Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Lesson 5

Monday March 23, 2020

17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

Acts 9:17-22 (NRSV)

Growing up with long eyelashes is incredibly frustrating. When I was a kid, I constantly got eyelashes in my eye, and I would become essentially debilitated for a good amount of time while I tried to get the eyelash out of eye, and usually making things worse.

When I had the eyelash in my eye, I couldn’t think of anything else, and the mind of a child quickly forgets what it was like before to see clearly, and to not be distracted by the irritation.

I’m sure that you’ve had times where you have had a stuffy or runny nose, back or neck pain, and though it may have been temporary, when you had those problems, you began to forget what it is like to live without those problems.


Paul had his sight taken away from him after just realizing that although he thought he was serving God – he was actually persecuting people that God loved!

Imagine how it must have felt to have your physical sight taken away. Throughout that time, Paul would have been constantly focusing on his blindness as he stumbled through his daily life, as he prayed, and as he thought.

I imagine him praying something like this: “God, I wish I could see right now. I’m sorry for what I did. Please give me my sight back! I’m sorry”

And then maybe something like this happened as he thought about it longer: “God…Though I thought I could see clearly before, I was actually blind. Though I thought I read your laws well, I was blind to your heart. Though I saw the story of you saving your people over and over again, I was blind to who Jesus is. Though I read about your forgiveness, I was blind to what forgiveness meant until you blinded me with your truth instead of taking my life. I now know that I have a mission, and although I may be physically blind now, I have never seen more clearly!”


For Paul, spending time alone, without the distractions of his own desires and pursuits, was a time where he grew more reliant on God than he ever had before.

Right now, we are beginning to wonder when our country will get back to ‘normal’. Some of us are afraid of our upcoming bills at a time when we are not able to work. And churches across the country are wondering when they can get back together again.

But although this time brings with it a lot of problems, and a lot of worries, I believe that God will meet us in this time in larger ways than we could imagine. This past Sunday, our church had its first ever “virtual service”. We had no prior experience, and our congregation had no more instruction than we could give them in short notice. However, our “congregation” on that Sunday was large in number, and those who responded to the church about what they thought and what they were feeling during this time, warmed the hearts of the church staff because we saw other people’s faith, and it encouraged us in our own faith.

I believe that God wants us all to use this time away from the busyness of life for the betterment of our souls and our character. We could easily slip into worry and bitterness, but just as Paul was transformed while blind, I believe that we are going to be transformed while homebound.

Lets Commit to some actions:

  • Take more time to pray. Commit to a prayer schedule. Do not let fear or bitterness RULE over you – Instead RULE over your fears and bitterness with Prayer – seeking the hope, and peace of God.
  • Begin or end your day with a devotional and scriptural reading (If you have a smartphone, download “The Bible App” from Youversion, and find a reading plan that works for you!
  • Parents – Spiritually lead your children through family prayer time, and family bible reading time. Set the example for them to follow.
  • Parents – Take this time to have family game times – and if they get bored with what you have, grab some paper and some markers from the drawer and make a game together! 🙂
  • If you live alone – invest in your relationship with God, start a new hobby, get to know yourself more, and take advantage of thise time to yourself for your own betterment.
  • Spouses – Go to God in prayer Together, as well as apart from one another. Read a passage from the bible together and ask each other what each of you think. Make date nights at home something to look forward to. Play a card or board game and laugh together.
  • Spend more time in nature while being safe and maintaining social distancing. Over the last few weeks, I have seen more families outside together than ever before – that is a GREAT thing.
  • Above all – Use this time to seek God and love others – even at a distance.


Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Lesson 4

Friday March 20, 2020

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Ephesians 5:1-2a (NLT)

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I found out that the governor of my state was forcing all non-essential businesses to close, and it got to me.

  • What does this mean for our town, state, and nation?
  • What will this do for members of my congregation?
  • Will people that I know be forced to go without pay for an undetermined amount of time?
  • What am I going to do if bills keep coming, but my pay doesn’t?

To worry is a natural human response to stress, but worrying can also be a pointless exercise. How much would I be able to do, laying in bed, in order to address any of the concerns on my minds?

The answer is that I wouldn’t be able to do anything but pray.

But why is prayer often option 2, and worry is option 1?

Because when we are stressed, we want to take control even when its almost impossible to control our situation right then and there. But what is option 1 to stress became seeking God’s help through prayer?

If we are to imitate God, then we have a clear example from Jesus as to how we are to respond to life’s pressure’s and worries – Prayer and Love.

Multiple times throughout Christ’s ministry on earth, He excused himself from the group and went off into nature to pray. Some of these times were in the middle of people demanding so much from him that He and his disciples were chased down from place to place. But still, Jesus excused himself to pray.

Why?

Because praying focused Him in his love towards His Father, and prayer grounded him and gave him the energy that He needed to love others well, even when he was stressed or worried.

We may be worried about things now, but do we turn to prayer first in order to love God, ourselves, and others despite our worries and fears?

Please look for Lesson 5 on Monday

Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Lesson 2

Wednesday March 18, 2020

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:31-35 (NRSV)

In this passage, we see Jesus, who was in the middle of teaching a group of His followers, being interrupted by a request from his own family to speak with Him. His response to their request was with a question: “Who are my mother and my brothers?”, followed by a statement, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

I feel as though if any one of us said something like that in response to our family wanting to speak with us, we would be lectured by our mother to show a little respect.

But why did his family make the journey together about a days travel on foot from Nazareth to Capernaum where Jesus was teaching?

In the same chapter of Mark, verse 21 reads: “When his family heard it [that Jesus was healing people and casting out demons], they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.'”

Christ’s family traveled to Capernaum, and wanted to speak with Him, because they were concerned about Him, but they also made that journey because they struggled with the reality of who Jesus, their son and brother, was.

Therefore, when Jesus was told that his family was outside waiting for Him, He knew why they were there, and He had to send the message that although He loved them, that He was on a mission now, and that His prime concern was following the Will of God, the Father, and serving those within the Family of God, which was becoming much larger than before.


Pastors around the nation, and in other countries around the world, are struggling with knowing what the Will of God is at a time when they have decided to close the doors of the church building in order to protect their congregation and their community. Over the last week, I have seen church leaders have to make significant decisions in a matter of hours and days, and all of us are trying to think of ways to connect with people in a meaningful way when we cannot see them face to face.

What this passage today teaches us is that though we all may be separated, that we are all still brothers and sisters within the Family of God through Jesus Christ.

Church leaders are working just as hard, if not harder, to make sure that we connect with our members and with our community at this time.

Parents are working just as hard, if not harder, to care for their families and to lead them in prayer.

And individuals are praying just as much, if not more, than before.

What is God calling you to do to make the best of this situation?

How can you continue to share the message and love of God to others?