to give credence to the fact of who He was. They stared God in the face and decided that it couldn’t possibly be Him. Why? Because they thought they held all the pieces to the puzzle for being able to recognize the Messiah, but they did not.
Despite the miracles Jesus did—feeding 5,000 with just two fish and five loaves, causing a man born blind to see and even raising a dead man back to life (to name but a few)—those who had spent their lives studying God’s word and teaching it to others, could not recognize or simply refused to acknowledge their own ignorance.
What they thought they knew stood in their way of truly understanding the person and work of the Messiah: “The Messiah isn’t going to come from Galilee, but will be born in Bethlehem” (John 7:42). “When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from” (John 7:27). “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained” (John 7:15)? “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas” (Matthew 13:55). Instead of allowing Jesus to reveal Himself and the Father to them, they adamantly rejected Him…even attempting to stone and arrest Him on multiple occasions!
But, before we judge them too harshly, we really must consider how well we ourselves know God. Are there things we ‘know’ that stand in the way of truly understanding the heart of God? Some of us err on the side of demanding that all adhere to what we have determined to be the marks of a good Christian—all the while refusing to extend the love of God to others. Others of us err on the side of unquestioning tolerance—and water down the fact that, while God is most definitely love, grace and mercy, He is also just and expects His children to adhere to His commands. The religious leaders serve as a warning for us. Will we too miss out on knowing God because He doesn’t show up in the way we expect or will we acknowledge that it is impossible to know God entirely? That we may in fact be blind and incapable of understanding who He really is until we set aside what we think we already know?
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!