Daily Devotional–Tuesday, March 30, 2021
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV)
When we pray, do we praise? It is an essential part of the time we spend with God. Unfortunately, it is easy to develop the habit of reducing our prayers to a list of needs and wants. Asking God to work on our behalf or for others is very much a part of prayer, but it can’t make up the bulk of our conversations. How would your friend respond to you, if every time you rang them up or messaged them, it was for a favour? “Hi, _____. Can you help me with _____? And my friend could really use _____. Thanks”…end of conversation.
Our times of prayer must first acknowledge the wonderful privilege we have to be able to ask our Sovereign God for anything. The fact that he is even willing to hear our prayers is nothing short of a miracle. By his grace and never-ending love, we can talk with the Creator of the Universe as we would a loving parent. It is right and needful that we praise God; when we don’t, we risk taking this amazing privilege of being able to speak to God Almighty for granted. God wants to hear from us; he also wants us to hear from him. Reducing God to the function of a gold VISA card—by whipping him out only when we need something—puts us at risk of not being heard by him at all.
Today, when you pray, take a moment to remember to whom it is that you are speaking. Praise him! Repent of the ways you have mistreated your relationship and demeaned his awesomeness. Thank him for his generous work on your behalf. Present your needs and wants. And don’t forget to stop and listen before pronouncing the ‘Amen.’ God isn’t interested in a monologue. His desire is for regular dialogue with each of his children!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional February 2nd
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:1-3)
If you’ve paying any attention at all to global news, it would be tempting to conclude that the world has lost its collective mind. The news of the military coupe that took place yesterday in Myanmar is becoming far too unsurprising. In one short month the amount of global unrest has been breathtaking: the storming of the US Capitol; anti-government protests in Russia that have resulted in 5,000 imprisoned; violent scenes in many European countries; growing numbers of anti-mask, anti-vaccine and anti-curfew demonstrations worldwide; various hostile nations flexing their military muscles; vaccination sites shuttered because of threats. Humanity appears to be on the verge of losing all ability to reason as we propel ourselves on a self-destructive trajectory, propelled ever forward by our fear and anxiety. What is it going to take to stop this runaway train of blind reactions and growing distrust and hatred?
It may appear like a helpless situation, but truth be told, the current protests, violence and powerplays by various individuals and groups are nothing new in the history of the world. True, we have not seen anything quite like it in our lifetimes, but a quick walk back through time demonstrates our natural responses to fear and anxiety—fight and/or flight. While some of our global population are in the process of trying to escape unrest, equal numbers appear hellbent on creating it. So, what’s the answer?
I believe prayer and turning to God for answers is the place we must begin. But what should we pray for? May I suggest that in the midst of our current turmoil and confusion, one of the things we desperately need are voices of reason. There is a story in the New Testament of a silversmith named Demetrius who made his living through the manufacturing of idols of the goddess Artemis in the city of Ephesus (Acts 19). When Paul arrived and started making a number of converts to the Way (the first name by which Christians were known), Demetrius felt his livelihood threatened. He gathered others in the industry to express his concerns, slander these new beliefs being espoused by Paul and stir them up to action. He was so successful in stirring the pot, that Luke reports ‘their anger boiled…and the whole city was thrown into confusion.’ Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, many not understanding even why they were there, they just knew they were under threat. At one point, the scene includes an entire two-hour timeframe of people simply chanting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” Can’t you just picture it? Sounds a bit like scenes from 2021 doesn’t it?
But just as one individual, spurred on by his own fear and ulterior motives was able to produce this seething, confused mob that jeopardized the peace of a whole city, a single voice of reason was all it took to disperse these same irrational protestors who had jumped on the bandwagon. The unnamed mayor of Ephesus, a man recognized as holding a position of influence, introduces some common sense. He admonishes the crowd and reminds them that if Demetrius and the others have a valid case there are proper channels and protocol to follow. He also reminds them of the very real Roman displeasure that this rioting will bring. His voice of reason prevails and the hotheads are dispersed.
Today, as never before, I would encourage all believers to please pray for more voices of reason, individuals capable of injecting calm in the midst of our global turmoil. Pray to be used as an instrument of peace and to resist the urge to blindly jump on any number of the available bandwagons that just seem to keep rolling unchecked ever downward on the path of destruction. Violence is never a solution for fear and anxiety. And finally remember the words of the proverb, “The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.” God is not blind to what is going on and someday we will all be called to give an account for how we chose to respond. Let’s do so wisely!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional 29 Sept 2020
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
If you’re like me, you’ve been keeping an eye on the progression of the coronavirus cases in Canada and specifically in Ontario this fall as our province has begun the process of opening up. If so, yesterday marked a discomfiting milestone–over 2,100 new cases in Canada and 700 in the province alone–a one day high that has not been seen since the onset of the spread of the COVID-19. Those who predicted a ‘second wave’ can take little comfort in having been right. Unfortunately this is just the beginning of the newest build-up and is likely to climb much higher very quickly. In the face of this continuing and exacerbated situation, I have had one overwhelming thought; I am so glad that I am not one of our provincial leaders attempting to discern a solution! It is not pessimistic to wonder if there even is one...aside from God’s divine intervention! So what can we do? May I suggest that aside from trying to abide by the rules around mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing and isolation when necessary, that there really is only one solution...prayer!
What should we pray about? We can pray for God to intervene and miraculously eliminate the virus (though it is my conviction that He is permitting it to allow for a greater purpose than we have yet to acknowledge on a global scale). We can pray for the safety and health of our family and neighbours. We can pray for the healing of those who are sick. We can pray for the comfort and peace of those who have lost loved ones. But may I also suggest that we get very intentional in our prayers for our civic leaders–our elected government officials. How many of them couldn’t even have dreamed of the crisis they have been called upon to navigate on the day they were cheered for their electoral victories? I for one do not envy their role. But today’s verse reminds me of the role I need to play in their success as our leaders; I need to be praying for them–interceding on their behalf and thanking God for their leadership. I can’t imagine having to walk in their shoes these days...and many are probably having trouble with it themselves. Pray for their well-being–emotional, social, physical and spiritual. Pray that they have wisdom and discernment that comes from God as they attempt to address the newest surging numbers of infections. And pray that we as a populace will learn to comply and support them.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 18 August 2020
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
What do you do when faced with a problem? Not just a little inconvenience, but an apparently insurmountable dilemma? Some of us cower in fear and despair, while others of us go into problem solving mode ready to force a solution. Neither guarantees a desirable outcome and we often make things worse rather than better. Our best plan is to make prayer our first step. Today, I want to take a look at a time from the life of King Hezekiah to examine what this can look like in our lives.
God had allowed the Assyrians to effectively annihilate the people of Israel under King Shalmaneser. The nation of Israel had turned their backs on God and He had removed His protection; after a three year siege of the city of Samaria, the nation of Israel crumbled under the pressure and the city was destroyed and the remaining inhabitants were exiled to other lands by their conquerors. Eight years later the Assyrians came back under their new king, Sennacherib, this time for Judah.
Unlike the nation of Israel, the nation of Judah, under King Hezekiah, was living in obedience to God. In fact, after the reign of King David, 2 Kings 18:5-7 tells us that, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.” Successful...but not without difficulties! Fourteen years into his reign, at the age of 39, King Hezekiah is faced with the biggest challenge of his life to date. The Assyrian army has parked itself outside the walls of Jerusalem and is intent on waiting as long as is necessary to be able to add the nation of Judah to its list of conquests.
King Hezekiah sends out a delegation to speak with the Assyrian chief of staff. It is apparent they aren’t interested in any sort of negotiation. In his distress, King Hezekiah knows there is only one thing for him to do; he goes to the Temple to pray. He also sends his delegation to the prophet Isaiah for any direction he may have received from the Lord. Isaiah sends back this message, “This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword” (2 Kings 19:6-7).
But, the siege did not magically disappear. However, within a short time, the king of Assyria got word that the Ethiopians were mounting an attack and some of the army left to shore up this new military front. But even still, Jerusalem remained under siege. In fact, King Sennacherib sent a note to King Hezekiah warning him not to consider this brief reprieve as anything other than a slight change of plans. He had every intention of coming back with his full army to finish the job. With letter in hand, King Hezekiah once again visited the Temple to pray and lay out the impossible situation he was facing again before God.
Again, the prophet Isaiah had some encouraging words, ““His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city, says the Lord” (2 Kings 19:32-33). And that very night, after King Hezekiah had received Isaiah’s message, “the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there” (19:35-36). God had not only responded to King Hezekiah’s prayer, He had decisively moved against King Sennacherib who had to admit defeat. And while King Hezekiah went on to continue to reign in Jerusalem for another fifteen years, Sennacherib was murdered shortly thereafter by two of his own sons (19:37).
What can we learn from Hezekiah’s story? How did he deal with insurmountable situations? His response was always the same. Go to the place of prayer. Meet with God. Seek His solution! Might I suggest we do the same.
~ 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!