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 7: Parameters for Relationships” (Chapters 7)
Last week we examined 1 Corinthians 5+6, where Paul had some harsh words for the Corinthian believers. Some in the church had been bragging about their freedom in Christ, but had twisted its meaning to permit all sorts of behaviour that even non-Christians recognized as immoral. You can hear Paul’s exasperation as he makes several demands: remove the ‘believer’ who is openly living a sexually immoral lifestyle from the congregation; stop airing grievances before non-believing judges; stop twisting Christian freedom into an excuse for all sorts of pursuits after personal pleasure. In short, stop claiming the name of Christ without changing behaviour! A relationship with Jesus changes us; we are to be different, changed from the inside out through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our transformation is the proof of our salvation, commitment and allegiance.
We ended our examination last week at chapter six, where Paul encourages the believers to treat their bodies as the Temple of God. In chapter seven, he delves further into the place of physical intimacy in the life of the believer. Remember, that despite our chapter and verse divisions, this is a letter Paul is writing with one thought flowing into the next. Today’s study is not a new topic, but rather an expansion of what it means to live both an intimate life with Christ and how it should impact our level of intimacy with other human beings.
You may recall from last week that I mentioned that this is one of my favourite chapters of the Bible...strange chapter to have as a favourite, right? I believe this chapter gives us a true picture of the equality with which Paul viewed men and women in the faith. Many Christians throughout the centuries have misused Paul’s words to block women from enjoying the full freedom in Christ that is theirs to serve as followers of Jesus; others have judged Paul a misogynist, whose teaching in specific situations reveals his attitudes toward the inferiority of women. Today, I stand up in defense of Paul. You simply cannot hold to these views after a study of 1 Corinthians 7. So, with that thought, let’s begin...
“Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
5 Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.”
Daily Devotional - 30 July 2020
“ For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
A week ago, a few of us met at the church building to do some much needed clean-up work. In the process of cleaning out the furnace room, a white growth on the floor came to my attention. It looked like a combination of snow and ice, but given that the temperature in the basement far exceeded freezing, I knew it had to be something else. After consulting with others, we determined that it must be a type of white mold growing around what was evidently a wet spot in the basement. As bleach ‘kills everything’ it was decided to hit the spot with a good dose of diluted bleach. Done! Three days later, our error in diagnosis became apparent.
When I went downstairs to check on it, I discovered that a whole new healthy case of the snow-ice-like growth had returned and was in fact larger than what had been cleared away three short days earlier. So like most people faced with an unknown dilemma, I went to a commonly used source...I googled it. Turns out it wasn’t mold at all, but rather a substance known as efflorescence. Efflorescence and white mold growth can look very similar. It occurs when moisture leaches through concrete and pulls minerals along with the water. So how do you tell efflorescence and white mold apart? Pour some water on it. If it melts away it’s efflorescence; if it doesn’t it’s mold. One of the suggested remedies was vinegar. So I proceeded to next treat it with the correct remedy. After another three days, the growth has not entirely stopped, but has been significantly decreased. What made the difference? The correct diagnosis!
Reading the news this week, I have been reminded of just how very ‘sick’ this world is and of some of the ‘remedies’ being tried to correct the problems. An Afghanistan woman beaten for having a prescription made out in her name; a Samoan chief sentenced to ten years in prison for his conviction of slavery; a state suing the federal government in the USA; Chinese and American consulates shut due to accusations of spying; Russian online interference charged by the UK and denied. I could go on. Each story identifies a problem and many corrective measures are proffered. But I can’t help but wonder if all our human effort provides little more than a bandage–a solution that will prove entirely ineffective for dealing with our global problems. Ultimately, we are experiencing the consequences of humanity’s poor choices; but the misuse of our freewill is only the presenting problem. The most accurate diagnosis for our problem is sin–our continued disobedience to the will of God. The only remedy that can result in a ‘cure’ is a belief in the work of redemption done by Jesus on the cross.
That is not to say that we don’t work to correct the presenting problems. There is still work to be done to clean away the ongoing build-up as sin leaches through every pore of what was once God’s very good Creation. However, only the correct remedy will provide any real relief. We need God to help us clean up this mess! And in case we are quick to point fingers, remember that the first mess that needs cleaning up is our own. May we not be satisfied with simply scraping away the residual effects of sin in our lives so that we ‘look’ okay...let’s submit to the work that God can do in our lives to transform us, so that we become real change makers!
~ Pastor Jane
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3"
Today’s Topic: “Week 4: Sin Changes Everything!”
Scripture: Genesis 3
Today, the topic of sin is on the agenda. Before we begin, how many ways has sin infected God’s good Creation? What evidence do we have that ‘sin’ is a real thing? Lots! Abuse, exploitation, selfishness, pain, decay, natural disasters, disease, viruses...sin is like a cancer that has been allowed to spread unchecked. It has impacted every aspect of life–physical, emotional, relational, spiritual!
Like the two previous chapters in Genesis, there is much detail contained in the third chapter that can be entirely overlooked if we don’t stop to digest it. Let’s read the chapter together.
Some noteworthy things to consider:
GENESIS 3:1-6 ~ THE CONVERSATION
The Serpent - There are many ideas about the serpent, some of them contradictory. It appears to be one of the created ‘wild animals’ but was craftier than most. When it spoke to Eve, we get no sense that this caused her to be alarmed. Could animals talk or was this a special empowerment for this moment? As a creature of the Garden prior to the fall, could it intentionally lie (if not, it would appear that Satan was involved in the exchange) or did it have the ability to reason but was doubtful of God’s instructions to Adam and Eve? Under the influence of Satan, did the serpent deceive her on purpose or did he have the ability to think things through and had developed a conspiracy theory of his own? What did he actually say?
https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/satan/the-devil-is-in-the-details-%E2%80%A6-or-is-he/ retrieved on Friday, July 24, 2020.)
Eve (and Adam) - Up to this point, Eve has never been lied to, never even been encouraged to entertain the idea that God might be withholding something desirable from her and Adam. She believed that ‘touching’ the fruit would cause her death, but nothing appeared to happen when she did. This only verified what the serpent had said, “You won’t die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). Nothing about the fruit itself deterred her; “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it”(3:6). She took it and ate it and...nothing happened! So she gave some to Adam “who was with her” (3:6), we can assume also looking on–a silent but equal participant in the conversation.
GENESIS 3:7-13 ~ OPENED EYES
New Knowledge...and then “their eyes were opened” (3:7). A whole new world of knowledge flooded in, but none of it good.
• The felt shame at their nakedness and made coverings (3:7)
• They felt not only the need to hide their bodies, but also themselves from God because of fear (3:10)
• Adam refuses to take responsibility for his actions and attempts to shift the blame; it was the woman’s fault, which makes it God’s fault for putting her in the garden in the first place (3:12)
• The woman blames her poor choice on being deceived by the serpent (3:13)
It is interesting to note that neither attempts to deny the fact that they ate the fruit. Though they hid their nakedness and themselves from God, they simply could not hide their guilt.
God had forbidden them to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He never intended ‘evil’ to be a part of the human experience. However, having given us freewill, He chose not to withhold the opportunity for us to choose whether or not we would attempt to gain it or remain obedient. He didn’t design us to experience or to participate in the act of causing or feeling shame and fear...along with a plethora of other negative emotions. The first man and woman’s disobedience introduced the cancer of sin to God’s Creation–all of it! God’s earlier proclamation of ‘very good’ no longer was.
GENESIS 3:14-20 ~ CURSES & CONSEQUENCES
God’s Discipline ~ Pain & Futility
What to Expect ~
Rejection of God - No longer would God be the centre of the woman’s desire and loyalty. Despite the pain she would suffer in childbirth, her strongest desire would be for her husband (3:16). However, the woman would no longer be recognized by Adam as his ‘ezer’ either.
& Power Imbalance - Adam would rule the woman, just as he ruled over the other creatures of Creation (3:16). In fact, after God reveals the consequences of having unleashed sin upon the world, Adam’s first act as ‘ruler’ is to name the woman ‘Eve’ (3:20) just as he had named the animals.
Natural Consequence ~ Decay & Death - They may not have suffered immediate death, but from that point on their bodies underwent the aging process of decay. Death meant that their physical bodies would return to ‘dust’ (3:20).
GENESIS 3:21-24 ~ A WHOLE NEW WORLD
God provided them with clothing from animal skins (3:21) - Up to this point there had been no need for clothing. Yes, they desired to cover their nakedness, but it may be that a change in the weather also required proper clothing to replace their hastily assembled fig leaves.
God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (3:23) - Their banishment was actually a kindness. Now that sin had infected the entire Creation, if they had eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life (3:22) they would have had to live forever in sin, just like the fallen angels and would have lost out on the opportunity to start afresh.
God could no longer trust His human creations (3:24) - God set guardian Cherubim at the gate with a flaming sword that flashed back and forth; He knew He could not trust humanity to leave the Tree of Life alone. Our desire to extend our earthly lives has become a pursuit of the human race from the beginning of time and the tree that offered eternal life would have proven irresistible to sin infected humanity.
Over time much has changed, to the point that the reason for God’s declaration on His Creation as “very good” is sometimes not apparent.
Because of sin’s introduction into God’s perfect Creation, we are left with a mess–one of our own making!
Daily Devotional - 16 July 2020
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
We know that God wants us to be thankful and grateful. Over 100 times in the Bible, you can find God’s reminder to us for the need to give thanks. For what? Well, as the above verse tells us...everything! God wants us to be people of thankfulness...not presuming upon His graciousness, not complaining and whining, not with a self-entitled attitude, “I don’t need to be grateful...it’s my right.” Thankfulness does not come naturally to us in our natural sinful condition, which is why God has given us so many reminders.
The opposites of thankfulness are unthankfulness and ingratitude. These rob us of our ability to praise God and are the fertilizer from which other ugly human characteristics arise...like impatience, bitterness and jealousy. How often do we excuse this negative list? I don’t need to be patient, they need to hurry up. I would rather remain bitter for the rest of my days than forgive. Or take jealousy. If left unchecked, jealousy–being envious of another–can lead to murder.
Consider the story of Cain and Abel. Thankful Abel brings an offering to God, some of the best of his flock. God is pleased. Begrudging Cain brings an offering to God, withholding the best for himself. God lets it be known that his offering is not of the same high quality as his brother’s, but “[he] will be accepted if [he] does what is right.” Does Cain acknowledge his inferior offering and determine to do better next time? No. He determines to get rid of the competition (Genesis 4).
Cain ends up killing his brother Abel, but not in a fit of rage. The murder is entirely premeditated. Cain invites his brother to go out into the field and then, when he has him in a place with no witnesses, he attacks him. Abel is killed in cold blood. Why? Because of jealousy.
Jealousy is an ugly quality, one we must work hard at to uproot and not excuse. Where jealousy is allowed to grow, murder is soon to follow...not necessarily of a physical kind, but destructive nonetheless. Jealousy’s intent is to destroy the object of one’s envy. Actual murder is one means; the destruction of another’s reputation is another. Gossip is abhorrent to God, but in the mouth of an individual riddled with jealousy, it takes on a whole new life of its own. Proverbs 10:18 tells us, “Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.” God is very clear that “ If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see (1 John 4:20)?
So what’s the solution? Thankfulness! Allow gratitude to grow the attitude of contentment in your life. If we do not actively work against the development of the ugly qualities of sinful human life, we will find them taking over. A regular dose of giving a thankful shout-out to God is a good place to begin. And what should we be thankful for? Everything!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 8 July 2020
“ For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away—all the souls I have made. I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them...” (Isaiah 57:16-17).
We speak often of God’s love, but what of God’s anger? The Old Testament is filled with stories of God’s anger, punishment and righteousness indignation that tend to cause us to squirm a little. We like the idea that God will have ‘vengeance on our enemies,’ yet cower at the thought of His anger being directed at us. As much as God is a God of love, He is also a God of justice; and even though He is patient, giving us opportunities to rectify wrongs, at some point He promises to step in–at which point His righteous anger is displayed. How can we accept both our God as a God of love–sacrificial, compassionate and full of grace–and as a God of justice–sword drawn, ready to punish and even to spill the blood of His enemies?
Some people have attempted to deal with this apparent discrepancy by separating the Old Testament and New Testament or by separating God the Father from God the Son and Holy Spirit. I have heard Christians reject the Old Testament portrayal of God the Father–that was God in the past, but is no longer applicable--in favour of the more loving, forgiving and compassionate manifestation of God the Son in the New Testament. By doing so, however, we demonstrate our rejection of Jesus’ own words, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30) and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)! The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s love and mercy, too; the New Testament also tells of God’s anger. Rather than creating an ‘old god’ and ‘new god’ historical view, might it not be better to examine the causes of God’s anger?
The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of God using both tender and punitive terms. But as I have been reading the book of Isaiah one thing has been brought to my attention repeatedly–God really hates it when people abuse and mistreat other people–and He will see that justice is done; however, there’s something else–many of the passages about God’s impending judgement and day of wrath are prophetic. It is the Son, the Chosen One, our coming King and Lord, who will be the one to wield the sword of righteousness. Take these words from Isaiah 59:16-20a, “The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him. He put on righteousness as his body armour and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth. In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the Lord. The Redeemer will come...” Jesus is the One who steps in to take the side of the oppressed, the Redeemer!
The days of God’s anger at sin and punishment for evil and disobedience cannot be relegated to some dusty archive of human existence. The God of Creation, the God of the wilderness, the God in the manger, the God on the cross, the God whose return we are to be eagerly anticipating is the same God–three in One–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God still gets angry at disobedience; He will discipline us when we mistreat others while He comes to their defense. He hasn’t changed–just read the account of Jesus at the Temple (Matthew 21; John 2) or of the rider on the white horse (Revelation 19). But even in the midst of dire warnings, God also provides His many promises, “I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts” (Isaiah 57:15b).
Those who choose to live their lives in obedience to the two greatest commandments, “Love God and love others as yourself” have nothing to fear from our God of love and justice. I pray that God will help us to understand who He is, His character, His goodness and the relationship that He desires from each of us. Solomon had some good advice when he wrote Proverbs 9:10, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” Those who live in obedience to God’s ways need not fear His anger, but can rest securely in His grace and love.
~ 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!