Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, June 30, 2021
“…God will not forget…” (Hosea 9:9, NLT)
As I was reading in the book of Hosea this morning, one line stood out to me, “God will not forget.” Forget what? Hosea is in the process of outlining the reasons why God has rejected the people of Israel. Their coming enslavement and dissolution at the hands of the Assyrians is as a direct result for sin. They have played the prostitute by going after other gods rather than remaining entirely faithful to the Lord their God. But in the midst of Hosea’s words, he accuses the people of having become as depraved as they were in Gibeah.
Gibeah represented a dark mark on the historical timeline of Israel (Judges 19-21). A traveling Levite and his concubine had been welcomed into the home of a man from the tribe of Ephraim for the night. But a number of men from the tribe of Benjamin, in whose territory Gibeah was located, surrounded the house, demanding that the Levite be given up to them to be sexually assaulted. The host tries to persuade the men to take his two virgin daughters and the man’s concubine instead as replacements, but they refuse the offer. Finally, as they appear to be ready to break down the door, the Levite pushes his concubine out to them. She is gang raped all night and, in the morning, manages to crawl back to the doorstep of their host where she dies.
What follows next is equally horrendous. The people’s solution to this great sin brings more unspeakable horrors for those caught up in the story—the tribal leaders stand by the perpetrators of this terrible crime, resulting in the destruction of the entire tribe of Benjamin with the exception of 600 men. But it doesn’t stop there. In their regret over the possibility that one of the tribes of Israel will cease to exist, the other tribes obliterate the town of Jabesh-Gilead minus 400 virgins that they steal away to be made wives of these surviving men of Benjamin; then, they instruct those that are still left without wives to abduct 200 more young women from Shiloh as they go out to celebrate an annual festival to the Lord. It’s enough to cause one’s blood to boil or be entirely repulsed by the depraved nature of the human condition on the whole.
But we’re not the only ones who recoil at these injustices. And while we may desire to forget and paint a new historical narrative for ourselves, there is one who will never forget…or rest until justice is served. Our Almighty God! Before we move on, shaking our heads in disbelief about what people were capable of in the distant past, let us not forget our own more recent history. Crimes committed against the First Nations people should cause us to cringe even more than this awful story found in Scripture, because, for Canadians, it is our own. It is neither helpful to remain willfully ignorant nor overly reactive (as in the biblical story). God has not forgetten…He will never forget, despite our attempts to rewrite and ignore our history.
Tomorrow, on Canada Day, let us remember, too. It is good to mark the occasion of a birthday, but I would encourage everyone to do so by demonstrating a new solidarity with our First Nations people. Take a moment to reflect with solemnity on what the occasion of our birthday means for others. Tomorrow, I invite you to join the many who will choose to stand with the first of our nation’s inhabitants. Let’s wear orange and black, rather than red and white, to acknowledge the pain being experienced by many of those who we share this land with. We can’t go back, but let’s commit to moving forward together, committed to a long-term healing process not a short-lived knee jerk reaction. It’s only as we remember that we ensure that we won’t repeat the past. And never forget…God will not forget.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, June 29, 2021
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)
The idea struck me anew this morning, that God’s Word is not ‘G’ rated. I do believe that we do well to downplay some of the grittier portions of Scripture as we teach lessons to children. Esther is a wonderful story of courage and God’s deliverance, but our reducing the process of Esther’s being chosen as queen to a mere beauty pageant, leaves out some details of the actual process not suitable for a younger audience. Tamar’s tricking Judah into impregnating her is a story often left untaught—there’s just no way to tell it in a child-friendly way. Demon possession, murder, revenge, child sacrifice, enslavement, it’s all there in God’s Word, and more in fact. Some of these things are just too upsetting to children, and may be better left for a time when they have more maturity.
But here’s another reality worth considering. How many Christians rely on the Bible lessons from their childhood to guide them in their adult thinking about God—these water downed, sanitized versions of the people and events as recorded in Scripture? We are told that the whole of the Bible is useful for putting our lives under God’s righteous ‘spotlight’—correcting us and teaching us. As adults we may be able to recite the story of David’s incredible faith to take on a giant with nothing more than a sling and some stones; but do we understand the depths to which his relationship with God was threatened when he forced himself upon Bathsheba and had her husband killed in an attempt to cover up his guilt? Or what of Jesus’ disciples? When he said, “Follow me,” that did not eliminate the needed refining process of their characters. Peter, ever a brash individual, almost gave up his calling, under the weight of his guilt after claiming he didn’t know Jesus, and made plans to go back to fishing (John 21:3). James and John, nicknamed the, “Sons of Thunder,” had some temper issues (Mark 3:17). Thomas remained too dependent on physical proof for his belief (John 20:27-29). Philip still looked for further signs of God (John 14:9). And Judas, after following Jesus, still didn’t get it and sold Jesus out (Matthew 26: 14-16).
The Bible contains some graphic stories that should make us squirm; the stories of the Bible do not contain ‘and they lived happily ever after’ Disney-endings. God is unapologetic in His depiction of the human condition under the influence of sin. And while it may be good to soften the edges for children, to do so as adults leaves us ignorant. All of Scripture is inspired, is useful and is true; we do well to resist the temptation to set any portion of it on a back shelf while we focus our attention on the less disturbing, more affirming parts of God’s Word. Never stop reading, never stop learning, never stop the Holy Spirit from revealing further truths to you that you may not have grasped from your lessons when you were less spiritually mature. God still has much to say to us…His Word is not just a nice bedtime story…it should shake us out of all our self-made comfort zones.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #devotional #2Timothy316 #bible
Daily Devotional – Monday, June 28, 2021
“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (Exodus 34:14, NLT)
When I think of the attribute of jealousy, my thoughts focus primarily on how it is lived through sinful human beings. Generated by envy, it is capable of producing no good thing. But jealousy is not for that reason an attribute that is necessarily always evil. I was reminded of this as I was going through a teaching lesson on the Ten Commandments. We are not to covet or desire after things that don’t belong to us; when we do, wrong displays of jealousy can produce the exact opposite of the love that we are to have for God and others. However, all jealousy does not stem from a desire to have what belongs to another.
God names Himself, ‘Jealous,’ and warns the Israelites that they are not to worship any other gods or create idols to bow down to, because He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). As this quality is being attributed to God, it cannot be evil. So, how are we to understand jealousy as ‘righteous?’ Because God is not envious of something that belongs to another; He is protective of what belongs to Him. And make no mistake, we belong to Him. He formed the first man, breathed His breath into the mound of dirt which then became a living being; that same breath continues to produce life in each one of us to this day. It is He who plans us (Ephesians 2:10), makes us (Psalm 139:13-16), sustains us (Psalm 145:16-17) and determines our days (Job 14:5). And, perhaps most amazingly of all, we are each made in His image (Genesis 1:27), for Himself (Romans 7:4-6). He is well within His rights to be jealous when we act as though He must compete for our affection and worship.
God’s jealousy for our worship and devotion does not stem from insecurity, meanness or from being overly protective. We belong to Him and have no right to choose to give Him less than our full devotion, even though He has provided us with freewill and can do so. He does not force us to accept His place in our lives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for choosing to reject Him. Not because He’s vindictive, but because we have chosen to live our lives outside of His perfect Will to our own detriment. If you struggle with God’s assertion that you belong to Him, ask yourself these questions: Who but God knows you better? Who but the Creator sees the big picture of your life? Who but the Father loves you so much, that He would choose to make a way for you to be His child, even after rejecting Him? Yes, He is a jealous God, and He is also love, gracious, just and forgiving. Why would anyone refuse that kind of jealous love?
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #devotional #jealousgod #righteousjealousy
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, June 27, 2021
Message on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTmGFHMMJeY
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Hearing from God – Obeying His Commandments” – Communion Sunday
Text – Micah 6:1-8; Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 6:1-8; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:37-40
When a parent asks their child, ‘Did you hear me?’ it involves more than just the act of being able to repeat what has been said, but entails comprehension and often some needed action. The same is true of the child of God. When God speaks to us, He isn’t looking for us to merely mimic back His words. His desire is that we will understand and obey.
We often look at God’s commands as rules—things we must and must not do. Today, I want to challenge that notion. Rather than looking at God’s Laws, and specifically the Ten Commandments, as a list of rules, we should view them as a gift, a means by which we can express our love for God.
As foreign as that may seem to us, is that not exactly what Jesus meant when He said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others? In fact, He further explained that all of the Laws (there are more than ten) and words of the prophets are based on these two commandments. The undergirding principle of our faith is to be love and devotion. Unfortunately, we often turn our relationship with God into one of dutybound compliance, rather than loyalty that stems from our adoration.
God does not want to have a loveless relationship with anyone. It is only when love is our primary motivation that we will experience what it means to be a child of God, to experience the joy of the Lord, to know peace, confidence and contentment as Christ-followers. The same was true for the newly freed Israelites; so with God’s own hand, He wrote them a “How to Show God Love - Manual for Dummies”—the Ten Commandments.
EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE AND LOYALTY TO GOD
Exodus 20:1-11 – “Then God gave the people all these instructions:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
3 “You must not have any other god but me.
4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[b] who love me and obey my commands.
7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”
In Egypt, the Israelites had known of a number of gods and many of the newly freed slaves would have adopted the practice of worshiping them. The Lord God was going to be taking them into new territory where they would learn of even more of these false gods. But He makes it clear to them, that no matter what gods others might serve, they were not to regard any but Him, the great “I AM,” as their God. And He also makes it clear that He is to be worshiped differently. He and His creation are not to be reduced to mere pieces of carved stone or wood, or even objects of silver and gold; their worship is to be directed to Him—He will not be reduced or contained in an object that can be stolen, misplaced or be treated like a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot.’
Most of us don’t have statues as idols, but idolatry is never far from the human heart. In our day and age, what types of things do we idolize? What competes with God for your affections? [money, spouse, children, reputation, possessions, education, ideologies]…the list could truly be endless.
The first two commandments are pretty straightforward, but what about the third? What does it mean that, ‘you must not misuse’ God’s name, or as the King James Version of the Bible reads, ‘you must take the Lord’s name in vain.’ How have you heard this explained? For those who have understood this to mean that you shouldn’t use God’s name as a curse word, I want to expand upon this.
Inclusion of God or Jesus’ name in the list of our bad word vocabulary definitely falls into the category of ‘misusing’ God’s name, but it only represents the tip of the iceberg. While it is often those who do not have a relationship with God that are quick to misuse God’s name in this way, religious people are guilty of a far more repugnant form of using God’s name in vain. Anytime that we dishonour God through our thoughts, words or actions, we are misusing His name because as His representatives, we have misrepresented Him. It’s part of the reason that the crimes against First Nations children in residential schools is so heinous. The abuse by itself was horrendous; the fact that it came at the hands of individuals who claimed to be doing the work of God, takes it to a whole new level.
Anytime we use God to give credence to our own agendas, we are guilty of breaking the third commandment, because we are using our relationship with God to simply get what we want or justify a means to an end. Rather than demonstrating the love that we have for Him, we make Him an accessory in our bad decisions and in our attempts to spiritually bully others. History is full of examples. The Crusades, which were little more than land grabs, were given the blessing of the Church. Galileo was first excommunicated and then died after years of house arrest because he disputed the Church’s understanding that the earth was the centre of the universe. When abolitionists called for an end to slavery, others pointed to texts of Scripture to shore up their support of slavery.
Sports teams pray for God’s help to win their games; movie actors thank God at award nights. Televangelists bring in millions of dollars and live in luxury; politicians tell Christians what they want to hear in order to win their vote. All can be guilty of misrepresenting God, feigning a relationship with Him only to gain an edge or approval. Whenever we are tempted to score a point in an argument that begins with, “God says…” we must be very careful that we aren’t misquoting Him for our own purposes.
We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, His representatives on earth. We need to take our lead from how He walked on this planet. Speaking truth, but loving unreservedly. Spending time with sinners and the self-righteous. Pointing everyone to the Father and not trying to build up His own reputation. When we follow His example, we will not be found guilty of misusing God’s name, but of bringing Him honour.
And then the fourth command, “Keep the Sabbath day holy.” How? Just by not working? Going to a church service? No. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us, not just another restriction placed on our lives to keep us compliant. Think of this commandment as our opportunity to spend time with God, much like a family might get together to hangout or like a couple might set aside regular time for date nights. God wants to spend time with us and He knew that without the Sabbath—a deliberate time set apart to spend with Him—He would be squeezed out by the business of life, just as can happen to our time spent with family and friends when we are not intentional.
To understand how important it is to set aside intentional time to spend with God, it might be helpful to think of God as waiting for us to slow down for an opportunity to truly connect. He is always with us, but too often we ignore His presence in our daily lives. He cherishes the time we take to spend with Him, talking to Him, reading His Word, hanging out with the other members of our heavenly family, even just sitting comfortably in silence with Him. Spending time with Him is an expression of our continued and tangible love and loyalty of our God and Father.
But that’s just the first four of the Ten Commandments. The next six focus on our relationships with people. They are not just a list of rules, but provide us with the means to express our love and respect of others, which is equally important to God.
EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE AND RESPECT TOWARDS OTHERS
Exodus 20:12-17 - “12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You must not murder.
14 “You must not commit adultery.
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
How are each of these commandments to be expressions of love and respect toward others?
· Honour your parents—Parents are to be held in high esteem, respected and valued. The relationship we have with our parents is to be for a lifetime. As they met our needs in our growing up years, we are to take care of them as they age. God will honour those who honour their parents, throughout their lifetimes.
· Do not murder—We are to value human life—no matter the age or condition; human life is not to be seen as disposable. We are not to take life, but are to protect, nurture and sustain it. Rather than taking life, we should be looking for ways to improve the lives of the living.
· Do not commit adultery—Just as we cannot expect God to share our affections with multiple gods, we are to exercise fidelity in our relationships with people. God made us sexual beings, both for pleasure and procreation, but He also provided the boundaries for healthy sexual expression—one man and one woman committed for their lives to each another. When a couple unite physically, God views them no longer as two, but as ‘one flesh’ and expects them to be as faithful to one another as to Him. Adultery results in the breaking of that covenantal union.
· Do not steal—Respect other people by acknowledging that what is theirs belongs to them and no one has a right to simply take it. We are to be people who are willing to give and share, never taking what isn’t ours, either by force or covertly.
· Do not testify falsely—Do not lie about another for your own gain; lying about someone is in the same vein as murder. It involves destroying another’s life through the ruination of their reputation. Valuing life involves more than just sustaining a heartbeat.
· Do not covet—Bottom line, we are not to be envious of what another has. Jealousy does not produce love and respect, but rather tears apart. Our aim is to learn to be content with what God provides. Jesus drew a further comparison between coveting and lust. Even if you do not break the seventh commandment by committing the act of adultery, but you ‘want to,’ you break the tenth commandment that tells us not to covet ‘your neighbour’s wife.’ Not only the physical act, but the forbidden desire to do so demonstrates a lack of love and respect of others.
A CALL TO WHOLEHEARTED COMMITMENT
Deuteronomy 6:1-8 - “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, 2 and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. 3 Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
The atrocities that happened in residential schools to children while in the care of the Church, remind us that it will never be enough simply to be able to parrot God’s commands. I dare say, that many of the perpetrators of these crimes could recite more Scripture than any of us. This only demonstrates the fact that the ability to recite the Words of God can never replace our call to embrace them wholeheartedly by living in obedience to them. Our love for God should cause us to commit fully to His expectations, including loving others. Love is the marked difference between adhering to a religion and being in a faithful relationship.
When Moses told the Israelites to repeat God’s commandments, to teach their children, to talk about them and to tie them on their hands and foreheads, he was not telling them that talk was enough; he was saying that to be truly committed to following God’s commandments, they must stay fresh, not forgotten, that they should be practiced often as part of daily life.
Moses’ affirmed the people’s need to ‘love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.’ It was the necessary motivation for obedience so that their adoration didn’t become obligatory adherence. Jesus further expanded on Moses’ words by including love for others in the greatest of commandments and declaring that we are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Do we love God and others as we ought? Don’t be too quick to answer. Do you treat all others the way you want to be treated? All people? Children and the elderly. Your surly neighbour and the more pleasant ones. Those who love God and those who reject His existence. The CEO and the cashier ringing in your groceries. The well-kept and the ‘people of Walmart.’ Those like you and those from other races, religions, the LGBTQ community. If our answer is ‘no’ to any of the above, I wonder if we have truly comprehended what it means to love God either.
Deb’s Story - https://www.christianityexplored.org/Articles/469304/Home/CE_ORG/Real_Life_Stories/Transcripts/04_Debs_Story.aspx
References, Further Study & Encouragement
Residential Schools in Canada - https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools
Christianity Explored: Real Life Stories - https://www.christianityexplored.org/Groups/276318/Home/CE_ORG/Real_Life_Stories/Real_Life_Stories.aspx
Sunday, July 4, 2021- “Short Term Memory – Golden Calf” (Exodus 24-32) – 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–Thursday, June 24, 2021
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NLT)
After God finished His work of birthing the Creation into existence and then calling it all ‘very good,’ He and His creatures enjoyed a relationship of unimpeded community…until the day that the first man and woman disobeyed God. The entrance of sin into this perfect creation introduced a malignant force, ever in opposition to God, that is capable only of creating devastation and ruin, bringing with it death and destruction. The results of sin are many—infecting humanity’s relationship with the planet, with each other and with their Creator. God told them as much in Genesis 3:14-19—He proclaims the serpent cursed for what it has done and promises his eventual defeat at the hands of a future human offspring (Jesus); the earth is now cursed because of the humans’ disobedience and they will now have to fight for survival; the task of ‘multiplying and filling the earth’ will now be fraught with pain; and in her desire for her husband, the woman will give over God’s place in her life to man and man will assume the position of god in their relationship, ruling over her rather than with her. These are not judgements meted out by God, but rather statements of fact. The introduction of sin into creation was going to directly affect everything.
The truth of God’s warning is too evident in our world’s history and remains even to this day. The human race has been in a constant struggle—for survival against nature; for domination in human relationships; and in our rejection of God in favour of self. Specifically, with regard to the ‘suitable helper’ provided by God to man, patriarchy has been allowed to dominate and overtake the rule of creation by equals. But, the shift away from human equality has not simply been segregated to gendered relationships. All hierarchies, whether along the gender divide or race or class are all results of the fall. But God promised, even on that terrible evening in the garden so many long years ago, that He was not going to allow sin to have the final say. A future child of the woman would one day come and defeat the serpent and return God’s creation to its original state—renewing all relationships between nature and humanity, man and woman, humanity and God.
Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross did far more than simply make a way for us to enjoy forgiveness of sin, renewed relationship with our Maker and an eternal home in heaven. Jesus defeated sin! Jesus defeated death! Jesus is making all things new! God, through the work of Himself through His Son, is working toward the eventual return of all things to ‘very good.’ All relationships previously distorted by sin can now experience the freedom that is available to us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. We no longer have to live as slaves—we can be God’s loved and forgiven children. Men and women, regardless of ethnicity or status, no longer have to live under sin-inspired hierarchies—we can know what it means to work together as equals. We no longer have to live as prisoners to sin and its outworking—we can experience true freedom in Christ. To say otherwise, is to reduce the redemption that Christ accomplished.
~ Pastor Jane
For further study - https://www.crosswalk.com/.../spi.../what-is-redemption.html
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #devotional #redemption #Genesis3 #Galatians3 #equality
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, June 22, 2021
“LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18, NLT)
There is a principle in hermeneutics (the interpretation of biblical texts) that indicates the need to understand difficult passages of Scripture in light of more straightforward ones. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding the teaching about men and women from God’s Word the opposite is sometimes employed. Take for instance the Hebrew phrase ‘ezer kenegdo’ which is translated ‘suitable helper’ in English. ‘Kenegdo’ refers to the suitability of the kind of helper that the first man requires—God brings all the other creatures to Adam, but none of them fits the bill. A suitable helper for Adam turns out to be another human, created from one of his very own ribs, to which God gives the commandment to ‘multiply.’ Together the first man and woman can fulfill the requirement, whereas on their own they cannot.
The Hebrew word ‘ezer,’ often translated ‘helper,’ is of equal or even greater significance. In English, the use of the word ‘helper’ is unfortunate as it can contain the idea of subordination. Not ‘ezer.’ This Hebrew word for ‘help,’ which appears 21 times in the Old Testament, is used most often (16 times) in reference to the type of help that God provides—strong and capable of rescue (often used in a military context). God as ‘helper’ is no assistant or subordinate to the one being helped. When God provided man with an ‘ezer,’ he was being provided with a powerful, competent individual to work alongside him in the care of the garden and to rule over the creatures of the earth, the fish of the sea and the birds of the air…together with him, not beneath or behind him.
It really is straightforward, yet this is where the hermeneutical gymnastics begin for some. They don’t want to accept anything but a God-ordained patriarchal worldview and so attempt to explain away the clear understanding of Genesis 2. Some will even go so far as to revise their translations of the Bible to suit their ideology, all the while being guilty of introducing ideas not contained in the original languages, for the sake of ‘clarity.’ When we take this approach to Scripture, however, we run the risk of reading our ideas into God’s Word rather than deriving our ideas from it. We risk introducing false doctrine and even doing injury to our understanding of the nature of God and His promised help. In the attempts to reduce the first woman to ‘Adam’s little helper,’ there is a real danger that God’s very nature will also be diminished.
For those who preach that a woman’s place is to support her husband, often unseen from the seclusion of their shared home, let me leave you with these final thoughts. When God announced that it was ‘not good’ for man to be alone and decided to provide him with a ‘suitable helper’ there were no children to attend to (not until after they have been expelled from the garden), there were no meals to cook (they ate the fruit of the trees of the garden), there were no clothes to make or mend (they were unashamedly naked), there was no house to clean (they lived in the comfort of the garden). So what did Adam need ‘help’ with? God created him as a communal being—he needed companionship; God gave him the task of tending the garden—he needed a partner to do the work with him; God gave him the rule over the other creatures—Adam needed another being, like himself, competent, capable and equal to the task of ruling. And after God presents Adam with His specially designed ‘helper,’ God commands them to fill the earth with others like themselves, made in the image of God, who will continue to work together as ‘suitable helpers’ for the tasks that God had prepared for them to do.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #Genesis2 #devotional #suitablehelper #ezer #ezerkenegdo
For further study: https://margmowczko.com/a-suitable-helper/
Daily Devotional – Monday, June 21, 2021
“Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!” Then they became insistent. ‘But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!’” (Luke 23:4-5, NLT)
I have been reminded once more just how unteachable we can be—so entrenched in what we think we know, that we simply discard ‘new information.’ It is good to be unwavering in our loyalty to God, but refusing to hear a new perspective may in fact leave us holding onto an understanding of God’s Word that is only partial or is even false. Isn’t that the attitude that caused the Pharisees and teachers of the Law to deny the truth, even while it was being spoken through the mouth of God in human form? They didn’t like what Jesus had to say because it did not agree with their interpretations. They accused Jesus of causing riots by his teaching, but it was a false accusation. It was not Jesus’ teaching that was at fault, but rather the religious teachers’ refusal to admit they were wrong. Yes, it caused upset, but needlessly. If they had been teachable, and truly seeking to know the heart of God, not simply wanting to shore up support for their own belief system, these same religious leaders would have been willing to at least listen to God’s Word explained from a different perspective.
As a woman minister, I have seen this very same behaviour on far too many occasions. I am convinced that for many years, the Church has allowed an impartial and sometimes false understanding of what God teaches us in His Word to sideline half of God’s workforce from fully participating in His Kingdom work. How? By keeping women ‘in their place.’ Like many Christians during the past number of decades, I grew up being taught that I could not be a pastor; if I got married, I would necessarily hand over all decision-making to my husband; I would be required to submit myself to the role of ‘helper’ aka ‘assistant.’ Imagine my surprise when I began to sense God’s call on my life to work in a church, to teach both men and women and to become a licensed minister…and now recently, ordained. God hadn’t just given me leadership abilities, a pastoral heart, the ability to teach and a keen desire for justice, just to play a supportive role for my husband or to limit my work to children and women.
But some will not hear it. When I tell them that I know God has called me to be the pastor of a church, they will respond that I heard wrong. When I tell them that my husband and I enjoy a relationship of oneness, equal in every respect under Christ, who is our Head, they will tell me I am not fulfilling God’s mandate on my life as a woman. When I demonstrate from Scripture why my understanding of these things has been changed—going back to the original languages and culture that the Bible was written in—they will tell me that I am misusing Scripture and I have been negatively impacted by the culture of our day.
Over this week, my devotionals will continue to focus specifically on this topic, from the perspective of the Creation, our redemption and Christ’s call. If you are one who has been raised with an opposing ideology, then I would encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to give you ears to hear from Him. No one, no matter what you understand the Bible to say on any topic, is ever wise to plug their ears. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law did—and smugly watched the Son of God die on a cross. Let’s not be the kind of religious people who insist we understand all there is to know about God and His Word, shutting off the possibility of hearing anything new from the Holy Spirit. Never waiver in your loyalty to God, but be ready to question your finite understanding.
#collingwoodchurch #hopechapel #devotional #Luke23 #womeninministry #womensplace
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, June 20, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Accept Help – Rejecting Unrealistic Expectations”
Text – Exodus 18, Psalm 34, Genesis 2:15-24
Call to Worship – Psalm 103 – “Let All That Is in Me Praise God!”
Commemorating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be problematic for many. How many talks have we all heard glorifying motherhood? Yet when it comes to dads, the talks often focus on the failures of earthly fathers and their need to better reflect the qualities of our heavenly Father. I must confess that I am not really a fan of either day. Aside from providing an additional excuse to the retail world to slather on consumer-guilt, both celebrations produce almost as many feelings of guilt and regret over unrealized expectations, as honour of parents.
Today, rather than focusing on ‘fathers’ specifically, I want for us to examine this whole underlying concept of unrealistic expectations and how we set ourselves and others up for failure when we try to use a measuring stick God never intended for us to live by. When we attempt to live by a standard not set by God for His creation, we end up living with guilt and feelings of failure or of disappointment.
When I use the phrase ‘man’s man’ what mental image do you get? How about ‘womanly femininity?’ Let me be blunt…most of the ‘images’ we conjure in our imaginations are based on cultural stereotypes. According to many of our stereotypes, a drag queen like Rupaul is far more ‘feminine’ than I will ever be. And the beards sported by the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty prove they are more manly than the majority of men. To which I respond, “Garbage!”
It is my opinion that all men are masculine because they were born male—no matter their particular interests, skills, temperament or facial hair. Likewise, women are all feminine because they were born female—no matter their particular interests, skills, temperament or facial hair. Admit it ladies, we’re all hairier than the world tells us we should be…
Men can love babies and be fully masculine…women can prefer a career and still be fully feminine. Some men can excel in cooking and cleaning abilities and some women have greater skills when it comes to managing money and home repairs. Some men are fearful of snakes and spiders and some women keep these creatures as pets. Each are fully male or female with unique gifts, abilities and interests as designed by God, no matter what the world’s stereotypes say. In fact, here’s a thought. As the human race, if we could eliminate ‘gender stereotypes’ and embrace people as made by God, would the current move to change ‘gender’ even exist? Certainly not to the degree that it does today, I think.
Resisting stereotypes and unrealistic expectations is, however, challenging. Even Moses found himself struggling to be superhuman. It took his father-in-law to point out Moses’ own harmful expectations as the leader of the Israelites in the wilderness.
WE ALL NEED HELP SOMETIMES
Exodus 18:1-19a – “Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the Lord had rescued them from Egypt.
2 Earlier, Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back to Jethro, who had taken them in. 3 (Moses’ first son was named Gershom, for Moses had said when the boy was born, ‘I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.’ 4 His second son was named Eliezer, for Moses had said, ‘The God of my ancestors was my helper; he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.’) 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, now came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought Moses’ wife and two sons with him, and they arrived while Moses and the people were camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, ‘I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.’
7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. 9 Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians.
10 ‘Praise the Lord,’ Jethro said, ‘for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! 11 I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.’ 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence.
13 The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?’
15 Moses replied, ‘Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. 16 When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.’
17 ‘This is not good!’ Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 ‘You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you.’”
Moses’ father-in-law was on a mission. He had determined that it was time for Moses’ wife and sons to be returned to their husband and father’s care. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Moses had sent them back to Zipporah’s family. Had he feared for their lives while he contended with Pharaoh over the freedom of the slaves? Had Zipporah demanded to be allowed to return to her father with the boys? Scripture doesn’t tell us, only that once the Israelites were safe from the Egyptians, Jethro decided to bring them back together. I think that Jethro recognized that Moses needed to be with his family and, now that the immediate danger has passed, brings them back.
Jethro is very pleased to hear all that God has done on behalf of the Israelites and makes a sacrificial offering before settling down for the night. The next day, he observes Moses at work. The man is working himself ragged…and for what? By trying to do everything himself, Moses is not only wearing himself out, but the people are growing restless having to wait long periods with no resolution to their disputes…which given their temperament was probably frequent.
There is discrepancy concerning the actual number of Israelites that Moses led, but even if the group was no bigger than the population of a large town like Collingwood, with just slightly fewer than 24,000, imagine having to funnel everything through a single person. Not good!
Moses justifies himself, but rather than receiving Jethro’s support for all that he is doing, Jethro warns him that he needs to share the load. Yes, he’s the leader of the people, but this should not come with the expectation that Moses needs to function as the judge for every dispute, for all the people, all the time. Yes, God called Moses to the task, but that didn’t mean he needed to go it alone.
Jethro knew that it was best if Moses had his family to support him and brought his wife and two boys back to Moses. He also knew, after observing him over the course of a day, that he needed much more help to lead the people. Moses’ expectation that he should do it all by himself wasn’t even close to realistic, but he needed Jethro to point it out.
Moses was trying to do it all himself, but that’s a dead end…for both Moses and each one of us. This morning, I want to leave Moses having just received some wise council from his father-in-law, and consider a psalm written by David.
CONFIDENCE IN GOD ALONE
Psalm 34 - “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. 2 I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. 3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. 4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. 7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. 10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. 12 Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? 13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! 14 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. 16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. 17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. 20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! 21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. 22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
At first glance, David appears to be a stereotypical ‘man’s man’…but, under a more in-depth look into his character, not really. He took on giants, yet was gifted in playing the harp. He was a military man, unafraid to shed blood, who refused to take matters into his own hands when he had the chance to kill the man who wanted him dead. He could be a hot-tempered man, but was willing to take a woman’s advice, Abigail, and changed his mind. He was a man tempted by lust, who willingly bared his soul and repented of his wrong doing when confronted. He killed lions and bears with nothing but a sling, stones and a shepherd’s staff, yet he was gentle and patient as a shepherd. He was a king, yet was also a humble servant.
In many of David’s psalms—songs and poetry—he shamelessly confesses his fears, his weakness, his need. He makes it clear that his confidence isn’t in his military might, his fearlessness, his past conquests, or even in his mighty men…it was in God. David knew that he couldn’t take credit for his successes. He repeatedly rejected the expectations of others and placed his faith and loyalty firmly on God; he wanted what God wanted and to be the person God had created him to be.
David wasn’t perfect; he made some pretty grievous mistakes. Yet, God declared him a ‘man after God’s own heart’…why? He was submissive; he loved God; he wasn’t afraid to make himself a spectacle before God (joining the people dancing before God, much to his wife’s disapproval); he trusted God; he admitted his mistakes; he was concerned for God’s name and reputation over that of his own.
What would happen if we were as concerned as David about our relationship with God rather than attempting to live up to other’s expectations, even expectations that come from within the Church? As Christ-followers, we must be careful that in our attempts to understand the Bible we do not place unreasonable expectations on people. And, as it is Father’s Day, I think we would do well to examine what I consider to be unrealistic expectations that we have placed on fathers.
In certain segments of the Christian Church, fathers are told they are to be the head and priest of their families. Unfortunately, I believe there are better ways to understand the Greek word ‘kephale’ than to define it as the ‘head’ assuming that it means being ‘in charge’ of the whole family. And, the notion that the father is to be the ‘priest’ of his family smacks as heretical in the face of the truth presented in 1 Peter 2:9 that all believers are priests through Christ. It’s just not true!
There is good reason to reject the expectations that fathers are to be the sole bread winners, must always be strong/decisive/fearless, are responsible for the spiritual health of every member of their family, have final say in all things and are held to a level of higher accountability before God than wives and children. No wonder so many men give up feeling like failures. To understand God’s expectations, we would do well to go back to the beginning…literally.
GOD’S INTENT FOR HUMANITY
Genesis 2:15-24 - “15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.’ 18 Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’ 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. 23 ‘At last!’ the man exclaimed. ‘This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called “woman,” because she was taken from “man.”’ 24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”
During the days of Creation, there is only one time when God pronounces, “it is not good.” It is not good for the man to be alone. Why not? Because the first man, all alone, needed a suitable helper. In a previous message, we discussed the meaning of ‘helpmate’ or ‘helper’ which comes from the Hebrew word ‘ezer.’ God looked at Adam and recognized his need for companionship and to share the work load of ruling. The woman was not created to be ‘Adam’s little helper,’ but rather a helper equal to the task, just as God is described as being our ‘ezer’ numerous times in the Old Testament.
After the woman was created, God knew that the creation was complete and declared it ‘very good.’ So what happened? How have we gotten so far away from God’s original intent for humanity and adopted our own faulty expectations? Short answer…sin. After the first man and woman disobeyed, God warned them that they would no longer enjoy the relationship that had existed between them. Man, typically stronger, ruled over woman. And the woman gave up God as her first love and put man in God’s place for her affections. The rest is history.
Thankfully though, it is not the end of the story. Jesus’ work on the cross resulted in the redemption of everything that was lost. We now have the freedom to enjoy living life according to the expectations of God—not other’s and not even our own.
So how can we summarize this morning.
· As a society we have adopted unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for people—including for fathers and men in general. [As an aside: The idea that each man is to be the ‘king of his own castle’ is found in the Bible as an historical footnote in the Book of Esther, not as a God-ordained dictum; it appears only in Scripture as a record of how a group of pagan men attempted to prevent their wives from following the deposed Queen Vashti’s example of disobeying her husband (but that’s another story for another day).]
· We need to put to death the expectation that the ideal ‘man’ is made in the image of a John Wayne, 007 or the Duck Dynasty stereotype. The image of the ‘man’s man’ (or womanly femininity) restricts the image of God found in each person. We are more than just our gender!
· Trying to live up to unrealistic expectations can lead us to burn-out, much like the trajectory Moses was on; failure to do so can lead to feelings of guilt which can then cause us to stop trying all together—feeling like dejected failures or becoming hostile as we reject those same expectations
· God never intended for people to ‘do’ life on their own—whether married or single it doesn’t matter. People were created for community—part of the reason why the past year and a half of dealing with the isolation brought on by the pandemic has been so difficult for so many.
· We need to stop expecting fathers to be perfect or to live up to expectations that God never intended for any human being. We have a loving heavenly Father and we are each His children. Let’s learn to be gracious and supportive of one another, recognizing the image of God found in each one.
References, Further Study & Encouragement
“I Am Loved” – Mack Brock - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--3eNmc_t1s
Sunday, June 27, 2021- “Hearing from God: The Ten Commandments” (Exodus 19-23) – 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)
Daily Devotional–Thursday, June 17, 2021
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, NLT)
We live in a time and age where people claim to value ‘authenticity,’ but have difficulty with the whole concept. Genuine honesty is hard to come by because we are too concerned with being offensive or of being accused as such. We have lost the ability to disagree amicably. We’re too quick to draw lines in the sand. We do not value the opinions of others unless they match our own. So, while we say that we value authenticity, we actively discourage it.
When we run across people who openly speak their minds, we often want to apply one of the many labels used to identifier ‘haters.’ We accuse them of ignorance and / or of being judgmental. And yet, speaking for myself, when I ask for the opinion of another, I do not want them to tell me simply what they think I want to hear. I do not want them to make promises they have no intention of keeping. We need to make room for people to respond with an honest, ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ or we simply risk disappointment when their answer turns out to be a lie.
When Jesus taught, “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and let your ‘no’ be no,” he was telling people that they needed to speak honestly and plainly without the need for vows to demonstrate their serious intention. I prefer a person to speak their opinion plainly, even if with a certain level of tactlessness, then receive the polished response of someone who is disingenuous. I may not agree with an opinion and may even attempt to persuade another that there is another point of view, but it is only by being ‘real’ that true relationship and honest communication can happen.
We need to do more than just say we value authenticity…we need to give permission to others to actually be authentic. Only then can our conversations be healthy and our relationships unimpeded by the false notion that we have nothing in common with those who may hold different opinions from our own. Being ‘real’ has the potential of holding an enormous amount of appeal for showing the love of God to others, even with whom we do not fully see eye to eye.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #devotional #luke5 #authenticity
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, June 16, 2021
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (Luke 19:26, NLT)
Why would we pour more resources into a hole? We wouldn’t! And isn’t that one of the points Jesus is making with his story about the talents. A king goes off to a faraway land and gives three of his servants varying amounts of resources to work with. When the king returns, he asks each to give an account of how they have used what they were given. The first two present the king with more than they had received, each doubling his investment. The third presents a dirty bag, recently retrieved from a hole. He is punished for his laziness, wrong attitude and lack of loyalty. His one talent is then given to the one who has ten.
It’s interesting how often we can read Scripture and become aware of a new thing…something we haven’t noticed before. This happened for me this morning, when I read again the other servants’ response to the king’s instruction to provide the servant who has ten talents with the additional one that had been buried, “But, master, he already has ten pounds” (19:25)! To which the king doesn’t even hesitate to respond, “Of course.” Why wouldn’t he give more to the one who has proven himself capable, faithful and loyal?
We, like the servants might be tempted to complain, “That’s not fair!” Why should the one with the most be given more? Because God is in the business of growing His Kingdom. When His children prove capable and responsible, why shouldn’t He entrust them with more? We might argue that the servant who had been given the one talent hadn’t received enough to do anything with; but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t even try. Whether he had received one, two or five, the results would likely not have been any different. It’s not the actual talents that make the difference, it’s how we choose to use them. Do we put the resources God has given us to full use for the building of His Kingdom or do we neglect what He provides as we pursue our own agendas?
Want to be trusted with more resources from our heavenly Father? Be certain you are serving well with what you have been given now.
~ 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!