Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Lesson 6

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

And now, brothers, I want to write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of you, for I don’t want any misunderstanding about them. 2 You will remember that before you became Christians you went around from one idol to another, not one of which could speak a single word. 3 But now you are meeting people who claim to speak messages from the Spirit of God. How can you know whether they are really inspired by God or whether they are fakes? Here is the test: no one speaking by the power of the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him. 4 Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6 There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. 7 The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

1 Corinthians 12:1-7 (The Living Bible)

A devotional from Pastor Joyce of First UCC – Quakertown, PA:

To suggest that our lives have changed over the last couple of weeks is one of the biggest understatements ever made.  Almost no part of our lives is quite the same. And yet, we are to continue on, knowing that there is one thing that hasn’t changed – and that is God’s love for us.  Because God loves us unconditionally, we can show our gratitude by passing on some of that love to others. But how do we do that when we are confined to our homes, with little contact with others?  Today’s scripture lesson helps us, I think. We all have at least one spiritual gift, and many of us have more than one. Yet how can we exercise our spiritual gifts when we are separated from one another?

Here’s one idea.  Most of us have a church directory containing the names of members and friends of First Church.  Each day, choose a person from the directory and pray for them. They may be someone you know well, or they may be almost a stranger.  It doesn’t matter. You can still pray for them. And then, if you are feeling really inspired, call that person (their phone number is right there) and let them know you are praying for them.  I can almost guarantee that this will be a day brightener to that person. My guess is that you will be able to hear them smile! Such an act will help spread the joy we have because we are all children of God.

And I can almost guarantee it will brighten your day as well – to be in prayer for another, knowing that you are using one of the spiritual gifts God, through the Holy Spirit, has given you.  That is a truly awesome feeling – because we will be working for our awesome God. Feel the joy!

– Pastor Joyce

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 3

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Apostle Paul to the Philippian Church:
7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

Philippians 3:7-11 (The Message)

My first professional interview was for a paid internship at an accounting and consulting firm in Allentown, PA back in 2013. A few weeks before the interview, I went to the mall and invested in a complete suit to wear, and I was assured that once the suit was tailored after my fitting that I was going to look my best.

The time came for me to pick up my investment in my future, and I tried the suit on in the store, and was assured by the clerk that it fit me well. On the morning of the interview, I dressed up in my suit, shirt, and tie, and discovered that it actually looked like I was wearing a cardboard box with a suit laid over top of it. The suit did not fit well, and I felt like a child trying on some of my Dad’s clothes.

Thankfully, I pushed past my insecurities, and attained that internship – despite wasting money on a suit that I’m now embarrassed to own. It wasn’t really ever about the suit; it was about the person within the suit.


In the passage for today, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church of Philippi describing how he had ‘bragging rights’ that he could use to back up what he was telling them, just like how other religious leaders of the day kept saying that they followed the laws of God. Paul, before he accepted that Jesus was the Messiah, was a strict oberser of the law of God, a respected religious leader, and was even willing to hunt down the Christians in order to lock them up, or have them be killed (Acts 9:1-19).

But then Paul discovered that although he invested a lot of his time into following a strict code of laws, THINKING that he was doing so to honor God, he actually was going against the heart of God by hating groups of people that God came to save. Paul began to see that all of his pride in doing all of the “right” things before was worthless in comparison with actually following and listening to the heart of God that Christ came to share with the world.


Sometimes we do our best to put our best foot forward and to do all of the right things, but if we aren’t seeking to follow the will AND heart of God in our faith, and in our relationship with other people, our efforts won’t be as great as we thought they would be; they’d be like that terribly fitting suit I got all those years ago – it may have seemed great at first, but later, you realise that its not about what we wear, or what we do – Its about who God is, and who we have become after being transformed by God, just as Paul was transformed from his old life, to his new life in Christ.


Take a moment to thank God for all that he has done for you.

Take a moment to pray for God to give you hope and peace.

Pray to the Lord to give you wisdom and courage to help share the love of God to those around you.

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?

Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Lesson 1

Tuesday 3/17/2020

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25-27 (NRSV)

I can’t help but worry about my family during this times of uncertainty. Could my parents be out of work? Will my grandmother, who is in her 90s, be exposed to the virus at a point in her life where even the common cold would be dangerous?

And even if this whole thing is not as bad as we think it will be, because of the precautions we are taking, what will this do for families and communities around the world?

Some of us are around our families more than we normally would be as businesses and restaurants are closed because our country is seeking to halt the spread of COVID-19. While each family member will need their own space during this time together, this is also an opportunity for families to grow closer to one another through family game and movie nights, intentional conversations about dreams and passions, and even a time to read books together, to pray together, and have a time for family Bible reading.

Some of us would like to see our families who don’t live with us, but feel as though visiting them could risk exposure to either them, or us. This is incredibly hard for us because these are also the times that we want to spend time with our families the most. But we can still connect with them through calling them, through video-messaging them, and through text and email. Perhaps this time could teach us a rhythm of connecting with them that we did not have before. Even when disconnected, we can still laugh with them, cry with them, pray with them, and read the Bible with them.

Sometimes, we are tempted to think that God isn’t all that concerned about our everyday worries, or emotions, because we convince ourselves that God has more important things to do. Yet even in Christ’s last moments on the cross, though He knew He would be back again from the dead, Jesus knew the importance of family; specifically, he knew that one of his best friends, and his own mother, needed one another, and He did not want either of them to feel alone.

In this time of uncertainty, know that Christ cares about you and your family. But also know that He cares about YOU and that no matter what, God is with you, and you can speak with God through prayer.

Devotionals During the COVID-19 Crisis: Introduction

In light of the need for First UCC – Quakertown to not offer in-person worship services because of the prevention efforts we are making to protect our community from Covid-19, our church has decided to offer our people with Lenten devotionals.

It is important to us to seek to connect with our congregation in whatever ways that we can during this time. While we cannot promise to be providing a devotionals for all of the dates and passages below, we would like to try to provide something, and any who are willing can follow the schedule with us.

We are following a schedule of readings for lent put together by Carol Geisler from Creative Communications, which you can see in the chart below.

DateDate of weekPassage
3/17/2020TuedayJohn 19:25-27
3/18/2020WednesdayMark 3:31-35
3/19/2020ThursdayPhilippians 3:4-9
3/20/2020FridayEphesians 3:4-9
3/21/2020Saturday1 John 3:1-3
3/22/2020SundayActs 9:1-6
3/23/2020MondayActs 9:17-22
3/24/2020Tueday1 Cor. 12:1-7
3/25/2020Wednesday1 Cor. 1:18-25
3/26/2020ThursdayRomans 6:1-4
3/27/2020FridayRomans 12:1-2
3/28/2020SaturdayPhilippians 4:4-9
3/29/2020SundayActs 16:11-15
3/30/2020MondayEphesians 1:15-23
3/31/2020Tueday2 Cor. 5:19-21
4/1/2020WednesdayLuke 24:46-49
4/2/2020ThursdayPsalm 51:1-12
4/3/2020FridayHebrews 3:12-15
4/4/2020SaturdayRomans 5:1-5
4/5/2020SundayLuke 19:28-40
4/6/2020MondayHebrews 10:5-10
4/7/2020TuedayPsalm 40:6-8
4/8/2020WednesdayPsalm 143:9-10
4/9/2020ThursdayMatthew 26:36-46
4/10/2020FridayJohn 19:28-30
4/11/2020SaturdayJohn 19:38-42
4/12/2020SundayMatthew 28:1-10
http://www.creativecommunications.com