Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
Daily Devotional – Monday, June 14, 2021
“And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 29:21, NLT)
In the Christian Church, we often have the notion that prophets were the religious superstars of their day. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be chosen by God to be one of His prophets was, more often than not, an entirely thankless job. The job required that the men and women God chose to speak through be willing to play the part of the fool for Him. Hosea was told to marry Gomer, even though she would be repeatedly unfaithful to him as his wife (Hosea). Isaiah was instructed to walk around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:2-4). Jeremiah bought a new linen belt that he wore for a short time, before God told him to go bury it, only to retrieve it again once fully rotten (Jeremiah 13). Ezekiel delivered messages of warning and doom to great nations for many years before God saw fit to enact the warnings.
Often, God told the prophets to do some odd and even outrageous things or to deliver messages that would not come to pass until after many years and sometimes even after the prophet’s death. When a prophet delivered a message, it was often met with curiosity at best or outright ridicule; recipients of their messages often responded with a cynically raised eyebrow of disbelief, rather than serious reflection. As those who believe in God, today, we shouldn’t expect much better. Our talk of the existence of an all-powerful God who is eternally existent makes no sense to some and is treated hostilely by others. God’s plan of forgiveness through His Son is ridiculed by many. The idea that there is a place called ‘heaven?’…nothing more than a fairy tale. The response of others can test our resolve to act the fool for God, but resolve ourselves we must.
God’s encouragement to Ezekiel serves as an encouragement for us, too, to stay true to the job God has given His children and to boldly share the message that He’s given us. Even though we may find ourselves the butt of jokes presently, there will come a day when our words will be respected. Everyone, eventually, will come to the place of “knowing that God is the Lord.” Better to risk being accused of being a fool by people, than accused of neglecting our God-given job by our heavenly Father. There’s no shame in playing the fool, when you do so for God!
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #ezekiel13 #unashamed
Daily Devotional–Thursday, June 10, 2021
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:13, NLT)
The Bible highlights the need for us to pray…often. But what should be the focus of our prayers? Our prayers aren’t to be for show, to impress others (Matthew 6:5). They aren’t to be filled with repetitive words (Matthew 6:7). They aren’t just to be for our own gratification (James 4:3). There are many things to pray for—for daily bread (Matthew 6:11), against temptation (Matthew 6:13), for other believers (Ephesians 6:18) and even for those who mistreat us (Matthew 5:44). But I couldn’t help noticing again today, from Jesus’ perspective, what the best thing we can pray for is. It is something we are to shamelessly pursue…something that the Father will not refuse us—His presence through the Holy Spirit.
God tells us through Jeremiah, that if we seek Him with all our heart, He will be found by us (Jeremiah 29:13). Matthew recorded Jesus’ teaching that we are to ‘seek first God’s Kingdom’ then the other things of earthly concern—like food, shelter and clothing—will be provided as well (Matthew 6:33). Luke expands on Jesus’ instruction regarding prayer by telling us that the ‘seek and you will find’ has to do with God’s provision of the Holy Spirit. God knows what is needed to sustain our physical beings, but He wants us to remove our focus from the temporal to the eternal, from the physical to the spiritual, from the created to the Creator.
What would happen if our prayers primarily revolved around wanting more of God—not more of what He can provide, but more of Him? I would dare say that most of our lives would be drastically changed…for the better. Do we love God well enough to want more of Him? According to Jesus, it should be the thing that we look for most. And God, for His part, will not disappoint!
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #devotional #Luke11 #collingwoodchurch #prayer #HolySpirit
Daily Devotional–Wednesday, June 9, 2021
“The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.” (Luke 8:14, NLT)
I remember the long hard hours of pulling weeds from our huge vegetable garden on the farm…at least, as a kid, it seemed huge! Planting the seeds, raking and hoeing the dirt was one thing, but the pulling of the weeds was a tedious, never ending job. We all knew, however, that if the garden didn’t have the weeds removed, it would soon turn wild, with the weeds taking over. And if that happened, you could say good-bye to all the yummy vegetables, pickles and other preserves that would result from all our hard labour of regularly tending to the weeds.
This analogy of how weeds take over a vegetable garden is no less true for the human heart. God wants to grow His fruit in us, but it requires constant attention being given to the pulling of the ‘weeds.’ Weeds of the heart are any attitudes or motivations that work against the growth of God’s love and other fruit in our lives. The Holy Spirit will cause us to grow his love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control; however, these cannot grow when we allow our lives to be overrun with the weeds of selfishness, unforgiveness, greed, anxiety, impatience and pride (to list but a few of the possible ‘weeds’).
Unfortunately, there are many ‘immature’ people who know of Christ, speak of His Lordship, but who demonstrate by the weeds in their lives, that their words are not an accurate reflection of their actual beliefs and desires. We would all do well to allow the Master Gardener to point out the weeds that threaten the growth of His goodness in our lives and actively participate in the process of internal weeding, each and everyday.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #devotional #church #collingwoodchurch #Luke8
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, June 8, 2021
“The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.” (Luke 8:13, NLT)
I remember the summer I spent at Camp Seton in Manitoba quite fondly. The camp was run by Camp Arnes for the slightly more adventurous and was located on leased crown land. We were entirely ‘off-grid’…no electricity, no running water and no contact with the outside world. We were required to wash our clothes with a scrub board, take showers using our improvised water barrel (which you had to fill by hand and light a fire underneath if you wanted your shower to be warm), sleep in chuck wagons that had been outfitted with bunkbeds and cook all your meals over a campfire. I loved it…despite the coyotes, poison ivy and soreness from all-day trail rides!
During that summer I learned many things as a camp counselor…about God, about people and about nature. For instance, while attempting to demonstrate the need for teamwork to collect wood for our cooking fire with minimal hardware, I made an interesting and very helpful discovery. In the area of the camp, we had a lot of standing deadwood poplar trees, but no axe to cut them down. Turns out you don’t need an axe. Smaller poplars are easily pushed over by hand, dragged to the desired area and then cut apart into sections using a handsaw. How is it that a tree that has grown to twenty feet in height is so easily pushed over? Minimal roots. The particular stand of poplars we had access to was dense with younger trees having grown up quickly, but whose root system remained shallow. In dry seasons, which this particular area of Manitoba experiences quite often, the trees easily die. Voila! Firewood.
When I read Jesus’ explanation of the seed that is thrown on rocky soil, grows up quickly, but ultimately dies for lack of a good root system, I can’t help but think of those poplar trees and of our own spiritual growth. During that same summer, I had a camper who came to camp intent on playing the part of the rebel. Black make-up, hair fanned out and sprayed in place in the punk style of the day and fully determined to take on anyone who gave her even a sideways look. She was fully prepared for a fight, but she was totally unarmed against the love that she experienced. Over the course of the week, I saw her let down her guard and in a vulnerable moment she shared how her brother, whom she had been very close to, had committed suicide. In our devotional times I was able to share about God and I could see her becoming open to His truth. I wish she could have stayed longer, given the Holy Spirit more time to work on her heart, because of what happened on the day that parents arrived to pick up their children.
The black make-up and punk style had disappeared after the first day of camp; she had found acceptance even when attempting to push others away and hadn’t felt the need to put on the rebellious front. That all changed the morning she was to go home. In preparation for seeing her mother, she put her shell back on. She had experienced acceptance and God’s love at the camp and had allowed His Holy Spirit to soften her heart, but her ‘spiritual roots’ hadn’t had enough time to grow deep. We had gotten to see another side of her, but as soon as our time was up, she went right back into her old world—her heart hardened against the seed of truth that had begun to grow. The temptation to revert proved to be too enticing. The hurt of her heart still too raw.
God’s love is available to all; He wants a relationship with each one of us. But my experience reminds me, that while we can receive this truth gladly, if we do not allow that love to fill us and cause us to grow deep roots, we may find ourselves unanchored in the face of the hurts of life, unable to resist the temptation to let go of the love we have experienced. A shallow understanding of God’s love may leave us susceptible to being pushed over, because we’ve not learned to allow it to sustain us during difficult times. We all need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts, growing ever more deeply in our confidence of and obedience to our loving, heavenly Father.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #devotional #growdeep #Luke8 #collingwoodchurch
Daily Devotional – Monday, June 7, 2021
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 7:47, NLT)
How do you relate to Jesus? Luke recounts a story in his gospel of an invitation Jesus received to dinner. His host was a Pharisee, who in all likelihood viewed Jesus as a curiosity. Jesus was accumulating quite an audience, had performed many miracles and was gaining a name and reputation for himself; yes, he was a controversial figure, but he was also popular. Time to have this growing celebrity over for dinner and see if there is anything to His growing fame. A local woman, who also had a reputation, but of another sort, is drawn to join this dinner party. But she doesn’t come out of curiosity, she comes with the express intent of demonstrating her devotion. The Pharisee’s and the woman’s response to Jesus provide a stark contrast.
The Pharisee, who probably viewed himself as an equal or better than this new hot-shot preacher, makes no attempts to treat Jesus as an honoured guest. There’s no water to wash his feet, no traditional kiss of welcome, no special treatment whatsoever by the host to his guest. On the other hand, this ‘sinful’ woman comes prepared to lavish her devotion on Him as she weeps for her sins, wipes her tears from His feet with her hair, repeatedly kisses His feet and anoints them with expensive perfume. The Pharisee had invited Jesus for dinner, expecting Jesus to convince him that there was something to all the fuss being made about this Nazarene. The woman had come convinced already of who He was.
What of you and me? Who do we most resemble in our relationship with Jesus? The Pharisee or the woman? Have we merely invited Jesus to dinner, neglecting our role as host, sitting back in expectation that He should somehow wow us and convince us of His Lordship? Or like the woman, do we approach Jesus already acknowledging His Lordship and recognizing our own unworthiness of being a part of His Kingdom? Are we simply curious wanting Jesus to ‘show up’ or are we convinced, content to be in His presence? Do we respond with contempt when He gives us glimpses into His Kingdom or with tear-filled gratitude?
Only one of the two left that dinner filled with the love of God…and it wasn’t the Pharisee!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Thursday, June 3, 2021
“God says, ‘I know what you are saying, for I know every thought that comes into your minds.’” (Ezekiel 11:5b, NLT)
The idea that anything can be hidden from our ever-present, all-knowing, all-seeing God is one of the most ludicrous notions ever imagined. Whether good or bad, nothing escapes the eye of God. Even though He may not respond immediately, never doubt that good done for Him will be rewarded and disobedience will be punished. It should be an obvious fact, but how often do we accuse God of abandoning us? Of not caring? Of being blind to our situation? But the truth of the matter is that He is still present and attentive even at times when He chooses to respond with silence.
The prophet Ezekiel was provided a rare glimpse into the ‘secret’ activities that were taking place back in Jerusalem. He himself was a captive in Babylon, but in Ezekiel 8-11, we read how God’s Spirit transports Ezekiel in a vision back to Jerusalem and shows him some of the ‘hidden’ things that were happening. Within the Temple, an idol had been set-up near God’s altar; Ezekiel is given entrance into a closed room where seventy leaders are in the process of worshipping many false gods; he sees women weeping for the god Tammuz; and within the Temple courtyard, twenty-five men are bowing and worshipping the sun! They think that God has abandoned them and therefore is blind to this idolatry. But He has seen it all and shows it to His prophet Ezekiel. God tells Ezekiel that He has every intention of rewarding those who have remained faithful and of punishing those who have rejected Him.
Sometimes, rather than accuse God of abandoning us, we wonder if there is any purpose for the good that we do in the face of so much chaos in our world today. Can our small contributions of obedience—being merciful, showing kindness, being generous—make any sort of significant impact for God and His Kingdom? In Jesus’ sermon (Matthew 5-7), He encourages the crowd not to make public displays of their prayers, fasting and acts of generosity. God Himself will see and reward each act of faithfulness done away from the public eye. Even when our acts of obedience go unseen by those around us, God has promised to reward us. Nothing escapes His notice. Nothing done for Him is ‘small’ in His eyes. When He promises to reward or punish, we can be assured that it will be so, for nothing is missed under His ever-watchful care.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional–Wednesday, June 2,2021
“If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.” (Ezekiel 3:20-21, NLT)
At the age of thirty, God called Ezekiel to be a prophet. He was to provide God’s warnings to the people. I wonder if Ezekiel was a little hesitant. It might explain God’s direct warning to Ezekiel himself, “If you do not warn them…I will hold you responsible for their deaths.” God actually says this same thing twice. It applied equally to the messages Ezekiel was to share with both the wicked and the righteous. Ezekiel is not being held to account for people’s responses to his messages, but he will have to give an account for not having done his part to provide the timely warnings given to him by God.
We may not take seriously Jesus’ command for His followers to disciple, baptize and teach others, to love our enemies, to pray for those who curse us, and to share God’s News of His available restoration with the world…but God does. Is our responsibility really any different from Ezekiel’s? Aren’t we still called to provide people with God’s warning? No, we can’t make anyone accept the truth, but that’s not our job. Ours is to share the truth that we know. We may not be called to be prophets in the strictest sense of the word, but we are all to be Ambassadors of God’s heavenly kingdom. Heaven forbid that our resistance to sharing our faith in God would result in the eternal death of someone simply because we refused to share.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, June 1, 2021
“Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.” (Ezekiel 3:10, NLT)
Ezekiel was amongst the first group of Judean captives to be taken to Babylon. At the age of thirty, while a captive far from home, God called Ezekiel to speak for Him to the Israelites. He gave him fantastical visions of four-faced and four winged creatures atop wheels that moved at the spirit’s direction; these always faced forward without turning around no matter what direction they were moving at lightning speed. Ezekiel was given tasks to do that made little sense: for instance, he was to build a replica of Jerusalem then lie on his side for an accumulated 430 days—first on his left for 390 days then on his right 40 days. He was given a message from God to share, which God told him ahead of time would be rejected and that he would be hated for.
Ezekiel is not an easy book for modern readers to understand. The events having taken place approximately 2,600 years ago, written in a style that, while popular in its day, leave us somewhat baffled. But something new stood out to me today. Buried amidst the visions, tasks and warnings is God’s instruction for Ezekiel—“Before you share my message with others, take my instruction to heart.” In our world of quick condemnation, judgments and shaming, it is an instruction we should all be taking to heart. Ezekiel was called to share God’s judgment, but was not to do so from a position of superiority. The teacher needed to recognize that he too was a student. The prophecies God was going to give him were as much for him, the prophet, as they were for the rebellious recipients. Before Ezekiel could share God’s warning, he was to first apply it to his own life.
What would happen if we would all do that? If before reacting to others and spouting off our good advice, God’s commandments and biblical correctives, we stopped and considered our own lives alongside the advice and judgment we can be so quick to share. What if we took Jesus’ directions to heart? “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus is not telling us that there is never a place and time to correct another who is struggling with sin, as some have assumed. His words to us are the same as God’s were to Ezekiel. Before we share God’s corrective message with another, we must first examine our own lives under the same light. It will make all the difference between being a ‘helper’ and just being a ‘hypocrite.’ God absolutely wants His followers to share with others the truth that we know, but until we have first learned to live it our words will carry no weight. We must let God’s word sink deep into our own hearts first, then we will be able to speak into another’s life—not from a position of superiority, but as someone who has learned to live God’s message.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Monday, May 31, 2021
“All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.” (John 14:23-24a, NLT)
Ever since the first man and woman rebelled against God, humanity’s condition is one of utter depravity. Sin has infected the ‘good’ of God’s creation; we are left now to wrestle with the resulting chaos in nature and with a spiritual cancer that has infected the heart of every human being who has ever lived…yours and mine, too. We as a race, under the unchecked influence of sin, are each capable of unspeakable evil…yes, all of us. Take a recent discovery that made the news this weekend: the remains of 215 children have been found at one of Canada’s residential schools. Many of us are left deeply grieved and angry. This is what humanity apart from God is capable of…and worse.
As I’ve read the articles that have been written in quick succession over this past weekend and people’s responses, I note that many are quick to condemn the government and religious institutions for the mind-boggling abuses that were perpetrated and then for the years of willful resistance to uncover the truth. There are definitely some hard questions that need to be answered and dare I say other ‘skeletons’ to expose. We should be demanding answers of those organizations that allowed abuse to occur, not only unchecked, but state-sanctioned. Canada’s history is in fact littered with stories that make modern-day Canadians cringe as they are unearthed. Canada’s First Nations, Afro-Canadians, Eastern European immigrants (WWI) and those of Japanese descent (WWII) have all endured the ugliness of humanity in the Canadian context. Stories of past historical atrocities can shock us for the sheer disregard of human life. And lest we think that this is all in the past, think again!
We look for someone to take the blame when these abuses come to light; after all shouldn’t someone have to answer for and pay for these crimes? In this weekend’s headlines, I have noted the accusations flung at the Catholic Church. Many priests and nuns have been guilty of the abuse, having participated actively or through their silence. The fact that their crimes were committed while ‘doing work in the name of God’ makes the abuse that much more heinous. Our reactions, however, do not get to the root of the issue. The uncovering of these past abuses has exposed for all the world to see a great fallacy that has been and continues to be rampant, especially in our Christian communities—that somehow religious affiliation can replace relationship with God; that the appearance of religiosity is sufficient without a transformation of heart; that humanity is capable of defeating the sin nature within all of us simply through ‘good works’ without giving control over our lives to God.
People were created in God’s image, but that image has become corrupted. The spiritual cancer of sin has infected us all. There is no escaping it on our own, and as much as we want someone to blame, the pointed finger will always bend itself back around to point at each one of us. Only by turning to the One who made us and loves us will we ever escape the grip of sin on our hearts. God knows the difference between those who call themselves ‘Christians’ and those who have actually submitted themselves to obeying Him. We may fool one another, we may even convince ourselves, but there is no getting this one by God. We can either accept God’s help to control the sin that is in our lives or remain susceptible to its deadly ruination.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, May 25, 2021
“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” (Matthew 5:1-11, NLT)
When was the last time you really sat down and contemplated the “Beatitudes?” If we are serious about wanting the blessings of God, Jesus really does set a challenging list before us. Some of the items on the list make sense to us, like being merciful, pure in heart and working for peace and justice. Others leave us perplexed such as the benefits of being poor, mourning and humility. But then there are those that we might be tempted to skip over all together such as being persecuted for doing right and having our reputations wrecked for simply following him.
In prosperous countries, Christ-followers often fall into a pattern of wrong thinking about God’s blessings. We’re tempted to see lack due to poverty, grieving due to loss and any form of persecution as evidence of God’s withholding of blessing. This is because we have not recognized the true value of the blessings promised by God and have replaced them with worldly comforts. What does Jesus tell us are the blessings of God? To possess the Kingdom of Heaven, receive God’s comfort, inherit the whole earth, satisfy our thirst for justice, receive mercy, see God and be called children of God.
Nothing on that list promises a plump bank account, perfect health, acclaim or the like. In fact, much of the promised blessings are not for the here and now, but for the hereafter. As impatient children, we may find ourselves disappointed by our need to wait or by the fact that some of these blessings are to be awarded in heaven. But our disappointment only shows up our need to see the whole of life as one eternal journey. Our experience this side of the grave is but the mere ‘blink of an eye’ in God’s timeline.
Our disappointment may also reveal a shallowness in our faith. If we as Christ-followers require immediate perks and rewards for our obedience in order to remain loyal, we really ought to consider if we understand the kind of relationship God desires to have with us at all. He is not an employer trying to keep his work force happy and productive. He is our Father who understands our needs. He is the Creator who has a plan for His creation that He is continuing to unfold. He is our good God of love, in whom we can place our unwavering trust no matter what comes our way. Keep your eyes firmly on Him and your life devoted to serving Him, then rest assured, you will receive God’s blessing!
~ 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!