Daily Devotional - 31 July 2020
“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’” (Matthew 4:19)!
Metaphorically, Jesus calls each person who chooses to throw their lot in with Him to ‘fish for people.’ But too many of us are novices, easily excited by the sight of ‘fish’ swimming around our baited hook, but quickly discouraged when they don’t automatically take the bait. We want to share about Jesus, but another’s willingness to listen often requires relationship. And building trusting relationships that pave the way for us to share our good news about Jesus takes time, energy and authenticity. By nature, humanity really is an impatient lot; there are some exceptions of course, but many of us do not care to spend the time needed to get good at ‘fishing for people.’
We get distracted easily. Our circumstances often pull our attention off of the task of reaching others, by putting our focus on things that are happening around us–circumstances that often threaten to overwhelm us in one way or another. Natural disasters, loss of job and illness all work to put our focus back on ‘me.’ But it isn’t just negative circumstances that have this ability; often as not, success can blind us just as quickly to the task at hand–we become busy making money, pursuing our career, completing our degree, planning for spouse and family...serving God. Yes, even our success in ministry can cause us to become so busy that we can’t remember the last time we took out our fishing pole to talk to someone who didn’t already know Jesus.
Which brings me to another distraction–the others around us who have also been called to fish. We compare gear, compare technique, compare the size of the catch...all the while leaving our own line unattended. In the family of God there exists a great variety of gifts and talents–to one God will give a net in which to haul great numbers of fish out simultaneously; He may place another in a section of the river where only a few fish can be found. Ultimately the size of the catch you reel in is not the thing that matters, but rather that you remain diligent to do the work God has set before you. We are not to be distracted by others and thereby neglect our calling.
Another distraction is found in the water. Among the ‘fish’ swimming about, are other swimming creatures–water snakes, leeches and even, sharks. Our concern for our own personal spiritual and physical safety can leave us wary of the waters in which the fish, too, swim. Which is why ‘fishing’ for people requires more than just hip waders, but a complete set of armour which enables us to take on the dangers found in the fishing grounds (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Jesus has made it clear that if we choose to follow Him, part of our commitment is to see that others are given the same opportunity. There is a very real danger that we will become distracted and neglect the work He has called us to. Pray that God will help you see the ‘fish’ around you and begin today to build relationships that are real, authentic and caring with others–the most irresistible ‘bait.’
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 30 July 2020
“ For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
A week ago, a few of us met at the church building to do some much needed clean-up work. In the process of cleaning out the furnace room, a white growth on the floor came to my attention. It looked like a combination of snow and ice, but given that the temperature in the basement far exceeded freezing, I knew it had to be something else. After consulting with others, we determined that it must be a type of white mold growing around what was evidently a wet spot in the basement. As bleach ‘kills everything’ it was decided to hit the spot with a good dose of diluted bleach. Done! Three days later, our error in diagnosis became apparent.
When I went downstairs to check on it, I discovered that a whole new healthy case of the snow-ice-like growth had returned and was in fact larger than what had been cleared away three short days earlier. So like most people faced with an unknown dilemma, I went to a commonly used source...I googled it. Turns out it wasn’t mold at all, but rather a substance known as efflorescence. Efflorescence and white mold growth can look very similar. It occurs when moisture leaches through concrete and pulls minerals along with the water. So how do you tell efflorescence and white mold apart? Pour some water on it. If it melts away it’s efflorescence; if it doesn’t it’s mold. One of the suggested remedies was vinegar. So I proceeded to next treat it with the correct remedy. After another three days, the growth has not entirely stopped, but has been significantly decreased. What made the difference? The correct diagnosis!
Reading the news this week, I have been reminded of just how very ‘sick’ this world is and of some of the ‘remedies’ being tried to correct the problems. An Afghanistan woman beaten for having a prescription made out in her name; a Samoan chief sentenced to ten years in prison for his conviction of slavery; a state suing the federal government in the USA; Chinese and American consulates shut due to accusations of spying; Russian online interference charged by the UK and denied. I could go on. Each story identifies a problem and many corrective measures are proffered. But I can’t help but wonder if all our human effort provides little more than a bandage–a solution that will prove entirely ineffective for dealing with our global problems. Ultimately, we are experiencing the consequences of humanity’s poor choices; but the misuse of our freewill is only the presenting problem. The most accurate diagnosis for our problem is sin–our continued disobedience to the will of God. The only remedy that can result in a ‘cure’ is a belief in the work of redemption done by Jesus on the cross.
That is not to say that we don’t work to correct the presenting problems. There is still work to be done to clean away the ongoing build-up as sin leaches through every pore of what was once God’s very good Creation. However, only the correct remedy will provide any real relief. We need God to help us clean up this mess! And in case we are quick to point fingers, remember that the first mess that needs cleaning up is our own. May we not be satisfied with simply scraping away the residual effects of sin in our lives so that we ‘look’ okay...let’s submit to the work that God can do in our lives to transform us, so that we become real change makers!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 29 July 2020
“Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).
Many people who have come to faith in Jesus come to a point in their lives when they must choose. The choice faced them is not between serving God or themselves–we know we are to make God the centre of our lives, even when we don’t get it perfectly right. The choice I am talking about is far more difficult–the choice between loyalty to God or our families. Ask anyone; family expectations and our desire not to disappoint those closest to us have the ability to pull us away from God’s desires for us when they don’t align. Today, I’d like for us to consider Jesus’ moment of decision and how He made His choice between His earthly family and His heavenly Father.
When I was younger, I really didn’t appreciate Jesus’ response to His being told His mother and brothers were outside the house where He was teaching; they had come to the house and sent in a message that they wanted Him to come out so that they could talk with Him. I found His reply cold and even harsh, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” (3:33), before turning to those around Him and identifying those who obeyed God as His true family. I was most familiar with Matthew’s version of the story and I could find no reason in the retelling of the events for Jesus to respond in such a manner.
It wasn’t until my early adulthood, as I was reading Mark’s version of the same story, did the events come clear. Mark provides a detail that Matthew does not, “One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said” (3:20-21). Jesus’ mother and brothers thought he had gone crazy! They weren’t there just to talk, but to literally cart Him away–white jacket and all. Jesus’ words are not just about His association with His new family–those who obeyed the will of God–they were also a rebuke for His earthly family, who were acting in direct contradiction to God’s intended will and design. He saw right through their well-meaning concern to their blindness. Even His mother Mary had lost sight of Jesus’ earthly purpose. His was to do the will of His heavenly Father–nothing more, nothing less.
There are times in our lives when we will also be faced with a similar choice–do we bow to the pressures from our earthly families or take our stand on God’s side, even when the ones we love most do not understand or support us? Just as God can use our families to help us in our decision-making, they can also act to discourage us from following in obedience of the One to whom we owe our first loyalties. When a choice is called for, seek God’s will first and align yourself with His priorities and call. Better to disappoint our earthly families, than the One who has made you with a purpose and called you into His service.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - Tuesday, July 28, 2020
“ For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)!
There are many verses in Scripture which speak of our need to share the Good News. Those of us who have accepted the message that God has a plan to redeem this messed up world, Jesus is the key to our rescue and our future hope is placed firmly on staying in relationship with Him, are to be quick to share this Good News with others. We are not to hoard it, keeping it to ourselves; but too often that is exactly what we do. As I write these words, I acknowledge that I too am not innocent of this neglect. We go through life surrounded by people who do not have a relationship with Jesus, but we stay silent. Is it fear that silences us? Is it shame? Is it uncertainty? Perhaps if we looked at the situation from God’s heavenly perspective we could finally silence the voices of fear, shame and uncertainly rather than allowing them to mute our witness.
As I was thinking about how God might view our earthly situation, I pictured a sea filled with people struggling to stay above the water line–some cry out, but most stay silent, resigned to their fate that eventually they will simply sink and disappear below the water line. On the shoreline there are also a number of people, each with a life ring. Some of these have their ring laying on the shore beside them as they sit and watch the swimmers; some sit but with their backs turned to those who continue to struggle in the water. Some have inserted themselves inside their life ring as though afraid they could be swept back into the sea; others stand on the shore holding their ring, their confusion apparent–they don’t know what they’re supposed to do with it. There are a few however, too few really, who are casting out their life rings into the water towards the swimmers. Some swimmers simply ignore the ring, some appear put-off that this thing is in their way, but others reach out and cling to it for dear life. Those who have thrown their rings then diligently pull the clinging swimmers to shore. Once safe, these newly rescued individuals are given a ring of their own–their task is obvious; but they too must decide which group on the shore to join–the indifferent, the blind, the fearful, the confused or the casters.
God looks on and weeps, not simply for those who are floundering in the sea, but also for the neglect of the life rings on the shore. The ‘life ring’ that we as Christ’s disciples possess cost God a tremendous amount–God the Son became a man, limiting His powers, subjecting Himself to the authority of His human parents; He died, taking on the punishment we all deserved for our disobedience to God; He offers any who accept His free gift a ‘life ring’–rescue from the ‘sea’ of sin and our inevitable demise under its waters. It is then our obligation to cast our life ring to those still left in the sea. Not all will take hold, some may even resent our offer, but some will readily take hold...but can’t until it is cast to them. Paul’s words in Romans should motivate us, “ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them” (10:14)? The answer is they can’t...not unless we work diligently to spread the Good News and get busy casting our life rings into the water for people who, whether they know it or not, are drowning within sight of their Rescue.
~ Pastor Jane
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3"
Today’s Topic: “Week 4: Sin Changes Everything!”
Scripture: Genesis 3
Today, the topic of sin is on the agenda. Before we begin, how many ways has sin infected God’s good Creation? What evidence do we have that ‘sin’ is a real thing? Lots! Abuse, exploitation, selfishness, pain, decay, natural disasters, disease, viruses...sin is like a cancer that has been allowed to spread unchecked. It has impacted every aspect of life–physical, emotional, relational, spiritual!
Like the two previous chapters in Genesis, there is much detail contained in the third chapter that can be entirely overlooked if we don’t stop to digest it. Let’s read the chapter together.
Some noteworthy things to consider:
GENESIS 3:1-6 ~ THE CONVERSATION
The Serpent - There are many ideas about the serpent, some of them contradictory. It appears to be one of the created ‘wild animals’ but was craftier than most. When it spoke to Eve, we get no sense that this caused her to be alarmed. Could animals talk or was this a special empowerment for this moment? As a creature of the Garden prior to the fall, could it intentionally lie (if not, it would appear that Satan was involved in the exchange) or did it have the ability to reason but was doubtful of God’s instructions to Adam and Eve? Under the influence of Satan, did the serpent deceive her on purpose or did he have the ability to think things through and had developed a conspiracy theory of his own? What did he actually say?
https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/satan/the-devil-is-in-the-details-%E2%80%A6-or-is-he/ retrieved on Friday, July 24, 2020.)
Eve (and Adam) - Up to this point, Eve has never been lied to, never even been encouraged to entertain the idea that God might be withholding something desirable from her and Adam. She believed that ‘touching’ the fruit would cause her death, but nothing appeared to happen when she did. This only verified what the serpent had said, “You won’t die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). Nothing about the fruit itself deterred her; “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it”(3:6). She took it and ate it and...nothing happened! So she gave some to Adam “who was with her” (3:6), we can assume also looking on–a silent but equal participant in the conversation.
GENESIS 3:7-13 ~ OPENED EYES
New Knowledge...and then “their eyes were opened” (3:7). A whole new world of knowledge flooded in, but none of it good.
• The felt shame at their nakedness and made coverings (3:7)
• They felt not only the need to hide their bodies, but also themselves from God because of fear (3:10)
• Adam refuses to take responsibility for his actions and attempts to shift the blame; it was the woman’s fault, which makes it God’s fault for putting her in the garden in the first place (3:12)
• The woman blames her poor choice on being deceived by the serpent (3:13)
It is interesting to note that neither attempts to deny the fact that they ate the fruit. Though they hid their nakedness and themselves from God, they simply could not hide their guilt.
God had forbidden them to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He never intended ‘evil’ to be a part of the human experience. However, having given us freewill, He chose not to withhold the opportunity for us to choose whether or not we would attempt to gain it or remain obedient. He didn’t design us to experience or to participate in the act of causing or feeling shame and fear...along with a plethora of other negative emotions. The first man and woman’s disobedience introduced the cancer of sin to God’s Creation–all of it! God’s earlier proclamation of ‘very good’ no longer was.
GENESIS 3:14-20 ~ CURSES & CONSEQUENCES
God’s Discipline ~ Pain & Futility
What to Expect ~
Rejection of God - No longer would God be the centre of the woman’s desire and loyalty. Despite the pain she would suffer in childbirth, her strongest desire would be for her husband (3:16). However, the woman would no longer be recognized by Adam as his ‘ezer’ either.
& Power Imbalance - Adam would rule the woman, just as he ruled over the other creatures of Creation (3:16). In fact, after God reveals the consequences of having unleashed sin upon the world, Adam’s first act as ‘ruler’ is to name the woman ‘Eve’ (3:20) just as he had named the animals.
Natural Consequence ~ Decay & Death - They may not have suffered immediate death, but from that point on their bodies underwent the aging process of decay. Death meant that their physical bodies would return to ‘dust’ (3:20).
GENESIS 3:21-24 ~ A WHOLE NEW WORLD
God provided them with clothing from animal skins (3:21) - Up to this point there had been no need for clothing. Yes, they desired to cover their nakedness, but it may be that a change in the weather also required proper clothing to replace their hastily assembled fig leaves.
God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (3:23) - Their banishment was actually a kindness. Now that sin had infected the entire Creation, if they had eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life (3:22) they would have had to live forever in sin, just like the fallen angels and would have lost out on the opportunity to start afresh.
God could no longer trust His human creations (3:24) - God set guardian Cherubim at the gate with a flaming sword that flashed back and forth; He knew He could not trust humanity to leave the Tree of Life alone. Our desire to extend our earthly lives has become a pursuit of the human race from the beginning of time and the tree that offered eternal life would have proven irresistible to sin infected humanity.
Over time much has changed, to the point that the reason for God’s declaration on His Creation as “very good” is sometimes not apparent.
Because of sin’s introduction into God’s perfect Creation, we are left with a mess–one of our own making!
Daily Devotional - 24 July 2020
“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)!
Many people deny the existence of God. Even more refuse to believe that Jesus was the Messiah–the one sent to rescue us. They taunt and even persecute those who profess a faith in Jesus as Saviour. A belief in heaven, forgiveness of sins or any set standard of ‘truth’ is for them entirely nonsensical. If asked, ‘What would it take to change your mind?’ many would undoubtedly answer, ‘Proof.’ But the truth of the matter is that when someone is determined to believe a particular thing, there often is no level of irrefutable proof that will suffice to change his/her mind.
I was reminded of this fact today, as I read Matthew 28. The latter half of the chapter is well-known–Jesus commissions the disciples to continue the work of the Kingdom He has begun, just before ascending to heaven with the angelic promise that He will come again in the same way. The first half is a little less known with some of the details not receiving much attention even at Easter. Jesus comes back to life! But before anyone sees Him, a great earthquake happens as an angel–whose appearance is like lightning–rolls the stone away from the front of the tomb and sits on the boulder, prepared to explain the reason for the missing body. “He’s not here! He has risen, just as He said He would.” There are two groups of witnesses to this event. We most often follow the story of the women that head off to tell the disciples this wonderful news. But they aren’t the only ones present.
Roman guards had been put in place to make certain no one tried to perpetuate the lie that Jesus would come back to life. The Pharisees had heard His pronouncement–that Jesus would be raised from the dead–and wanted to insure that none of the disciples were allowed to perpetrate any further mischief. These same guards saw the angel, saw him remove the boulder, saw the empty tomb...and had become absolutely petrified by what they witnessed. Understandably, they ran off to tell the chief priests. It was in their best interest to report these events; if they were accused of sleeping on the job, their very lives were at stake.
As first hand witnesses, still shaking with fear, the guards would have no doubt presented a believable account, albeit amazing–they obviously believed the story they told. How do the chief priests respond? Here before them is irrefutable proof that Jesus has done exactly as He predicted...He has risen from the dead...an angel of heaven has provided the evidence...He must be the Messiah. Nope! Not these guys.
Their first decision is to consult with the elders and devise a plan...a plan to quash the proof they’ve just been given. They gave the guards a ‘large’ bride to spread the story that the disciples had come in the middle of the night and stolen the body while they slept. The bribe must have been fantastic to convince them...to prevent them from sharing the amazing details of what they had witnessed and to risk punishment for ‘sleeping.’ And of course this false version of events spread simultaneously with the women’s true account of what occurred at the tomb, thus providing a narrative for those who believed and those who didn’t to shore up their opposing beliefs about who Jesus was.
What will it take to convince the unbelieving? Not proof! Those who refuse to believe the truth often dig deeper trenches of denial when faced with it. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day–the ones who had worked so hard to eliminate Him–remained adamant in their unbelief, preferring rather to perpetrate a lie than to admit that they had been wrong...that much of their belief about the Messiah had been off base...that they themselves had been guilty of killing the long awaited Rescuer.
Our faith in God must come through belief and not proofs. It is only as we submit our pride, admit our error and relinquish our need for proof–which will never suffice in the face of our rejection of it–that we will truly experience God. It is good to remember what Jesus said; “Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4). We need to stop demanding proof–which will never suffice for the one who refuses to believe; instead we need to recognize that we may in fact be wrong and open ourselves to hearing a different version of events. He is Lord!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 22 July 2020
“I know this: I was blind, and now I can see” (John 9:25b)!
One of my favourite Jesus stories comes from John 9, where we read how Jesus healed a blind man. Given that Jesus would later demonstrate that He was capable of raising the dead, healing a man born blind may not have seemed like such a big deal. However, the reason this is one of my favourite stories is not because of Jesus’ healing power–though that is truly incredible–it is the healed man’s response. This man has had to live his entire life up to this point in the dark. He is forced to beg to survive and to be subjected to mistreatment. Jesus and His disciples take notice of the man and he once again hears the familiar question, one that has been plaguing him for years, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins” (9:1).
It was the common supposition of the day, that if an individual was suffering, it was a direct result for sin in his/her life. Naturally, a person born blind–possibly with no eyes at all in this case, for even the disciples could tell this unknown beggar had been ‘born blind’–must have an immense amount of guilt to have to suffer in this way. Jesus’ answer confused the disciples, but lit a spark of hope in the blind man. He may have been blind, but he wasn’t deaf. He had heard about Jesus the miracle worker and here He was stating that his blindness was not as a result of sin, but “this happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (9:3b).
What would Jesus do? The text doesn’t tell us that Jesus asked if he wanted to see; it doesn’t say that the man asked to be healed. It just says that Jesus made a paste using his spit and the dirt, rubbed it over the man’s eye area, then told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which means ‘sent.’ The man obeys. There is no hint of hesitation. He goes to the pool a blind man and comes back seeing. And while everyone argues about whether or not he is the same beggar as the blind man they have known, he scans the crowd for the One who has given him sight. He gives testimony and full credit to Jesus for his new condition. He has never laid eyes on the Healer, but he has inexplicably experienced His touch!
He is then taken to the Pharisees. It becomes quite clear that their interest isn’t in the miracle, but the fact that it took place on the Sabbath. Work is not allowed on the Sabbath...not even healing...therefore the one who did the ‘work’ must be a sinner. Jesus, the one the man claims is responsible for his healing, cannot have acted in the power of Holy God for he is in direct disobedience to their understanding of the Old Testament law, “the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:10a).
It is the next part of the story which makes it one of my favourites. This man, born blind, is far less ‘blind’ than those questioning him. He may not have ‘seen’ Jesus, but he has experienced His touch and is ready to obey Him and recognize Him as being from God. In their spiritual blindness, the Pharisees are left groping in the theological dark. This miracle didn’t happen according to their terms and so they reject it...but still cannot deny it! But they remain adamant in their refusal to acknowledge that Jesus may have been acting in accordance to God’s Will. The newly sighted man doesn’t have any of these difficulties. He states with full confidence (and a degree of sauciness), ““Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it” (John 9:30-33).
As a reward for his faith, the Pharisees accuse him of being a total sinner, unfit to instruct them, and turf him out of the synagogue. John tells us that after Jesus heard what had happened to the man, He went out of His way to find him. Jesus introduces Himself. The man born blind now has a face to put with the name. His response is immediate; he bows down in worship. The man believed, not because he had seen Jesus for himself, but because of the work that Jesus had done in his life. His is a faith that should speak to all of us. We shouldn’t need irrefutable proofs–seeing Jesus in the flesh–to believe in Him. As His followers, we experience His work in our lives–beginning with the greatest work of receiving forgiveness and His gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives! That should be proof enough...it was for a man born blind.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 21 July 2020
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together” (Matthew 25:21)!
This morning, I’ve been thinking about ‘talents’...specifically the ones Jesus referred to in His story when He was explaining the Kingdom of God and our need to be ready for His return (Matthew 25:14-30). For those unfamiliar with the story, a rich man decides to take a long trip and doesn’t stipulate when he plans to return. In the meantime, he hands over some of his wealth to employees and asks them to work on his behalf with the money he is giving them. He gives one employee five bags of silver, to another two and to a third one bag of silver. He then departs with the full expectation that these employees will work to increase his holdings.
The one who was given five bags quickly goes to work and through shrewd investments increases the five to ten bags of silver. The employee who has only two bags of silver, too, sets to work and doubles the silver he was given from two to four bags. The third employee doesn’t even try; he digs a hole in the ground and drops the bag in, burying it until his employer’s return.
When the rich man returns, he has each of the employees come to give an accounting of how they have used his silver. The first explains that he has doubled his employers investment from five to ten bags. His employer is overjoyed and promises him a promotion and then invites him to a party to celebrate. The exact same thing happens when the employee who was given two bags presents his employer with four. He too is given a promotion and invited to the celebration.
However, it is quite another story for the employee who comes to his employer holding a dirt covered, holey bag of silver. It is quickly apparent that this employee didn’t even try–was it fear as he claimed, “I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth” (25:25)? I don’t think so. The employer sees right through him; he accuses him of being lazy and wicked. He’s only been concerned with his own interests, rather than those of his employer; he thought to collect a paycheque for doing no work. The employee had accused the employer of being harsh and reaping the rewards from other people’s hard work; yet, he himself, wanted the benefits of an employee without working for it. As a result he is deemed ‘useless’ and terminated. The single bag of silver given to the one with ten for future investing.
As I was reflecting on this story, I got thinking about how horrible it would be to be the one standing in the accounting room holding the filthy rotten bag. Too late to make things better, my lack of effort in full view of everyone. While the employer had been away, the employee could ‘fake’ making efforts on his behalf; but now in the accounting rooms, his guilt becomes apparent and there is no hiding from the truth. He had a job to do, he had the resources to do it, but rather than work on the behalf of his employer, he thought to take advantage of his absence.
Reading further in Matthew (25:31-46), Jesus explains how the story relates to the Kingdom. He warns them that after an absence, he too will return and there will be a great accounting of all people. Those who have been faithful–the sheep–will be placed on His right and will hear their reward, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (25:34). Those who have not worked to increase the Kingdom of God during their time on earth, will be set on Jesus’ left–the goats–and will hear their judgement, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (25:41). What determines who ends up on Jesus’ right and left sides? Our use of the ‘bags of silver’–the talents, gifts, provisions, resources–used in order to increase His Kingdom to bless others with a meal for the hungry, a cup of needed water, a place to stay, clothes to wear or even a visit to the sick and in prison (25:42-43).
God isn’t interested in having your merely calling yourself a Christian without living the life of a disciple–attempting to collect a paycheque without any effort. He has given us the tools we need to bless others in order to ‘increase His holdings.’ Those who attempt to ‘fake it’ will be sorely disappointed; those who serve faithfully and are loyal to the work Jesus has called us to do, will never be!
~ Pastor Jane
Mental Health Monday - Monday, July 20, 2020
“You are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for you to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Too many people struggle with self-worth issues because they count on the wrong things to bring their life meaning. We often introduce ‘successful’ people by including their name and occupation, as though the work that they do is what makes them important: “I’d like to introduce you to ‘Jane Doe.’ She is a doctor / lawyer / teacher / CEO”; rarely will you hear an introduction like, “I’d like to introduce you to ‘John Smith.’ He’s a cashier / dishwasher / store clerk / unemployed. Or if it’s not their job, we are often quick to share someone’s accomplishments or connections as though that automatically validates why we should be interested in their story–wars fought, membership in a sports teams, medals won, academic achievement, family connections, wealth, and on and on we go. But none of those truly provide an individual with lasting self-worth.
When illness or accidents cause people to become unable to work, are they suddenly less important? Is a senior’s worth only in what they were able to accomplish in their younger years. Does a child’s intrinsic value lay in their potential only. No! Our value lies in the fact that God created us...in His image...for relationship...and even when we messed up, chose to pay the penalty to be able to restore us. Do you doubt this truth? Let me share a number of quotes from the Bible that tell us of our value in God’s eyes:
(Retrieved on 07/20/20 from https://www.amazingfacts.org/…/10-bible-verses-that-show-yo… .)
This world sometimes leaves us feeling kicked, empty, and wondering if it’s all worth it—or if we are worth it. But God leaves no doubt of the tremendous value He places on every human life, including yours. Read His promises ...
These are not only wonderful promises for those of us who believe in Jesus , but these truths also provide hope for anyone who does not know God. You can...know God...be changed...live a life of true freedom...live with purpose...know how loved you are!
~ Pastor Jane
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3"
Today’s Topic: “Week 3: G O D Made Humanity”
Scripture: Genesis 1:26-2:25, 3:20
On the sixth day of Creation, God created the first humans--a man and a woman. What can we learn about our early beginnings from the Creation narrative? Does our modern day understanding line up with the Scriptural account? We will attempt to answer these and other questions as we focus on God's most special creation--the human race.
Today we are going to focus primarily on the second chapter of Genesis and the details surrounding God’s creation of humanity in particular.
1) Revisiting two creation account theory (2:4-5,7; 2:21-23, 3:20) - As was mentioned last week, some people believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 represent two separate Creation accounts. However, a reading of Chapter 2 makes it clear in my estimation, that the events it describes are also the beginning of humankind, not simply Adam and Eve created apart from others who already existed. In verse five, the writer explains that no plants were growing because there were no people to tend to it. If someone believes that Genesis 1 represents an earlier creation of other people, where are they? Then we find in Genesis 3:20 that Adam names the woman, Eve, for she will be “the mother of all who live.”
Many people who have difficulty with the idea of God creating Adam and Eve only–who would populate the entire earth–ask the question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” The logical answer is that she was one of his sisters; whether they were together prior to his murder of Abel or subsequently, following his being punished and marked by God, we don’t know. We do know, however, that after he was banished, “Cain had sexual relations with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Then Cain founded a city, which he named Enoch, after his son” (Genesis 4:17). The Bible doesn’t support the idea that people outside of the family of Adam and Eve existed.
2) Made in God’s image (1:26-27) - Our physical bodies are not in the ‘image’ of God; God is Spirit. So how are we, male and female, created in God’s image? There are a number of ideas espoused by biblical scholars and all may hold a part in the answer to the question.
Because we are all made in the image of God, “as Christians waiting patiently for the day [of Christ’s return], we [should] endeavour to treat people made in God’s image with dignity and respect irrespective of gender, race, age, nationality or economic status because we remember our King’s words that as we did for ‘the least of these my brothers, you did also to me’ (Matt. 25:40).” (Retrieved on 07/17/20 from
https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/what-does-it-mean-to-be-made-in-gods-image/.) Jesus states that your treatment of others has a direct connection with your treatment of Him.
3) ‘Oneness’ of Male and Female (2:24) - This may be merely a reference to the marriage relationship, but I believe there is a greater context of ‘oneness’ within which God views all of humanity. When God created Adam, he was alone, but within him was contained all the physical & genetic matter required to create the woman. So when God took a rib from the man’s side, created this new being and brought the woman to Adam, he declares, “‘At last! This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man’” (Genesis 2:22-23). This is not a simple recognition by the man that she was the same species as him, but rather she was part of him. For further reading refer to
Not only that, but the whole of humanity is derived from the body of Adam; we all share his genetic material; we are one human race; one people. Those who choose Christ’s redemptive work on the cross become one people, too–the singular bride of Christ–through our spiritual rebirth in Christ. Might it be that our ‘oneness’ is as much a mystery as the Oneness of God in the Trinity? Part of being made in the image of God? In any case, it should cause us to look past what we consider great differences in the human race and see our sameness as all having come from Adam.
4) Meaning of the Hebrew word ‘ezer’ (ay-zer) translated ‘helper’ (2:18,20) - “The noun ezer is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Twice it is used in the context of the first woman. Three times it is used of people helping (or failing to help) in life-threatening situations. Sixteen times it is used in reference to God as a helper. Without exception, these biblical texts are talking about a vital, powerful kind of help. Yet when ‘ezer’ is applied to the first woman, its meaning is usually diminished to fit with traditional and cultural views of women’s roles” (Retrieved on 07/17/2020 from
The fact that God’s provided ‘help’ to His people uses the Hebrew word ‘ezer’ should give us pause. “Our help (ezer) is in the Name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). Can we not rightly be accused of diminishing the help provided by God, when we diminish the kind of help God intended the woman to provide?
While still in the garden, God saw the need for Adam to have an ‘ezer’, but for what? We have often been told that the woman’s help was as a subordinate and followed along the lines of traditional gender roles. There are some who see woman’s role as supporting her family by providing support from home–cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. When God created a helper for Adam she didn’t do any of those things–they had takeout every night, we may assume slept under the stars with no house cleaning required and walked around without a stitch of clothing to take care of. Yet Adam needed a helper. What was his job? To have rule, take care of and create. So God provided him a woman to help in the work of ruling, caring, creating and also to enjoy relationship with, a being who was the same as him. Now, things did change in Genesis three, but that’s a discussion for next week...
5) They felt no shame (2:25) - Initially the man and woman lived without the effects of sin in their lives and were completely innocent of the knowledge of good and evil. They felt no shame–they had nothing to be ashamed of. They felt no fear–they had nothing to be afraid of. They knew no discord–they had nothing to argue about. When God created the first humans, they knew nothing of the ‘knowledge of evil’ and God knew that it was best that way. He gave them a simple rule, which provided them with the option to exercise their freewill; that rule made it possible for them to choose to stay in right relationship with God or reject Him and live life on their own terms. Unfortunately, we know what their freewill lead them to. We will tackle the topic of where their choice has lead the entire human race over the course of our shared history to the present day, next week.
So how are we to understand God’s creation of humanity?
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!