Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
Daily Devotional October 22, 2020
“For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth” (Psalm 103:11).
A quick look around us reveals chaos of all kinds. We look for someone to blame. And we find an easy target–God. If He’s truly Sovereign, then obviously He could fix this mess...and should. However, I believe that it is not God against whom we should lay this charge, but rather our own lack of ‘fear of God.’ I am convinced that when we treat God with contempt He removes His promised intervention...and leaves us to our own devices. This is not just a problem for those who do not know God. Those of us who call ourselves Christians vehemently and automatically deny the charge, “Of course we don’t treat God with contempt!” But do we dare allow the Holy Spirit to shine His spotlight on our lives to reveal if there is any truth to this idea that we may in fact be guilty of treating God with less respect than He requires?
Showing contempt can be defined as valuing something as worthless, or withholding consideration; it can also be defined as disrespectful, such as in a court of law. The Bible recounts a story of God’s dealing with people who showed Him contempt even while in the process of reestablishing God’s rightful place among His people. The Ark of God had been captured during a battle with the Philistines and for months they paid the consequence of a plague. They decided that the only thing to do was return the Ark to the Israelites. The Israelites were of course overjoyed, but curiosity got the better of some of them. God struck down seventy men who chose to look inside the Ark. The residents of Beth Shemesh, now fearful, contacted the people of Kiriath Jearim. The Ark was then taken to Abinadab’s house where Eleazar was given the role of priestly oversight and there it stayed for twenty years; Abinadab’s household enjoyed God’s blessings during this time (1 Samuel 6).
After David became king and established Jerusalem as the royal city, he decided to move the Ark of God. 30,000 young men were gathered, a new cart was built, musicians were engaged and two of Abinadab’s sons walked with the Ark–both priests, Ahio lead the way and Uzzah followed. But at the threshing floor of Nakon, the oxen stumbled so Uzzah instinctively put out his hand to steady the Ark. He was instantly killed, much to the shock and disbelief of everyone in the procession. What had been his great fault for which God had killed him? His lack of reverence. This was no mere piece of furniture he was moving. Could it be that after twenty years of having lived with the Ark of God, Uzzah had become overly familiar? David panics and gets angry. It is obvious that his anger isn’t directed at Uzzah, but at God Himself. After all the pains David had taken to respectfully move the Ark, it hadn’t been enough! He leaves the Ark of God with Obed-Edom fearful of what would happen if he attempted to move it to Jerusalem. But within three months, David comes back with a new plan. This time he leaves nothing to chance. The Ark of God, like God Himself, must be treated with the utmost respect. This time priests were assigned to carry the Ark and for every six steps they took, David made an offering of a bull and a calf, until it reach the special tent David had made for it (2 Samuel 6).
There is an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and Uzzah proved the saying to be true. Believers must actively work against becoming overly familiar with God. We enjoy a privileged space in history following the incarnation. We can come into God’s very throne room with confidence in our times of prayer...no sacrifice is required. We are assured of forgiveness because of Christ’s redemptive work. I can’t help but wonder, however, if our assurance and confidence has eroded our fear of God, causing us to treat Him irreverently...maybe even as not worthy of our due consideration. If this is the case, and the evidence appears overwhelming that it is, we need look no further than the mirror to find the reason for the chaos that surrounds us. Family of God, I want to encourage you today to make every effort to renew your relationship and fear of God–He is a friend, but He is also holy; a loving father and a jealous God; patient, yet swift to bring justice. We can have confidence and assurance in His love and forgiveness, but only as we remember to offer Him the respect and worship He requires.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 9 September 2020
“Lord save us! We’re going to drown” (Matthew 8:25b)!
What word best describes you in the middle of a ‘storm?’ Peaceful or panic-stricken? Do you continue on nonplused by the chaos that threatens to upend your life or do you jump into one of two more common response modes–immobilization or improvisation? How you respond says a lot about where you place your trust. As Christians we talk about trusting God...a lot! But do we actually know what it looks like. Today, I am reminded of the story found in Matthew 8:23-27.
Matthew provides us with a first hand account of what took place on the Sea of Galilee. After a long day of ministering to people’s needs, Jesus instructs the disciples to get in their boat and sail to the other side. As they’re on the water, a fierce storm suddenly blows up and they find themselves in a fight to keep the boat aright and from filling up with water. Their first instinct is what I’ve dubbed improvisation. When the storm blew up, they did what came naturally–they rowed and they bailed water. They were relying on their own ability to fight the storm. But it became obvious that their efforts would not be enough to land them on the other side, so they quickly flip to the next common response, immobilization, as the fear of the storm took hold. In desperation they wake Jesus up...that’s right...through all the turmoil and chaos they find Jesus peacefully asleep!
Daily Devotional - 26 August 2020
“Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
What do you do in the face of the unexpected? Truth be told, James tells us that we should never get comfortable in our expectations–which can all change in a moment’s notice. COVID-19 should have taught us all that, with its seemingly endless reminders. We are not in control. And if we can’t even control a little thing like a virus, it really is nonsensical to think that we truly control anything outside of our ability to determine our emotional response to the ever-changing uncertainties of this life.
How often has it happened, that just when we get comfortable, the proverbial rug is ripped out from under our feet. Many things should caution us against getting overly confident in our plans, aside from pandemics–illness, change in financial situation, natural disaster, unexpected pregnancy and even death...obviously this list could be far bigger! So what’s to be done–no one can live in a state of never-ending uncertainty? We’d go crazy! The answer is to find your certainty, purpose and direction in the only stability that this universe offers–a relationship with God.
The Bible assures us that we can “Trust the Lord with our whole being; don’t rely on your own limited understanding and resources. In all aspects of your life recognize His authority, and He will show you which paths are best to follow” (Proverbs 3:5-6, my paraphrase). There’s nothing God doesn’t know, nothing He is powerless to change, no place that He is not permitted to go...but best of all, as the source of love, His plans are set for our good and for the betterment of this entire world and the people who call it home. We need to remember that our plans and expectations are never foolproof and are therefore, unreliable. God is wholly trustworthy–so place your confidence in Him–and discover the only source of assurance that is available to us in this life!
I realize that for those who have never experienced a relationship with God this may sound like complete rubbish–I’m just using the idea of God as an emotional ‘crutch.’ However, I know that I don’t stand alone in my experience. We can talk about how wonderful it is, but only those who have experienced a relationship with Jesus can understand and attest to the truth of what I say. I would challenge anyone reading this devotional to not reject it out of hand; the truth is there for anyone who asks for it.
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 10 August 2020
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces” (Psalm 34:4-5).
The above verses were written by David during a time that fear could have absolutely consumed him–his life was in double-jeopardy. He had been brought before King Achish (1 Samuel 21) a Philistine king who knew David’s reputation and his history–here was the giant killer! David was in the process of attempting to escape from King Saul, but when he got to the city of Gath he was recognized by the leaders who were unhappy he was there, “Isn’t this David, who they sing about having killed 10,000s?” They brought him to their king; I highly doubt they asked David if he wanted to go. Were they going to kill him? Imprison him? He didn’t know, but he kept his wits about him and was granted release when he convincingly played the part of a crazy man–scratching on doors and allowing his own drool to run down his beard. Desperate times call for desperate measures! In his moment of fear and desperation, David tells us in Psalm 34 that he had asked God to rescue him and He had.
We may not fear for our lives, but our society seems permeated with fear nonetheless. We’ve put our trust in things that cannot ‘save’ us and are left attempting to grapple with constant fear–fear of change, of the unknown, of the future, of others’ opinions. And as fear takes hold, it drains us of courage and hope, replacing these life giving attitudes with anxiety and depression. Take a look around you. Anxiety and depression have quite literally put a choke hold on our North American society–a continent that has more to be thankful for than almost any other segment of our global population. As we have allowed fear and the resulting anxiety and depression to take hold, we have begun withdrawing from others, viewing them as contributors to the problem, rather than recognizing fear as the catalyst for our pervasive anxiety.
Unfortunately, in our state of fear we often panic and do not recognize true lifelines. We perpetuate our fear by attempting to safeguard ourselves; but nothing outside of God will ever help us out of our predicaments of fear–not money, not occupations, not connections. Haven’t we witnessed how a very small thing can set our entire planet into a complete tizzy? We lose our heads or jump into full-fledged denial–neither approach is helpful; both are systemic of the fear that we have. We are not in control.
When we turn to God in our desperation as David did, we are reminded, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). God’s Holy Spirit provides those who trust God with courage, compassion and self-control. In these days of uncertainty, as we continue to wrestle with the effects of COVID-19–attempting to control its spread while also attempting to alleviate the potential economic difficulties looming in our near future–we are in dire need of people who rely on God’s Spirit to overcome the fear that is threatening to sink us. It isn’t COVID-19 that will cause the greatest disaster at this time–it is our reactions to it. If we respond in fear, we have already lost; if we rely on God to help us act courageously, extend compassion and use self-control, we will be able to say with David, “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
~ 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!