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 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: 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