Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “Be Different” based on 1 Corinthians
Today’s Topic: “Week 4: When Correction is Needed” (Chapters 5+6)
For further study:
“Enduring Word” Commentary - https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/1-corinthians-1/
(retrieved September 9, 2020)
Bible Project - 1 Corinthians - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiHf8klCCc4
New International Biblical Commentary - 1 Corinthians - Marion L. Soards
In the previous chapters we have already examined, Paul has addressed the ridiculous way that the Corinthians had divided themselves into teams around their favourite teachers–“I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos”....etc. He tells them that it is nonsense for them to try to claim spiritual superiority over others based on these alliances, because each of their teachers has simply been a steward, serving the very same Master; the Church is to be rightly understood as God’s property and everyone in it is a worker who He has assigned specific tasks to, without assigning lesser than or greater than rankings. Last week, in chapters four and nine, Paul demonstrated that his task in the life of the Corinthian church was that of their ‘father’ or founder in Christ Jesus. As such they should be imitating his example, just as he imitates Christ. He has tried to persuade them that they have been set apart for God and should no longer resemble the world from which they have been saved.
As he has argued his points he has utilized rhetorical questions, metaphors and sarcasm–at times desiring to shame them into acknowledging how badly they have gotten off track and at other times encouraging and coaxing them as their father in order to persuade them to correct their behaviours. As we proceed onto chapters five and six we will note that this pattern of sarcasm and shaming for the purpose of recognizing their failings continues...almost biting at times, but deliberate and necessary.
Daily Devotional 28 Sept 2020
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
When I think of how we are told to imitate God as His children, it’s helpful for me to picture this scene. Ladies, you go to the bathroom and find your make-up bag in disarray...powder on the counter, lipstick smudges on the mirror and the overpowering scent of your perfume used to excess. You follow the scent and find your two year old staring at themselves in the mirror–face covered with lipstick and mascara, perfume heavy in the air, feet adorned with your favourite heeled shoes and wearing an assortment of your clothing, hats and/or jewelry. They are excited to see you. They want to show you how beautiful they are...just like you! In their childlike way they are showing how much they value the relationship they have with you, by trying to imitate you. Is this not the perfect picture of how we are to imitate God?
Daily Devotional 22 Sept 2020
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
I recently received a forward of a message given by a Pre-tribulation Pre-millinealist Dispensational preacher. If you don’t know what that means, it’s really not that important for this devotional. Suffice it to say that his message was a familiar one...it entirely aligns with the teaching I received about the end times as a child in the church I grew up. But it’s not the only view...and is no longer one I strictly hold to. The video left me somewhat disturbed though and my knee-jerk reaction was to mount a rebuttal...a response I quickly rejected.
Daily Devotional - Focus Your Minds on Things Above
“Focus your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you...” (Colossians 3:2b-5a).
As a human race we really don’t like having to take orders. We want to do things our own way. Period. This propensity may in fact be the biggest struggle Jesus’ disciples have...to put to ‘death’ the natural earthly desires for power, independence and self-determination. We must resolve to focus on our counter-cultural, righteous ruler–Jesus Christ–to whom we owe our undivided allegiance for the new life we have been given through Him.
But too often we ‘forget’ who’s really in charge and we try to orchestrate circumstances to our own advantage. I have been reminded of this during my recent readings of the book of Numbers. The Israelites really were a cantankerous bunch. After more than a year of God’s miracles, Moses leadership and the installation of Aaron as high priest, Korah and his followers still weren’t convinced that the right people were in charge. As a result of their rebellion, thousands died–first the leaders of the rebellion when the earth swallowed them up and then through a plague that ravaged those who complained against the punishment the leadership hopefuls had received (Number 16). Their complaint against Moses and Aaron, was really directed higher up. They did not want to submit to God’s choices and wanted the power to do things their own way.
Immediately after these events, we read the story of how Aaron’s staff budded, produced flowers and almonds overnight (Numbers 17). It seems a strange miracle, but God was sick and tired of the Israelites constantly complaining against Moses and Aaron, as though they had decided to become the leaders of this traveling nation on their own. He determined to put an end to the constant play for power that was going on in the camp amongst each of the tribes’ various leaders. God instructed Moses to gather a staff from each of the leading members of the twelve tribes of Israel and to write their names on each leaving no room for doubt of ownership. He was then to lay each of these in the Tabernacle. By causing Aaron’s staff to become green again, produce leaves, blossoms and almonds overnight, while the other eleven staffs remained untouched, God sent a clear message. Like it or not, God had made His choice and His choice was for the tribe of Levi to serve in the Temple, and for Aaron and his sons to serve as priests and high priest. End of discussion.
How often do we try God’s patience in a similar fashion. God is not required to explain to us His plans–the how, who, when, what, where or why. The fact that God is the source of love, has good plans for us and is trustworthy should be enough for us; unfortunately, it is often not. Why? Because we resurrect the sinful ‘old man,’ rather than continually putting it and our earthly desires to death. The key to experiencing a life of purpose and fulfillment, is obedience and submission to the One who provides it. Jesus was very clear, “Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples, and He told them, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul’” (Mark 8:34-36)?
If we are determined to have our own way, to set our own course, to be the boss, God will not fight us. He respects and honours the free will with which He created humans; however, choose to do things your way and the consequences are clear–‘what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul.’ We have options, but only one choice is the way to God...
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 2 September 2020
“My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
This morning, I was struck anew by the conviction, dedication and determination of Paul’s words. “My life is worth nothing...” His very breathe and the beat of his heart was owed to the work assigned to him by his Saviour, Jesus, whom he had met on the road to Damascus. But what prompted this pronouncement makes it even more incredible. “I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead” (Acts 20:22-23). The Holy Spirit had set Paul on a path that would lead to assured suffering–he knew this–but he never wavered. I am somewhat awed by his response. Would I show the same resolve? That no matter the suffering, I must follow the course God has set before me...otherwise my life is worth nothing?
I hope that I would do so, but even though I am fairly certain I would continue to walk stalwartly in the direction God had shown, I’m less convinced that I would be as uncomplaining. On our continent we are not accustomed to facing persecution for our faith. Of course, we are liable to face contempt, repudiation and misunderstanding at the very least; however, incarceration, beatings and even death are not serious threats to our faith...not yet anyways. When we face resistance we are often quick to denounce others, protest over the infringement of our rights and demand justice; many of these responses are not available to our brothers and sisters living in more restricted areas of the world. If we had no hope for recourse, would we echo Paul’s words, “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God?”
Just a thought worth pondering...
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 17 August 2020
“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God” (Psalm 146:5).
At the risk of offending some, in today’s devotional I am going to mix politics and religion, though maybe not in a way you’d expect. I have noticed a disturbing trend among Christians these days and I am feeling impelled to speak to it. The world is becoming entirely too divisive. As Christ’s disciples, we have been called to strap on the sandals of the Good News which brings peace; but instead, too many have become consumed with fighting the enemy’s distraction skirmishes rather than fight the enemy himself. I have noted the bitter condemnation and demonization of groups of people due to political affiliations and the attempts to deify others. Dear Christian brother and sister...wake-up! People are not the enemy; neither do they bring salvation. Read what David, one of Israel’s greatest kings, had to say about putting our trust in manmade political systems: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing” (Psalm 146:3-4). David makes it very clear, even in his role as king, that we are mistaken to place our trust in people...no matter their rank or, dare I say, political persuasion.
I would also dare say, having witnessed the fierceness and even hatred directed toward opposing factions, that we have lost sight of whose side we are to be on and what the ‘battle’ is even about. I am reminded of the story of Joshua and his encounter with the Captain of the Lord’s Host. The Israelites had finished wandering in the wilderness for forty years, had crossed over the Jordan River and were poised to begin taking over the land. Joshua takes a walk toward Jericho, the first city on the list, but comes upon an individual with a drawn sword. Joshua wants to know what all of us would want to know, whose side is this stranger on. Has he just discovered another ally or does he need to prepare to defend himself? The stranger’s response drops Joshua to his knees, “‘Neither one,’ he replied. ‘I am the commander of the Lord’s army’” (Joshua 5:14). God had shown up, not to declare His allegiance to any particular side, but to provide directions that if obeyed would ensure success. And what crazy directions they are–involving marching in silence for a full six days, then another day of marching followed by a loud shout of acclamation to the Lord–to cause the mighty walls of Jericho to collapse. This encounter was not about God being on anyone’s side, it was Joshua’s moment to prove that he was on God’s side!
At this point some of you will undoubtedly want to argue that your support of a particular political persuasion is proof of your being on God’s side. A word of caution. The things that we want our political leaders to provide–justice, impartiality and wise leadership–are next to impossible without God. Psalm 146 is clear concerning who we need to trust, “God is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked” 146:6-9). A leader on God’s side, and anyone who claims the name of Christ, should be busily about the work of our Father in heaven...not jumping on political band wagons.
My advice during these times of division is to start being the light (Matthew 5:16), the salt (Matthew 5:13), the branches (John 15:5) that we have been called to be. Stop judging, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). Pray for those in leadership, “Pray for all people, including for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Put your faith in the only One who is trustworthy, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).
Rather than take a political side, I choose to take God’s side, because the only side God takes is the side of righteousness–not defined by blind allegiance to systems of the world–but obedience to our Lord God Almighty! And His royal decree is to love Him and love others.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 13 August 2020
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).
Today was the day. I had been looking at our hibiscus plant in the lobby for the past couple of weeks knowing that I was going to have to deal with it. What was the problem? This plant had been absolutely full of blooms in late winter and had even produced a second bunch in early summer. Despite our isolation, it continued to bloom right on schedule. So what was the problem? It was in need of being pruned.
It loves the diffused light provided for it by the front entrance and it grows well. After the blooms were gone, it continued to produced new growth–extending branches with leaves. It was actually getting a little ungainly. Plants, like people, if left unattended will continue to grow, but may not end up producing as they should. We keep hibiscus plants, not for the leaves they grow, but for the beautiful blooms they produce. And while our plant in the lobby had done exactly what was expected this past season, it needed tended to ensure that it would continue to bloom in the upcoming calendar year. So, today was the day.
I brought out my pruning scissors and went to work. Our lovely plant had actually become a little bit wild. It had continued to grow non-stop and was overtaking more space than was helpful. If left untended, much of its energy next blooming season would have continued to go into the production of branches and leaves, not blooms. So, I snipped, cut and pulled off extraneous leaves and branches and the result is a much reduced plant. But I know, that because of my work today, next winter or spring, it will once again provide us with an abundance of blooms to admire and beautify our lobby.
If our hibiscus could talk, it might not have been so appreciative. Cutting hurts and if all we had to consider was today, it does not make sense to remove perfectly healthy branches. It would probably cry out, “why”, “save me”, “that hurts”, and “what are you doing?” How could I possibly know what a plant would say? I am using our human responses to God’s pruning in our lives to extrapolate from our own feelings. As God’s children Jesus has warned us that if we aren’t ‘producing fruit’ God will remove us; if we are ‘producing’ then He has encouraged us that He will prune us to make us even more productive. We often resist ‘pruning’–what’s wrong with the way things are? Aren’t we serving God? Aren’t we being His Ambassadors? To which God lovingly replies, that His pruning ensures that we will continue to do so and through His work in our lives He can make us even better. Trust Him!
Daily Devotional - 11 August 2020
“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works” (James 2:26).
In 2018, 55% of Canadians identified themselves as Christians. A solid one in every two people believe in God. The stats sound wonderful, until we view it through our everyday context. I would almost guarantee that while one in two Canadians may say they believe in the existence of God, it would be a very different picture if we asked all the self-identified ‘Christians’ if they had a relationship with this God they believe in. A relationship with God should change us–our actions, words and thoughts. Do we follow and obey Christ, as the name implies? If not, James has a very strong warning for us.
Many people in the early church believed in God, but did not see a need to change how they lived. After all you can’t earn your way to heaven; doesn’t the idea of having to do good things to demonstrate your faith teach that your relationship with God–forgiveness, salvation, eternity–needs to be earned? Not according to James. He equated a faith in God–self-identification with Christ–as being dead if there was no proof of life. Think of it this way. If you came across an unresponsive person lying on the ground what is one of the first things you should do? Check for a pulse. When it comes to faith, a belief in God is just a body lying on the ground unless it has the heartbeat of good works pulsing through it.
James challenges the believers; what good are your nice sentiments in the face of others’ needs? “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do” (James 2:15-16)? Absolutely none! In fact, all your fine words without the provision for people’s tangible needs may work as a detriment to their accepting that your faith has any meaning at all. Nice sentiments unaccompanied by good deeds are nothing but hot air.
If anyone is still left unconvinced, James sarcastically puts it another way, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless” (James 2:19-20)? Mere belief doesn’t buy the demons any grace from God, so why do we think it is any different for us? Unlike the disobedient angels, our faith should motivate us to do work to please God because of His great love for us–not leave us trembling in terror ...or feeling smugly secure!
We are to obey to ‘royal law’–coming straight from the King himself–to “love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8). James cannot say it enough, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17). His challenge for all of us who self-identify as Christians is to prove that our faith has a heartbeat. What good work will you do today?
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 7 August 2020
“God gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:6-10).
Yesterday, we left Peter deeply humiliated and ashamed of his disloyalty. He had expected more of himself. But in the midst of the monumental plot twist he had just experienced–the conquering Messiah had turned into a docile prisoner–Peter had been left thoroughly unhinged. This man who had declared with such certainty, “Even if everyone else deserts you, Jesus, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33) just hours earlier, found he couldn’t escape the room quick enough under Jesus’ knowing gaze as the rooster crowed, signalling Peter’s three-fold betrayal, “I don’t know him.” This must have felt like the end of the world for Peter, but those of us on this side of history see the fuller story. Peter had been thoroughly humbled–necessary preparation for him to lead The Way!
When Jesus had first called Peter to follow Him as one of His disciples, Peter’s response is quite humble, recognizing his unworthiness to serve the Messiah, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). But over the next three years of following Jesus, something changed. Peter, ever the most impetuous of the disciples, is first to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20); is the only one to ask Jesus to allow him to walk on water (Matthew 14:28); is quickest in his defence of Jesus, pulling out his sword in the garden (Luke 22:49-50); is loudest in his declaration of loyalty, “Even if everyone else deserts you, Jesus, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33).
And didn’t everyone know that Peter was one of Jesus’ favourites? He was part of Jesus’ inner circle enjoying a privileged position with James and John. And while James and John faced Jesus’ rebuke as the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), Jesus had renamed Simon ‘Peter’ meaning ‘Rock’ (Matthew 16:18). Too, Jesus was always pulling him aside and including him in extra special moments–Peter was one who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration and the visit by Moses and Elijah on the mountain (Mark 9:2-8); he was part of the small group invited to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37); and he was included in those Jesus wanted nearby when He suffered His time of great anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).
Had pride begun to get in the way? Had Peter begun to rely too heavily on his own reputation, forgetting who it actually was that deserved full credit? When faced with how quickly he had caved under pressure–it had been easy to follow Jesus when everything was going according to Peter’s plan–he had become overcome with sorrow and deep grief. He was not the man he thought he was, hoped to be, wanted to portray to others. He was nothing without Jesus leading the way. This was a necessary revelation for Peter, for without it he may have continued to try to do things his own way, rather than Jesus’ Way...and never succeeded in completing the task that Jesus was setting before him. We know that after Jesus once again affirmed Peter in his call “to feed my sheep” (John 21), he goes on to become one of the leaders of the early Church–boldly owning his relationship with Jesus, allowing God to expand his ideas about who was to be included in His Kingdom and, yes, even martyred for his faith...all because of his relearned humility!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 4 August 2020
“If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (James 1:25).
One Sunday morning, a visiting minister asked the children of the church a question, “What is a good climber, has a bushy tale and collects nuts?” After a considerable amount of silence, one brave young boy raised his hand and said, “I know the answer is supposed to be Jesus, but it sounds an awful lot like a squirrel.” Too often, like this boy, we have been programmed to respond with particular answers. For instance, if I were to ask a group of Christians how much they valued the Bible, on a scale of one to ten, the vast majority would unhesitatingly rank the Bible as a ten. If I asked similar questions about prayer and deliberately setting aside time with God, the answer would be the same–a solid ten across the board.
However, if those same people were asked to reflect on the amount of time they actually spent reading the Bible, praying and spending time alone with God–given that they’ve ranked it a ten out of ten in importance–I suspect the results would provide a much lower valuation. Talk is cheap and what we ‘do’ is far more accurate in demonstrating what we consider to be of true value. Many of us give lip service to the importance of God’s Word, praying and spending time with Him, but in truth struggle to set aside time for our relationship with God on a regular basis. And when we do, sometimes it is treated as a item on our to do list that requires checking off, but has little impact on the remainder of our day. We are left unchanged.
James tells us that this type of religious observance does nothing but provide us with a smoke screen–it allows us to pretend that we are in right relationship with God, but in actual fact, we are only ‘fooling ourselves.’ We need to do more than just read the Word–we must do what it says. We need to allow it to identify the areas in our life that need work and then allow the Holy Spirit to change us and to do the work of demolition to make room for setting a foundation upon which He will do His good work in our lives. He continues, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1:23-24). It is a ridiculous picture–to look at yourself in a mirror and then immediately forget what you saw–but that is what James compares the person who reads God’s Word and then immediately forgets how it should bring about change.
And make no mistake–a student of God’s Word recognizes how poorly we measure up to God’s standard. Change is called for. For as long as we walk the face of this planet, we are to be allowing the Holy Spirit to be doing His good work in us–growing His fruit, equipping us for spiritual battle, empowering us with His gifts for the good work we’ve been called to do. God’s Word, prayer and time alone with Him deserve a ‘ten’ valuation in our lives, but these will never be truly given their full due until we take our relationship with God and need to change seriously. Both take effort, time and attention. If your habits indicate that God receives less than ten out of ten, ask Him to help you make the necessary changes that will prove His value in your life.
~ 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!