Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
Daily Devotional – Monday, October 25, 2021
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NLT)
I have been thinking about the fact recently, that there are an awful lot of people who want the benefits that come from having a relationship with God, without actually having a relationship with God. We love God’s promise that He has good plans for us and that He will hear our prayers, but then we stop. One verse further, however, tells us that we are not to behave as passive recipients, being perpetually filled up by God; we have an active role to play. God’s good plans and answers to prayers are for those who have a growing relationship with Him. Unfortunately, I think there may be many people who are trading in a relationship with God for a mere knowledge of Him.
How many people claim the name of Christ because they have read some stories about God, watched movies and televised productions depicting the biblical narrative, have multiple versions of the Bible at their fingertips, and even memorabilia—cross-shaped jewelry, posters and plaques—and yet God remains a veritable stranger to them? God is not to be treated as some famous personality; we get excited when we meet our favourite movie or sport’s star, music band or visiting royalty. However, whether we talk to them briefly, get a signature, have a selfie snapped, the reality remains that while we have a great story to share, we don’t have a relationship with them.
God desires to be the Friend, Father and Master that we have with us at all times—not like a good luck charm, but a real person with whom we stay in constant communion. Need directions? He’s there. Feeling tempted? He’ll give us an ‘out.’ Lonely? You’ve no reason to be. God is the only One who will never let us down, but we’ll never understand the incredible gift of a real relationship with Him, unless we’re prepared to take the time to truly know Him, in person…not just about Him.
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, October 19, 2021
"Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NLT)
Isaiah had a message for the people of Israel—“Stop pretending!” He accused them of regularly coming to the Temple to put on a show…fasting, bowing their heads in repentance, even wearing burlap and covering themselves with ashes. But it wasn’t going to achieve anything, because their actions were not a true reflection of their character. Isaiah accuses them of taking advantage of their workers and of fighting and arguing—always trying to get the most for ‘me.’ Then Isaiah tells them the changes that need to be made if they truly want God to respond to them—help others! Engage in sacrificial generosity. Stand up for the oppressed. Right wrongs done. And the really sad thing is that, if Isaiah lived today, I have a feeling his message wouldn’t change much.
Today’s world is filled with workers being taken advantage of; homelessness; human trafficking; famine; wars for dominance; persecution…and I’m sorry to say that no part of the world is immune. People are being wrongly imprisoned; taken advantage of; facing social stigmas based solely on their age, gender, race or faith; going without food, clean water, proper clothing or a place to stay; even family members cannot always be counted on to provide a helping hand. Our world, unfortunately, doesn’t sound that much different from the world of Isaiah’s time. The real question to ask ourselves today is whether we are guilty of merely possessing a ‘show’ of faith or do we have a genuine relationship with God that motivates us to make our whole lives a continuous living sacrifice for Him on a daily basis?
Putting on a show is easy—show up to church a couple of times a month, make a donation now and again, keep a Bible somewhere handy should you have time to read it, play the part when other church people are around. It’s in the day to day grind of life, that the realness of our relationship with God is proved. And in case anyone wants to try the defense of not knowing anyone in need, I’d like to suggest you take your blinders off. People in need of our help are all around us. Choosing not to see problems, doesn’t make them go away, but it may very well indicate a need for us as Christ’s followers to stop paying so much attention to self. There is a hurting world and God requires that we actively participate in being part of the solution...not adding to the problems. What might God be calling each one of us to do?
Daily Devotional – Thursday, October 14, 2021
"[Love is not] rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NLT)
In Paul’s description of the nature of God’s love—that we are to demonstrate in all aspects of life—he includes characteristics that show up our lack of love and need for improvement in this all important ‘fruit.’
Many of us experience moments when we find ourselves being less than polite, demanding to have our way, getting upset and harbouring grudges. We like to point the finger of blame at others—"If only they would listen to reason; if only they used their common sense; if only they weren’t so overbearing; if only…” However, if we really want to get to the bottom of the source of our irritation, we ought rather to take a good long hard look in the mirror. Our irritations, demands, lack of respect and score keeping all point to deficiencies in ourselves, not others. Yes, others’ actions and attitudes can be problematic, but it’s our responses that are of most concern to God…and that we will all someday have to give an account for.
He has told His children to love their enemies, do good to all and even to pray for those who persecute us. We can not to do these things from a place of bitterness, anger or spite…only from love—God’s agape love—the kind of love we have ourselves experienced from the gracious heart of God even while we were His enemies, spoke ill of Him and made fun of His children.
We all slip in our love quotient, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t be actively working to embody a greater amount of God’s love for others in our lives. Not sure where you’re at? Pay attention to your moments of ‘irritation’…they will provide a measurable clue!
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, October 12, 2021
"When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Keep secret what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down.’” (Revelation 10:4, NLT)
Could God entrust you to keep a secret? I was struck by that incredible thought as I reread a portion of the vision that God gave to the Apostle John, while on the Island of Patmos. We often talk about being entrusted to share God’s Good News, but I can’t recall ever really thinking through the fact that God has secrets, too. John, the longest living Apostle and traditionally thought to be the only one of the twelve who died of old age—all the others having died as martyrs—finds himself imprisoned on a bare rock and God reveals the incredible scenes that unfold in the Book of Revelation.
People have struggled to understand this book as literal or metaphorical, describing events during John’s day and/or the future. I suspect it is all of the above; the fact that the vision shown to John contains portions he is not even permitted to write about appears to demonstrate that it was never God’s intent that it should be a straightforward read, easily understood, or compartmentalized. Our ability to understand John’s vision is even further removed today, as it was written in an Apocryphal style, which was a common form of writing in times gone by; unfortunately, much of its imagery and use of this writing genre are unknown to us.
Imagine being in John’s position—privileged to hear the vision in its entirety, yet entrusted by God to keep it secret. But then, as I think about it, maybe that isn’t the most incredible thing. When it comes to sharing what we know about God, too many of us have the ‘keeping it secret’ down pat. Our challenge is to share the message we’ve been given to tell others. So, whether we have been called to keep God’s secret or share His messages (something we should all be doing), it still represents a trust that God has placed in His children. May we be found worthy!
Daily Devotional – Thursday, October 7, 2021
"Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father.” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV)
At this time of Canadian Thanksgiving, I am reminded of just how critical gratitude is. Without it, we cannot experience peace, joy or even contentment. Gratitude, or the lack thereof, really does determine much of our perspective on life. With gratitude comes hope, while the absence of gratitude leaves us depressed; gratitude produces contentment, ingratitude encourages the relentless search for more; gratitude allows us to consider the needs of others above our own, whereas ingratitude tends to produce jealousy, entitlement and a ‘me-first’ attitude.
Many of us recognize the need to be grateful, but how do we go about cultivating an attitude of gratitude? By remembering, and even intentionally listing off, the things that we have to be thankful for. And might I suggest that this not be left as an annual event, but become a habitual practice each and every day. Start your day thanking God—for sleep, a warm bed, a roof over your head, coffee in the pot, breakfast, good health, a job, school, and family. End your day thanking Him for bringing you to the end of it, for safety, transportation, friends, water, comfort and all those He has brought you into contact throughout the day. Take time to also thank God for His love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, justice and care, as well as for His plans for you and for the world. Obviously, this is only a fraction of the list of items that we have to be thankful for and each of our lists will be slightly different.
If we want to enjoy all the things that gratitude infuses into our lives, then developing the habit of giving thanks is essential. Take time to thank God for specifics. When you find yourself grumbling, force yourself to switch your thinking by identifying an item or two that you are truly grateful for. Even when things are not going as we like and life gets hard, there is still so much to be grateful for if we will only take the time to remember.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, October 5, 2021
"If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery.” (Numbers 11:15, NLT)
Moses has come to the end…the end of his patience, the end of his energy, the end of his emotional reserves. He’s done. He has been expending himself for the people of Israel as God had called him to, but after doing all he can on their behalf, they still incessantly whine at him. “There is no water,” “We want to go back to Egypt,” “We miss all the free fish, leeks and onions,” and “We detest this manna.” Moses cannot escape the people’s whining; everywhere he turns someone is in his face with another complaint. Moses may have been gifted to the task, called and even had the ear of God, but he was only human and here is a moment when he lifts his hands in defeat and tells God that things have got to change—“Either change the situation or take me out of it!”
God doesn’t rebuke Moses; He knows exactly how Moses feels and what He needs. God tells Moses that He will take some of the Spirit He has given to Moses and give it to seventy other leaders among the people to share the load of leadership. No wonder Moses was exhausted—he had been trying to do the job of seventy!
As to the people’s whining, God has a different solution. He is going to provide the people with so much meat—for an entire month—they are literally going to gag on it. But in Moses’ exhausted state, in this moment when he is feeling utterly defeated, even this great leader doubts God’s ability to put an end to the people’s grumbling. God’s response comes in the form of a question, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!” (Numbers 11:23).
Haven’t we all been there? We are trying to faithfully serve God, but we keep running into barriers. It might be others’ attitudes or too much work, such as what Moses faced. Or maybe it’s a lengthy struggle with poor finances, poor health, loss of relationship. Many things can bring God’s children to the point of exhaustion as we attempt to live purposely for Him. He knows what we’re going through and what we need. In our exhaustion, we may find ourselves expressing doubt that God can or will solve a problem too big for us, but remember God’s response, “Has my arm lost its power?” Of course not! So sit back child, “Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!” Remember…God’s power is made perfect in our weakness! We may be called, but we are not in this alone.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Friday, October 1, 2021
"The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 4:17-18, NLT)
Does the above verse describe you? Pure…peace loving…gentle at all times…willing to yield…full of mercy and good deeds…shows no favouritism…always sincere…peacemaker? If not, may I humbly suggest that there is still room in your life for greater obedience to God, just as there is in my own life. We are called to live a life of obedience to God’s Words and to not do so demonstrates foolishness on our parts. Did I just accuse us all of being foolish to some degree? Yes, but only because Jesus did first.
In Jesus’ sermon on the mount He taught many things, some of which we have an incredibly difficult time obeying, but attempt to obey we must. Jesus expects us to grow in His likeness—to possess His Beatitudes; to be light and salt for God in this dark and tasteless world; to have self-control and fulfill our commitments; to love our enemies and leave vengeance to God; to give to the needy and by doing so store up treasure in heaven; to not make your faith observances a show, but remain humble and transparent before God; not to judge others as inferior, but to treat them as you want to be treated; follow God’s way and produce the fruit of good deeds. Then for the bombshell, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock…But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand” (Matthew 7:24,26). Obedience to God demonstrates wisdom…disobedience, foolishness.
Those who don’t know God or refuse to obey have bought into the idea that to have to answer to anyone else is a sign of weakness. And they’re not wrong. When we obey God, we are recognizing our own inability to control our lives and our need to accept His Sovereignty. We are weak, but that admission only makes a way for God’s power to be made perfect in us. Denying our weakness does not make us strong; it leaves us vulnerable to the evil that is so prevalent in this world and in our own natures. Giving God control and choosing to follow His lead, results in a strength of character and spirit that we could never engender on our own!
~ Pastor Jane
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional - Thursday, September 30, 2021
"I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church." (Colossians 1:24)
[Today's devotional is found in "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald J. Chambers; only the title has been changed here. https://utmost.org/the-assigning-of-the-call/]
"We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.
I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children."
Song for Reflection
"The Purpose in the Pain" Matt Hybarger
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, September 29, 2021
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)
Many of us reject the idea of needing to submit to anyone. Often, our rejection has more to do with how ‘submission’ has been taught as a God-given expectation on some and has been used to suppress and/or literally been wielded as a stick to keep some in line, while excluding others from this same expectation. However, by rejecting our need to “submit to one another,” we leave ourselves forever in need of defending our every position, refusing to listen to another point of view, choosing to die on every hill of battle rather than focusing on the greater war at hand. Our lack of submission today, I believe, is a large reason for our heightened anxiety, religious dogmatism and the constant undercurrent of anger that is so prevalent in our society at large, ready to erupt at the least provocation.
The dictionary defines ‘submit’ two ways, both of which are applicable in understanding the above verse: “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person” and “subject to a particular process, treatment, or condition.” An inability to submit is a strong indicator of misplaced pride and of unchecked selfishness. Without submission, we become deaf to the needs of others in favour of our own. We demand to have our way, to have our say, yet without reciprocating the same. When the Apostle Paul told everyone to submit to one another, he knew how challenging this would prove for many. He encouraged wives to remember Jesus as they submitted to their husbands and he encouraged husbands to remember Christ’s incredible love, which was to result in submission to their wives. Submission, when practiced by both a husband and a wife, leads to a healthy marital relationship. Submission between members of Christ’s Church also encourages the growth of healthy and equal relationships—no one is more important than another, no one has greater power than another, everyone learns to work together as equal participants in growing God’s Kingdom.
When members of His Church remember to be submissive to one another, God can and will use us to do great things together. However, should we continue to refuse and end up fighting one another for preeminence of position, methodology, ideology—needing to be right and to prove our point of view at all costs—we should not expect God to choose to use us for any good thing. We must learn to truly reflect Jesus, the One we claim to serve, and adopt His same attitude as outlined by Paul in Philippians 2; though God, He chose not to cling to His rights, but submitted Himself to God’s plan and took the low position of a servant, even dying the death of a criminal. And in response, God rewarded Him and gave Him a name and position above all others, and someday we will all submit ourselves to Jesus, our King of kings and Lord of lords—whether we have done so on this side of the grave or not!
~ Pastor Jane
Song for Reflection - “Control” Tenth Avenue North - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFfztu8-bBQ
Prayer Emphasis Week
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, September 28, 2021
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:10, NLT)
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” (1 Peter 5:6, NLT)
The need for humility is an often-overlooked truth. We have come to associate the word ‘humility’ with ‘humiliation’…and none of us wants that. Though sharing a common root word, these two are actually quite different. Humiliation is often something that you suffer at the hands of another during which your pride takes a bruising; humility on the other hand is a posture you adopt, subjecting your pride of your own freewill. So, when God tells us to ‘humble ourselves’ He is not telling us to gird ourselves for a bout of embarrassment, but rather to allow our pride to be subjected to His will. By placing ourselves in His hands—our resources, our reputation, our future, our lives—we acknowledge His right over us. Our lives are not ours to direct and plan; they are to be God’s to use for His purposes. That requires humility.
Peter and James both understood the truth about humility. God is most pleased to work in and through those who are humble—those who will not claim credit for His work; those who will not look down their nose on others; those who will not allow their pride to get in the way. And in return He has promised to “lift you up in honour.” God is pleased to work through humble individuals and He will reward their faithful service. The Bible is full of examples…Joseph, slave turned ruler…Ruth, foreigner accepted into the family…Daniel, captive turned advisor…David, shepherd become king…Samuel, boy called to be a prophet…Esther, commoner chosen as queen…to name just a few.
When we come to God in prayer, it should be with a humble attitude—not demanding or petulant—but acknowledging that God knows what is best…always! We will often not know how He will work out a thing or the time that will be required; it is humility that will keep our sinful pride in check when God chooses to answer in a way we weren’t expecting. Being humble does not come naturally, but it is an incredibly important ingredient in our relationship with God if we want to experience ‘His power made perfect in weakness!’
~ Pastor Jane
Song for Reflection - “Humble King” Brenton Brown performed by Vineyard Worship - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7Rohc92j9M
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!