The chill of the morning air lingers just a little longer before the strength of the sun reminds us summer isn’t quite over. The leaves are slowly turning, but you know that one morning when you open the blinds, everything will be coloured red, yellow, orange, and brown.
The dreaded first frost is holding off for now, but it won’t be too much longer before you have to scrape the thin layer of white before you drive. Or, you just might be one of those who starts the vehicle and lets the defrost do the work for you.
The patio furniture needs to be winterized, the garden needs to be fully harvested, and the rake needs to be swapped out with the shovel. Hoses wrapped, water lines turned off, and one final cut of the grass.
There is something inherently sad, but also a relief because the summer yard work is hard work. It’s nice not to have to remember to water, pull weeds, patch the grass, paint the deck or fascia on the house.
But you know as well as I that the work doesn’t disappear, it changes. It morphs into the tasks of another season.
Hanging the Christmas lights, raking the leaves—which quickly turns into shovelling the driveway and sidewalks. It’s making sure the fireplace pilot light is on or the wood is chopped. It’s blankets and cozy things that make their way into daily use.
And for us who work with a passion for the gospel, it’s special meetings, Alpha, Thanksgiving and Christmas outreaches. It’s making the church open to the community, a lighthouse, a warm and loving place where grace is extended and hope, ignited.
“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. God has given me the responisbility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect [mature] in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”
Colossians 1:24-25; 28-29 NLT
You do what you do at personal cost many times, and that is right. Because according to this scripture, in order to serve the church, you are willing to:
Suffer for the church
Serve the church
Steward God’s Word faithfully
Strive for maturity in God’s people
Struggle and work hard
Sustained by God’s power at work within you
Though the work of every season changes; there is still a need for our Pastors and Church Leaders to be serving from a place of health. So as we head into the busy fall season there are three ways your ACOP Family can help today…
Your regional directors have been prayerfully placed in this position of support. They are there for advice, difficult conversations, and prayer. If you’re not sure who your regional director is, we’re happy to provide you with that information; email us.
You can reach out with a prayer request. ACOP leadership prays! We’re with you to support and trust God that He has all we need. Submit your prayer request through our members portal.
Clergy Care is a service we offer in partnership with Focus on The Family Canada. You have access to professional counsellors, articles on healthy routines in ministry, Kerith retreats, and resources for your ministry. You can access this resource by visiting our members portal.
Extending Grace & Igniting Hope happens when we are serving people with intention. As ACOP Family, we’re moving forward together…
“We acknowledge that the kingdom of God prefers collaboration, interdependence, and community. Whereas the kingdom of darkness prefers independence and individualism. We confess that too often we have chosen independence and individualism and done what was right in our own eyes, for this we repent. Lord, help us to recognize and demonstrate that we are better together.”
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate contest of history, therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.”
We are living in a season of disruption.
It seems that the global Covid-19 pandemic is finally beginning to lose its momentum, but now we are facing economic woes that are shaking the global economy. In North America, inflation is higher than it has been in 40 years, and we are all feeling the pinch of increased costs.
However, in many parts of the developing world inflation has risen astronomically—80% or more within the past year, causing severe economic pain for millions of people.
As followers of Jesus, how do we make sense of this season of disruption?
There is a “go to” scripture that people often turn to in times like these:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This verse is often used as a “spiritual security blanket” in difficult times. We find this verse stamped on T-shirts, imprinted on greeting cards and posters, and etched in coffee mugs.
While it is true that God is a God of hope, we need to understand the context of this verse. This verse was written to people in captivity. This verse was written to people who had been uprooted from their homes and taken to a foreign land. This was written to people who were in a season of disruption.
What this verse tells us that God plays the long game. God was working out a plan that was generations in the making.
Yes, there was hope and a future, but it was not the kind of short-term hope that the captives in Babylon may have wished for. The Lord’s direction to the people in captivity is found earlier in the chapter:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
I would suggest to you that in spite of the disruption we are currently experiencing in our time, we can still have hope because we know that God is working his grand eternal plan, that will culminate in the blessed hope—the return of the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the meantime life goes on, we should live hope-filled lives by building houses, planting gardens, enjoying the harvest, planning weddings, raising children, and loving grandchildren. Be salt and light in our communities and expect that God will cause us to flourish in the midst of this season of disruption.
“We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 3:2 NKJV
In recent years earthquakes, tidal waves, and natural catastrophes all around the earth have caught the attention of the world like few events ever have. Many secular commentators have referenced the Bible, and for good reason.
Wars and strife abound in various nations, and terrorism is rampant. Financial upheaval and failure are all around us. Fear and hopelessness mark the lives of millions of people everywhere. We as Christians should take note of these events, in light of the teaching of God’s word.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
Matthew 24:32-36 NKJV
“But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.”
“These things are the the first pains of childbirth.”—GNT1
“These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born.”—NCV2
“These things will be like the birth pangs of a new age.”—FBV3
Matthew 13:7-8 NKJV
The Old Testament prophets and saints lived in the hope of the coming of the promised Messiah. The Messiah came in the fullness of time…
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Galatians 4:4-5 NJKV
The Old Testament prophets did not clearly see the distinction between the first and second comings of the Messiah. They spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, but they did not always understand the detail of what they were given to speak.
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you throught those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into.”
1 Peter 1:10-12 NKJV
For us, the first coming of Jesus is living history—precise fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. We now live in hope of Jesus’ second coming. That event will also occur in the fullness of time, according to God’s schedule.
Hope can be defined as “the expectation of something desirable, or having confidence in a future event.” It is not wishful thinking, like buying lottery tickets.
“Now faith is the substance [realization] of things hoped for, the evidence [confidence] of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Hebrews 6:19 tells us the hope that is set before us is an anchor for our souls because Jesus, our forerunner, has already entered into the presence of God.
The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible to be written in such a way that believers in every generation, in every era of history, would have reason to live in the expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. Only God the Father knows the exact time when Jesus will return for His church.
Peter wrote of the scoffers who would come on the scene, questioning the purposes of God…
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'”
2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV
Peter goes on to explain the reason for this apparent delay—
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousond years as one day. the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:8-9 NKJV
We will consider five ways the Scriptures speak to us about the hope we as believers have in the return of Jesus Christ.
It is a Certain Hope
God is a God of purpose: He does not say, “I might” or “I’ll try,” but rather “I will.” He speaks and His word is fulfilled.
In Joel 2:28 God said, “I will pour out my Spirit,” and He did.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church,” and He is.
In John 14:3 Jesus said, “I will come again,” and He will. (Note how often the declarative mood is used by Jesus in John 14.)
As Jesus was ascending into Heaven two men in white apparel stood by and said,
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:11 NKJV
He will not be a different Jesus. See the words of Jesus…
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the ligtning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Matthew 24:23-27 NKJV
It will not be a spiritual or symbolic return, but a physical return, a visible return, in like manner as He went into heaven.
When Jesus returns to this earth to establish His millennial reign every eye will see Him.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”
Revelation 1:7 NKJV
This is referred to as the revelation of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus returns for His bride, the church, He is coming for those who are looking for Him, as we read in Hebrews 9:28, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
His return is getting closer each day—and His return was so real to Christians in past years. This song4 reminds us of this fact:
Years of time have come and gone
Since I first heard it told,
How Jesus would come again some day;
If back then it seemed so real,
Then I just can't help but feel
How much closer His coming is today
Jesus is coming again. We need to purpose in our hearts to be ready and watching.
It is a Blessed Hope
“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Titus 2:13 NKJV
It will be blessed in comparison to our present life:
We have abundant life now (see John 10:10; Psalms 16:11; Psalms 84:11)
There is glory to come (see 1 Cor 2:9; Eph 2:7; Phil 3:20-21; Heb 13:14)
It will be even more blessed for those who suffer for their faith in Jesus:
Many Christians in other parts of the world have endured such persecution that some wondered if they were experiencing the great tribulation. Jesus said, in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” The darker the circumstances, the brighter the light shines. Fanny Crosby5 wrote these words:
Oh the children of the Lord have a right to shout and sing,
For the way is growing bright and our souls are on the wing.
It is a Comforting Hope
We are instructed to comfort each other with this hope.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. Forthe Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds tomeet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV
It is a Purifying Hope
The knowledge that Jesus could return at any moment is an incentive for us to live holy lives before God. “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”—1 John 3:2-3
John W. Peterson wrote about this in his song6, “Jesus is Coming”…
O it is a blessed hope to those who know the Saviour,
blessed in the many joys that it will usher in.
Purifying hope that has the power to change behaviour,
Keeping from the world's defilement and sin.
As we live in the hope of the return of Jesus Christ we will want to be holy and blameless before Him because He has made it possible by His provision. Hebrews 12:10, “…that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
1 Thessalonians 3:13 tells us that God’s purpose for us is to establish our hearts “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
It is a Motivating Hope
Many scriptures admonish us to watch and be faithful in what God has appointed us to do. The hope of Christ’s return motivates us to live uprightly and to be actively serving the Lord.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”
Titus 2:11-15 NKJV
We are not just putting in time…
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he come, will find so doing.”
Matthew 24:45-46 NKJV
Doing what? Doing whatever his master asked him to do; being faithful.
There is no promise in Scripture that we will escape persecution. This was a truth I remember discussing with my father a number of years ago. He strongly believed, as I still do, that we need to distinguish between the wrath of man and the wrath of God:
Persecution is the wrath of man (under the obvious instigation of Satan). Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Psalm 76:10 says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you [God]…”
The Great Tribulation will be the wrath of God, with special meaning for the nation of Israel; it is the 70th week of Daniel. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Revelation 3:10 Jesus spoke to the church in Philadelphia saying, “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
An interesting (and sometimes controversial) question was asked by Jesus in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary7: “In general…he will find fidelity among men” (fidelity = “faith” or “faithfulness). “In particular, he will find few that have faith concerning his coming.” “Where is the promise of His coming?”— 2 Peter 3:4
I do not believe this was a question asked in desperation. This is the same Jesus who said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I do believe it is a rhetorical question for us to answer as individuals. For my part, I am determined to be found faithful when Jesus comes for His church.
We are not looking for the anti-Christ; we are looking for the blessed hope.
We are not called to self-preservation; we are called to evangelism. There is an end-time harvest to bring in. God is not willing that any should perish.
Jesus is coming back for “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”—Ephesians 5:27
The church will go out in a blaze of glory: washed in the blood of Jesus, clothed in His righteousness, filled with His Spirit, and walking in His anointing.
From my earliest childhood, I was taught to live as though Jesus could return at any moment. That truth is still as real to me as it ever was. I will close with words of a chorus8 that the Lord gave to me several years ago:
"He's coming again in clouds of glory
He's coming to catch His bride away
Be ready and watching for His coming;
Our Lord Jesus is coming again.
It may be at noon time or at evening,
It may be the dawning of the day;
Be ready and watching for His coming;
Our Lord Jesus is coming again."
Jesus is coming again! Be ready! Be busy! Be faithful!
Ken Dynna is forever thankful for his heritage. His family experienced the faithfulness of God. There was always ministry in music, preaching, and visitation, so he still holds memories of such things.
He graduated from Central Pentecostal College in 1965 and completed his Bachelor’s of Theology in 1988. He’s been blessed with the opportunity to visit many churches from Western Ontario to BC—ministering.
Ken married his wife Heather in 1967, and together have two grown daughters, both of whom live in Vancouver.
Ken and Heather attend the Regina Apostolic Church. In 2004 he was ordained by the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.
Science and statistics wave their unmagic wand across the face of life, squelching the oohs and aahs and replacing them with formulas and figures.
Would you like to see Jesus? Do you dare be an eyewitness of His Majesty?
Then rediscover amazement. The next time you hear a baby laugh or see an ocean wave, take note. Pause and listen as His Majesty whispers ever so gently, “I’m here.”
Max Lucado—God Came Near
A feeling of nostalgia is locked in our minds when we think back to our childhoods. There was wonder in the world when we first made discoveries and when we recall the crazy things we used to do—there is still a sizzle of excitement!
Jumping out of barn lofts, catching anything from frogs to snakes, or bugs. Eating outside, riding bikes, jumping in the lake, or…
Like Hazel’s article (Jesus The Healer), you remember the encounters with God that impacted and changed you!
We each have personal revelations about who He is, where He’s met our needs, spoken a word of peace or correction, or shown His love in unmistakable ways. And this God of love delights in continuing to show us how beautiful life can be.
Rediscovering amazement is not about nostalgia or wishing for what once was. It’s about savoring the simple things, noticing life through a gratitude filter—replacing hopelessness with joy.
It’s good to remember, but it’s also good for our souls to have a laugh around the supper table, to see the little birds around the bird bath—splashing and making noise. It’s good for us to notice the sunrise or sunset, to feel His love painted across the sky.
It’s the warm hand of your spouse or the sticky fingers of the little person in your life. It’s the worship that surrounds you in church on Sunday, causing a tear to fall in gratitude.
“We were not retelling some masterfully crafted legend when we informed you of the power and apprearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we saw His magnificense and splendor unveiled before our very eyes.”
2 Peter 1:16 TPT
We tell others that God wants to show Himself to them, and then we forget to look for Him ourselves, not pointing fingers, just saying that the same God whose magnificence and splendor was on display for the disciples is right there for our discovery too.
Father’s Day is a great time to have your children tell you how amazing you are. I love my boys; it’s great to hear them recount stories that, thankfully, have been affected by their poor memories in a positive way.
However, some children grow up in homes where they didn’t have the best relationship in the world with their dad. For this occasion, Hallmark doesn’t make an honest Fathers Day card, even if we kids could muster up the courage to send it.
Such was my story.
My father left my mother, sister, and me when I was young and was hardly ever in our lives. He struggled with alcohol and as a result, made a decision to leave rather than fulfill the responsibilities of being a husband and a dad.
My sister and I grew up with an understanding that this was just the way it was. Mom was the provider (she did an amazing job) and dad; well he wasn’t the topic of conversation often, even though he lived in the same small Ontario town as we did.
All things considered, we had a good life. After college, I married the girl of my dreams and we had our first child. We came back home to share the birth of our son with my side of the family and had the chance to introduce our son to his grandfather. Thankfully we had a picture taken with them together because it was the only one we would have. Three days later, my father passed away from a brain aneurysm.
Fast forward to a Father’s Day, not so long ago. While talking with my boys, I began to think about my own father. I remembered what he was like and how I have thought about him since he died. I began to wonder what I would say to him if he were still alive today.
I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to take another look at Dad and me.
I realized that as disappointed as I was with our relationship, deep down inside I loved my father. If he were alive today, I would take the time to tell him so, to be honest with him—whether it changed our relationship or not, and to let him know that I forgave him. I would make sure that his grandchildren knew him and I’d tell him about Jesus and how He can change our lives if we let Him.
Thankfully, this isn’t everyone’s story as many have had simply amazing fathers. On the other hand, some have had relationships much worse than I could even begin to imagine. Mine would seem like heaven compared to theirs, but comparing stories isn’t the purpose of this note.
I sensed the Spirit pointing me again to the amazing potential of Christ’s redemption in every situation. Jesus died to provide this hope for all of us and given the chance again, I would live as if this redemption was available for my dad. Because it was.
Unfortunately, I won’t get that chance, but maybe someone who reads this will. It’s worth the risk. Happy Father’s Day!
Larry Moore, married his best friend Sandra, and together they have four sons.
Larry serves as the Lead Pastor at the Regina Apostolic Church.
Larry is also Director Emeritus of United Youth Outreach—being passionate about youth and evangelism.
Spring brings rain, and with it the awakening of life. Life flourishes, thrives, and is thirsty, making the world green all around us. When the sun recovers the sky, we glory in the warmth—the death of winter forgotten, like it never was.
In spring, the death of one we love is never so contrasted. The ACOP Family has lost one of its own, a leader with a hand to the plow, and many across our fellowship are grieving.
The book of Lamentations comes to mind, as we lament; the Hebrew title of this book ‘ekah’ (How…!)—becoming relevant.
Our humanity on this side of life is never so apparent—very real and natural questions surface at times of great sorrow. The expression of our questions is what the Lord wants, He is not afraid of our big questions…
But we must not forget that He is our Hope!
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”…For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.”
Lamentations 3:20-24; 31-33 TPT
This passage of scripture is in the middle of the book, in the middle of it all, in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the grief—a timely reminder that you will find the goodness of God.
He is the Lord of hope, the God of love. He is faithful and His mercies are there every morning. He is your inheritance—specifically, salvation and restoration. He shows compassion coupled with unfailing love.
When you find yourself in the middle allow your heart to say, “I will hope in Him!”
This world does not make sense without Jesus…
“When I was first converted, and for some years afterward, the second coming of Christ was a thrilling idea, a blessed hope, a glorious promise, the theme of some of the most inspiring songs of the church. Later it became an accepted tenet of faith, a cardinal doctrine, a kind of invisible trademark of my minstry. It was the favourite arena of my theological discussions, in the pulpit and in print. Now suddenly the second coming means something more to me. Paul called it ‘the blessed hope.’ But today it appears as the only hope of the world.
From the human standpoint, there is no solution for the problems of the world. Leaders seem to be completely frustrated in trying to deal with the unrest and increasing violence in society.
The only complete and permanent solution is found in the return of Christ. When He comes, He will set up His kingdom. He will rule the nations in righteousness, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
As the waters cover the sea, abundant, filling its borders, like rain in spring that brings a flourish of life, this truth remains…
Recently, my wife, Helene, returned from shopping with a story we can all relate to—whichever side of the fence we’re on.
She was waiting in line to pay, behind an older gentleman. The cashier told the man to pull his mask up, apparently for a second time. He complained he has trouble because he wears glasses. I get that!
The cashier pointed out she was wearing glasses too. The man just grumbled more. As he left, the cashier said to him, “Have a good day!” The older gent just grumbled more saying, “I haven’t had a good day in a long time, the time of good days is long past.”
What a sorry lament, but one many feel after two long years of COVID and restrictions. After he left, the worker just shook herself and said she was sick and tired of grumpy customers. Helene responded to her and said the following:
Don’t let grumpy people bother you, we’ve still got lots of things to be thankful for!
There are those who are thankful you do a good job.
We will get through this!
The cashier responded heartily with, “YES—WE—WILL!” She brightened up and thanked Helene and said, “You have an awesome weekend!”
This woman appreciated the encouragement and reminder we will get through this. It gave her hope. Whether COVID-related or any problem we have in life, we need hope that we’ll get through.
If you have hope you will:
Have staying power.
Resist the temptation to quit.
Continue to search for a strategy to get through your problem.
Survive and thrive!
However, the absence of hope can lead to emotional surrender and a slow death emotionally.
Recently Bell Canada had its yearly ‘Let’s Talk’ promotion encouraging open discussion about mental health. We’re all aware of the increase in opioid deaths. Many are experiencing depression and we Christians aren’t immune. Christian leaders are struggling too, and many are leaving ministry altogether. Hopelessness has made a home in our society.
We need to go back to God’s Word which says, “There is Hope!” Consider Romans 5:3-5 (NLT):
3“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Verse three is one of those ‘fun’ verses that tell us we can ‘rejoice’ in our problems, trials, and tribulations. I’m not very good at rejoicing when I have problems. I feel them. I can get stressed out and even lose sleep over them. But I pray about them too!
The question before us then is, “How can we rejoice in our problems?” We can if we have hope for a positive outcome! That’s the key! Hope is the key! However, if we can’t see a positive outcome:
We will be empty of hope.
We will feel it’s going to end badly.
We may feel trapped in our situation. Stuck in a mire of emotional stress.
We may wish to just walk away, quit, and end it. People walk away from jobs, ministries, marriages, all because they don’t see a way out of their stress.
Hope sees light at the end of the tunnel and knows it’s not the next train coming your way! Romans 5:3-5 illustrates that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It progresses from our troubles and suffering, moves onward until finally saying our hope will not be disappointed—because we know God’s transcending love!
There is something profoundly simple about God’s message of hope in Romans. It’s profound if we ask one simple question. The question is, “Why?” Why did the Lord tell us this? The answer is simple too. The Lord told us this because He knew there would be times when we would not have hope! He knew there would be times when we would question:
Will it work?
Will everything turn out alright?
Will it ever end?
Will God come through for me? Remember you are not so unique that God expects you to struggle on your own. You need Him. And you need others too!
Will God come through for me, or am I too sinful or have I failed too often?
The Lord knew there would be times we’d wonder, “Do I have eternal life or does this problem have eternal life?” Have hope! No trial enjoys eternal life!
God knew we would have times when we would not feel hope. Therefore, He told us, He told you and He told me . . . “if you put your hope in him you will not be disappointed!” He knew there would be times we’d need to remember this! Take hope in God!
God knows there will be times when:
You are sick, so He said He’d heal you.
You’d feel all alone, so He said He’d never leave you.
You’d feel unloved or rejected, but remember, nothing will separate you from His love.
You’d feel great anxiety, but He extends His supernatural peace for you.
You’d feel things are so messed up, but He said, “all things work together for good . . .”
You’d feel so broken, but He is near the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:18).
You’d feel overwhelming sadness, but He said He would turn your mourning into dancing!
You’d feel you’ve blown it and sinned too much, but He said:
He loves you…always.
He will forgive you…again.
He will help you overcome this…too.
The Lord knew you’d have those times when it felt hopeless. Anticipating those times, He gave exceeding great and precious promises for you to take hope in! You will get through this, so take hope!
Peter Barbour lives in Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Helene, have pastored the Aylmer Full Gospel Church since 1981, and prior to that, planted a church in Simcoe, Ontario. He is an ordained member of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada.
He has two married, adult children—who are wonderful, and seven amazing grandchildren.
He enjoys family, reading, walking, and travelling.
Last Sunday we returned to a full capacity worship service at our ACOP church in Dryden. The excitement was palpable. After many long months of adapted worship services, navigating mandates as a community, and dealing with the range of emotionally-charged and political issues related to the pandemic, it was wonderful to gather together in greater numbers for corporate worship of our Lord.
As Pentecostals, we are particularly adept at joyful praise. We welcome the moving of the Spirit, and pray for spiritual renewal and refreshing as we join together each Lord’s Day.
Yet the last two years can serve us well by reminding us that our Christian hope is grounded not in our circumstances nor the latest spiritual mountaintop experience.
Neither is our hope measured by our attendance, our livestream audience, or other marketing success metrics. Our hope, as it has always been, is founded in the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And that Easter hope–the hope of God breaking through with his healing love, resurrection power, and redemptive grace–is a hope that first arrived in the difficult dread and sorrow of Good Friday.
Our hope as Christians is not about ignoring suffering or difficulty, sadness or sorrow. Our hope is present and alive, even as we are honest about the tragedy of our lives (or the shared communal grief of the last two years).
Lamentations 3:20-24 (ESV) demonstrates that ‘movement of resurrection’ from sorrow to hope:
20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations describes a faithful believer in God who is also suffering with a mental health challenge, likely depression.
The text does not say to ignore, placate or ‘think positively’ out of depression or anxiety. Rather, Scripture calls us to bring our lament before God. We need to make space for healthy lamenting in our lives individually and in our worship services corporately.
Biblical spirituality is not a self-help strategy, but a summons to acknowledge our brokenness before God: to ‘preach to ourselves’ about the faithfulness of God. We recall God’s mercy, his steadfast, covenantal love toward us. But such hope resonates more deeply when we also acknowledge the depth of our need of God.
As we remember what is true, our soul shifts from being ‘bowed down’ in vs. 20 to gazing upward in worship once again in vs. 24. This sort of shift isn’t always easy. It requires hearing and remembering the goodness of God. It requires recalling and being remembered (put back together) by the true story of the Gospel: that night has passed and the day lies before us. That winter has ended and spring has come. That Aslan is on the move. That the death of Good Friday is finally over, and the joy and life of Easter Sunday has dawned.
We need the community of saints to speak and recall and sing and write and paint and dance and herald this hope to a weary and war-torn world. We need Christians in every sphere and sector of society–in the church, the academy, the marketplace, and the home–who can embody such a hope. Who can embody it even as they struggle. Who can say, “Yes, I’m suffering just like you. Yes, there are moments where I truly struggle. But listen: I also know that God is faithful. And my hope is not in vague optimism, but in the assurance of Christ’s resurrection, the Father’s faithful character, and the indwelling comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.”
And may this also be: that for the many of us who are weary with the mantle of church leadership, that we too would hear that resurrection summons. Like Mary, who finds herself weeping in the garden of God’s new creation, may we also hear the voice of the Gardener who knows and speaks our names: summoning us to new life–to the hope we have in the One who is making all things new and will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Nikolas Amodeo lives with his wife, Sarah, and their four boys in Dryden, Ontario.
Nik has served as the lead pastor of Dryden Full Gospel Church since 2012. He holds a bachelor of biblical studies from Eston College and a master of arts in theological studies from Regent College.
Nik is an ordained minister of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada and is passionate about teaching the Bible and spiritual formation.
You’ve walked through a few of those dark days—full of uncertainty and the inability to “shake it off.” It’s a struggle when you feel the hardness of your own heart. Feelings of desperation, ugliness, anger, sadness, loss, and sorrow…
None of us is immune.
And you’ve probably had a few of them. When the sorrow overtakes and you can’t seem to get out of bed—or, you don’t dare to pray because you don’t know what you’ll say.
Then Jesus led his disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.” He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray nearby.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged his soul into agony. And he said to them, “My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and watch with me.” Then he walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, he threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed…
Matthew 26:36-39a TPT
Our beautiful Saviour, crushed with grief, overwhelmed in a garden.
A place of beauty, a valley with a river—do you think He noticed His surroundings?
It was the same garden that David wept in when he left Jerusalem during Absolom’s rebellion. If there was any person in the Bible that knew how to articulate his feelings, with expressions that still resonate today—it was King David.
“When you abide under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. He’s the hope that holds me and the stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence.”
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.””
Psamls 91:1-2 TPT & NKJV
Perhaps, we make the mistake of associating shadows with depression—rather than with God!
Under the shadow of Shaddai—the Hebrew root word for “God the Almighty” (no power greater) or “God of the Mountain” (no place safer). In Him you are hidden, or you “endure through the night.” You can make it!
When it comes to shadows—elementary science teaches us that shadows are created when we block or get in front of the light source. Shadows are not reflections, but they do suggest a “nearness” to light…
You are invited to dwell, and dwelling in His shadow removes the anxiety of your own shadow. Once you dwell you find that He’s the hope that holds you, your confidence, your stronghold, fortress, refuge, and shelter. Could God be any clearer—He wants you under His protection!
“Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.”
Like all things “God” in this life—He flips the meaning. He does want us to live under a shadow—His.