Daily Devotions

Today we deal with the new reality of the coronavirus and how it is impacting our lives, our communities and our world. As people of faith, we are called to courage and compassion and we are called to let our light shine! We offer you devotions based on Faith Inkubators’ Faith5™  that will help us stay connected and keep our lights burning. This is a simple, 5-step daily devotion that can be used by families gathered together, by friends over the phone, or by individuals in their homes.


Devotions for the Week of November 23

We continue our Faith Five Devotions based on the Virtual Sunday School Lessons taken from the book, The Story for Children – a Storybook Bible. We continue with portions of the second account of creation in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Genesis in which God is referred to as “Lord God.” Last week we saw God creating over a period of seven days, with humans, male and female, being created on the sixth day after which God rested. In the second story God makes the man first and puts him in a garden. So let’s see what happens.

 

Monday – Tuesday, November 23 & 24

Numbers 13:1-3, 17-26

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites;  from each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.’ So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them leading men among the Israelites. Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, ‘Go up there into the Negeb, and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the towns that they live in are unwalled or fortified, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land.’ Now it was the season of the first ripe grapes. At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kedesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*Moses has led the people from Egypt to the boarder of the Promised Land which God has planned to give to the people for a homeland. But of course they needed to check it out before they all moved into a land that was already occupied by other peoples. So God told Moses to send spies into the land on a reconnaissance mission and bring back their report. Moses chose 12 men, each representing one of the tribes of Israel who set out to explore the land.

*Have you even been responsible for evaluating something for a group of people? It is a big responsibility. What do you think went through the minds of the leaders as they left the security they had as a group to explore a new place that was going to be their home? What were they told they were to check out about this new place?

*If you were moving to a new home what would you be looking for about the place that would make you want to move? What things would make you not want to move?

*How long were they gone? What did they bring back to show the people when they returned?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Wednesday – Thursday, November 25 & 26

Numbers 13:25-33

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan.’ But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Then the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we.’ So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’ Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become booty; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*When they returned how did the leaders describe the land where they had been?  What did they find to be positives and what did they see as negatives?

*They were not all of the same opinion about what they should do. What did Caleb say they should do? Have you ever shared your opinion about something and then found that everyone else felt totally different than you did? What did you do?

*What did the others say about the land they were to go into and how was their view received?  What did they say would happen if they went into the new land?

*How did they feel about Moses and Aaron and what did they want to do?   It is important to remember that Moses is following God’s plan for the Hebrew people who he bought out of slavery in Egypt. God has been directing this rescue mission. How do you think God felt about the reaction of the people?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.


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Friday – Saturday, November 27 & 28

Numbers 14: 5-10, 13a, 19-24, 34-35

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the Israelites. And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the Israelites, ‘The land that we went through as spies is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only, do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they are no more than bread for us, their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’ But the whole congregation threatened to stone them. But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have pardoned this people, from Egypt even until now.’ Then the Lord said, ‘I do forgive, just as you have asked, nevertheless – as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord – none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors, none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure. I the Lord have spoken; surely I will do thus to all this wicked congregation gathered together against me; in the wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*We see in this scene a tension between two groups. There are the 10 spies who went into the Promised Land and came back telling the people negative and bad things about it, and then there are Caleb and Joshua who see the positive and good that can come to them from entering the land. In light of past months of tensions and viewpoints being expressed in our country, these exchanges between the sides sounds very familiar.

*What emotion do the leaders who don’t want to go into the land appeal to in the people? Are they telling the truth? Where do they want to go instead? (Back to the way things were.)

*What do Caleb and Joshua say about the land? To whom do they say the people should put their trust in?

*How do the people respond to their message? We get a real feel for the emotions running through this story that result in panic and violence. (Way too familiar!)

*God’s reaction to this is to threaten them with “pestilence” and “disinheritance.” What does Moses ask God to do? What does God then do?

*All actions have consequences, and they certainly do for the people in this moment. What does God decide will be the fate of these rebellious people? How does he determine how many years they will wander in the wilderness? Of those in the story, who is going to get into the Promised Land and why?  As we see, God does not abandon the people no matter how often they fail, but often it changes the timeline in which their goal is reached.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of November 16

Exodus 20

This week’s lesson comes straight from the mountaintop. Moses spends time with God on Mount Sinai and is given two tablets with the Ten Commandments to share with the people of Israel, new rules for Holy living. Take time to read and reflect this week on how these Ten Commandments connect us to our relationship with God, family and neighbors.

 

Monday – Tuesday, November 16 & 17

Exodus 20: 1-7

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations, of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your god, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What is God saying to the people of Israel when he gives Moses the Ten Commandments?

* In these first three Commandments what is God saying about how God wants the relationship to be with His people?

*How does God show Love and caring for the people of Israel?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Wednesday – Thursday, November 18 & 19

Exodus 20: 8-12

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day, therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*Why is resting on the Sabbath day important to God?

*How does resting and making time for God on Sunday with worship grow your relationship with God and your family?

*Why does God say that it is important to honor and show respect to your parents/grandparents?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Friday – Saturday, November 20 & 21

Exodus 20: 8-12

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*Why do think that God has given us these set of 10 Commandments?

*How does this part of the 10 Commandments show love to God and our neighbors?

*Jesus summed up all the Commandments when he said to “Love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” What does this mean to you?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


 

Devotions for the Week of November 9 – 13

Signs and Wonders

Exodus 7:14 – 14:31

We continue our Faith Five Bible Study to go along with our Virtual Sunday School classes. Our lessons will be the Bible Stories and we will use a book called The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible. This week’s story is, is once again, about Moses.

 

Monday – Tuesday, November 9 & 10

Exodus 6:2-9

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “God also spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name “The Lord” I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” ’Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* It took a while, but Moses follows God’s command and returns to Egypt. He and his brother, Aaron, go to Pharaoh and ask him to let the people go. Now, remember, Pharaoh knows Moses, a Hebrew who grew up in the Pharaoh’s own home. Pharaoh is not impressed and decided that he will lay an even heavier burden on the Hebrew slaves. Much of their work is to build with bricks they make with mud and straw. Have you ever tried to make a brick out of mud and straw? We did it in Vacation Bible Study when my kids were young. You get a nice puddle of mud ready and add straw until it can be formed and dried in the sun. Pharaoh’s punishment was to take away the straw for making bricks. Why would this have been such a cruel punishment?

*How do you think the Hebrew slaves feel about Moses’ efforts to help them? But God is just beginning to work through Moses. God comes to Moses and again tells him that God is the one who established the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God tells Moses to go to the people and tell them that God has heard their cries and will free them from slavery. How do you think Moses was feeling at this time? How would you feel if you were Moses?

*Moses does do what God commands, “But they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.” When we feel particularly sad and low, is it hard to hope for things to change? Think about or discuss why.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, November 11 & 12

Exodus 12:1-13

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*Moses goes back to Pharaoh and tells him that if he does not let the Israelites (Hebrews) go, terrible things will happen to the Egyptians and their land. Pharaoh doesn’t budge. God sends 10 Plagues down on Egypt. The water turned to blood, there was hail, darkness, frogs, boils, etc. But after 9 of these disasters, Pharaoh still stubbornly refused to let the people go. Then came the 10th Plague. Moses warned Pharaoh that unless he let the Israelites go, the firstborn of all the Egyptians would die. But this plague would not affect the Israelites who were given instructions for the Passover. They were to kill and eat a lamb and put some of the blood over the doorposts. They were to eat in a hurry, no leaven for the bread. They were to be ready to leave Egypt immediately.

*The Passover is still celebrated by the Jewish people today, to remember that the angel of death passed over the Israelites. It is the story of God’s saving action for the people. Passover usually comes near our celebration of Easter. Many Christian Churches celebrate a Passover meal (Seder) on Maundy Thursday. Jesus was celebrating the Passover before his arrest, when he gave us the gift of Holy Communion. Why is it called Passover? Have you ever experienced a Seder (Passover Meal)? If so, talk or think about what it was like.

*How do you think that the Israelites were feeling about this time? They had seen the terrible plagues that happened to the Egyptians. Now, these instructions for this meal. Do you think they were scared or excited? Do you think that they thought God would really free them from slavery?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, November 13 & 14

Exodus 14:8-9, 19-23, 26-31

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “9The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord.19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*Take some time to think about or talk about how exciting it must have been for the people of Israel to finally leave slavery and Egypt. Can you think of a time when you have been super excited about something wonderful happening? Talk about it or think about it. But just when they reach the sea, they realize that Pharaoh had changed his mind and was chasing them with his chariots and army. Oh, my! How do you think they reacted? Do you think that they trusted God or Moses in that moment? Well, they didn’t. They panicked and lashed out against Moses. But Moses trusted in God. What did God do to help the people escape from the Egyptians?

*As the Israelites begin their journey to the promised land, God is with them in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. How do you suppose the Israelites were comforted by that? Talk or think about how God has been with you, especially during difficult times.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


 

Faith Five Devotion

Devotions for the Week of November 2

Moses Becomes a Leader  Exodus 1 – 4

We continue our Faith Five Bible Study to go along with our Virtual Sunday School classes. Our lessons will be the Bible Stories and we will use a book called The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible. This week’s story is about Moses.


Monday – Tuesday, November 2 & 3

Exodus 1:8-14, 22

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “ 8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them…
22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* When we left the Book of Genesis, Joseph and his brothers were reconciled and the whole family came to live in Egypt. Because of Joseph’s work for the Pharaoh, the Hebrews were given choice land to settle on. But as Exodus begins, several hundred years have passed and the Egyptians have forgotten what Joseph did for them. And the Hebrew population has grown and grown. The Pharaoh begins to worry about these foreigners, these “others.” Think about or talk about how fear of those who are different has shaped human history. (You might want to think about how the Jews were treated in Nazi Germany or people of color and indigenous people in our own country.)

* Why might it be easy to fear people who are different than us? Have you ever had a “difference” that caused people to treat you differently?

* Pharaoh made the Hebrews his slaves and they were treated harshly. What questions do you think the Hebrews were asking of God? Pharaoh’s fear of the Hebrews was so great that he feared the boys would grow up to fight against him. So he ordered all the baby boys to be drowned in the River Nile. How can we, as followers of Jesus, stand up for those who are different from us?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, November 4 & 5

Exodus 2:1-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 1Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Many of us are familiar with the story of Moses. When he was born to Hebrew parents, they tried to hide him so that he would not be drowned in the Nile. When he was 3 months old his mother put him in a waterproof basket and sent him down the river, hoping for the best. His sister followed the basket until the daughter of the Egyptian Pharoah saw it and found the crying baby. Even though she knew Moses was a Hebrew baby, she decided to raise the child herself. But she would need a helper until the baby was older. Moses’ sister suggested to the Pharoah’s daughter, her own mother. And Pharoah’s daughter agreed to pay her to care for the baby until he was older. How do you see God working through all these events? Do you suppose that this is all part of God’s plan? How?

* When Moses was older, his mother gave him up to the care of the Pharoah’s daughter. What might have helped her to give up her son? So Moses, a Hebrew, grew up in the household of the Pharoah. What advantages did that give him? How would that have been a difficult way to grow up?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.


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Friday – Saturday, November 6 & 7

Exodus 3:1-6, 9-15

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 1Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God…

9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

13But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, ” I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘ I AM has sent me to you.'” 15God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:  This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Moses is a grown man in these verses. He has run away from Egypt because he got in trouble with both the Hebrew people and the Egyptians. He married and became a shepherd for his father-in-law, Jethro. Many years go by and by now, Moses must think that his life will continue peacefully as a shepherd in Midian. But God has another plan for Moses. Moses sees a bush. It is burning but yet not burning up. He goes to check it out and God calls to him. God tells Moses that the place where he is standing is holy ground. To say that something is holy is to say that it is set apart, it is special. We all have “holy ground” in our lives, places that are special, places that help us know God and feel God’s presence. Think about or talk about the holy ground in your life. What are those places? Why are they special?

* God has a special plan for Moses. What is it? What is Moses’ reaction? Why do you think that Moses tried to get out of doing what God wanted him to do? Have you ever been asked to do something that you knew was going to be hard? What was it? Did you try to get out of it? What did you end up doing?

* What does God promise Moses? Moses asks God to tell him his name so that when he goes to the Hebrews he can tell them the name of the God who is going to help them. What is God’s reply, what is God’s name? What do you think of God’s name? (Jesus will often use this name in John’s Gospel when he says things like, “I am the light of the world,” or “I am the resurrection and the life.”)

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of October 26


Monday – Tuesday, October 26 & 27

Genesis 42: 1-5

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don’t you do something? I hear that there is grain in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” So Joseph’s ten half brothers went to buy grain in Egypt, but Jacob did not send Joseph’s full brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What is the reason that Jacob sends Joseph’s brothers to Egypt?

* What might God be doing in this part of the story of Joseph?

* Do you have a time in your life that you felt led by God to do something? What was that and how did you feel?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, October 28 & 29

Genesis 45: 1-4

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Joseph was no longer able to control his feelings in front of his servants, so he ordered all to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the king’s palace. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But when his brothers heard this, they were so terrified that they could not answer. ‘Please come closer.’ They did, and he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, who you sold into Egypt.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What is Joseph feeling in this moment?

* His emotions of missing his father and brothers come forth as he let out his sadness in big tears! Have you ever had sad moments in your life?

* What helps you get through sad times?

* God definitely cares about our sad times and loves you! Talk about that as a family.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Friday – Saturday, October 30 & 31

Genesis 45: 5-9

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save peoples lives. This is only the second year of the famine in the land; there will be five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor reaping. God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure you and your descendants survive. So it is not really you who sent me here, but God. He has made me the king’s highest official. I am in charge of his whole country; I am the ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and tell him that this is what his son Joseph says; God has made me ruler of all Egypt; come to me without delay.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What does Joseph tell his brothers as he shares a moment of honesty and forgiveness?

* Who does Joseph say is the one who sent him to Egypt? His Brothers, or God?

* Why did God send Joseph to Egypt?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


We continue our Faith Five Bible Study to go along with our Virtual Sunday School classes. Our lessons will be the Bible Stories and we will use a book called The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible.  This week’s story is about Joseph.

Abraham to Joseph – We better take a few minutes to talk about what happened to Abraham’s and Sarah’s family after last week. Last week we learned that Abraham and Sarah did have a baby, Isaac. God’s Covenant will pass on to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah and they have twin sons, Esau and Jacob. We find out right away that the Covenant will carry on through Jacob, but that seems like a poor choice. Jacob is a trickster and a cheat. He tricks his brother and ends up having to run away from home. He ends up at the home of his relative, Laban. And falls in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. But Jacob, the trickster, meets an even more deceptive man in Laban. Laban tells Jacob that if he works for seven years, he can marry Rachel. But at the wedding, Laban substitutes his elder daughter, Leah. Because of the veil, Jacob marries the wrong girl. But it is arranged that Jacob can also marry Rachel right away, but he will have to work for an additional 7 years. Jacob has children with his two wives and also the 2 servants of his wives. He has twelve sons and one daughter. Finally, he leaves Laban’s house, returns to his home country and reconciles with his brother. Jacob also spends a night “wrestling with God.” And God changes his name from Jacob to Israel. And that is where our story picks up today.

 

Devotions for the Week of October 19

Monday – Tuesday, October 19 & 20

Genesis 37:1 – 11

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. 4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.’ 8His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.9 He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, ‘Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ 10But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, ‘What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?’ 11So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Meet Joseph. You might have heard of his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (though our Bible simply describes it as a long robe with sleeves). Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children. Jacob may have felt this way about Joseph because he was the first child born to his beloved wife, Rachel. (Jacob and Rachel will have one more son, Benjamin.) When there is favoritism in a family it often leads to trouble. If you have brothers or sisters have you or any of them ever said, “Mom loves so and so best.” How does that jealousy cause brothers and sisters to act? If you were Joseph’s brothers, how would you feel about your little brother?

* Let’s face it, Joseph is spoiled. He has also been given a gift from God. He can interpret dreams. But he is only 17 and really does not know how to respond to his own dreams. What two dreams did Joseph have? What do you think those dreams meant? How did his brothers react? How did his father react?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, October 21 & 22

Genesis 37:12 – 24

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ 14So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ 16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’ 17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ 21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ 22Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. 28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Oh dear! Things get worse for Joseph and his brothers. His father sends Joseph out to the fields to see how his brothers are doing. They are shepherds and are tending their flocks. They see brother Joseph coming. Talk about or think about how Joseph’s brothers felt about him and why? What is it that they want to do to him? They want to murder their own brother!

* Brother Reuben steps in to try to save Joseph. What does he suggest that they do to Joseph? Why do you think that Reuben tries to save Joseph’s life?

* Reuben is the oldest of Jacob’s children. Talk about or think about birth order in your own family. Who is the oldest child? Who is the youngest? I had 3 younger brothers when I was growing up. Sometimes, being the oldest was great and I felt special. Often it came with the responsibility to look after my little brothers. Talk about or think about how birth order in your family has played out. How do first born kids feel? How do the younger siblings feel? When Reuben is not with the group of brothers, they actually sell Joseph to some traders passing by. While my brothers and I were known to argue, I never threw them in a pit or sold them to passing Ishmaelites.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, October 23 & 24

Genesis 37:29 – 36

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ 31Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ 33He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’ 34Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days. 35All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father bewailed him. 36Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* When Reuben finds out what has happened to Joseph, he is really upset. When we read that he tore his clothes, that means that he is mourning his brother for being as good as dead. What do you think that Reuben should have done at this point? What would you have done if you were Reuben? What did Reuben do?

* It is interesting that when we first do something wrong, we can end up doing more and more bad things just to cover up our actions. Can you think of a time that you did something wrong, and instead of just telling the truth, you tried to cover up with lies? How did you feel? What happened? What do Reuben and the brothers do?

* Meanwhile, Joseph has been taken to Egypt and sold to an Egyptian, named Potiphar. Next week we will see how something that was so evil and nasty, can be turned around by God to be a part of God’s plan for the family of Jacob. God will not forget poor Joseph, but will continue to be with him.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


We continue our Faith Five Bible Study to go along with our Virtual Sunday School classes. Our lessons will be the Bible Stories and we will use a book called The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible. This week’s story is about Abraham.

 

Devotions for the Week of October 12

Monday – Tuesday, October 12 & 13

Genesis 12:11-9

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. 9And Abram journeyed on by stages towards the Negeb.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* God is asking a lot of Abraham! How would you feel if God came to you and said, pack up your family and leave your home? What would you have answered? What questions would you have had for God?

* Notice that God does not even tell Abraham where he is to go – just that God will show him the way. Abraham does what God asks him to do. Why do you think that Abraham did it? Has it ever been hard for you to let God show you the way you should go?

* God also makes promises to Abraham – big promises. What are they? The most important of these promises was that Abraham would become a great nation. That means that Abraham would have many descendants. He and his wife were getting on in years and did not have any children. Why do you think this promise was so important? Do you think that Abraham and Sarah believed God’s promise? Notice that at this point in our story Abraham and Sarah are called Abram and Sarai.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, October 14 & 15

Genesis 15:1-6

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Well, Abraham has been on his journey for several chapters now and not much has changed. He and Sarah still do not have a child. When God takes him outside and points to the sky and tells him he will have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, how do you think Abraham felt? Remember, he is 75 years old!

* How hard would it have been for Abraham and Sarah to trust God’s promises? How hard can it be for us to trust God’s promises? Think about or talk about a time that it was really hard to believe what God has promised us.

* Notice that in our verses, our hero and heroine are called Abram and Sarai. God will change their names to Abraham and Sarah in chapter 17. At that point, Abraham is 99 years old. Still no child of their own! But God makes a covenant with Abraham. A covenant is an agreement. Sometimes a covenant means that both parties make promises. But in God’s covenant with Abraham, only God makes promises. God makes the same promises that God made when God called Abraham to follow. Talk or think about the times you made a promise to someone. What was the promise?  And did you keep the promise?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, October 16 & 17

Genesis 21:1-7

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

 “The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. 2Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. 4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6Now Sarah said, ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ 7And she said, ‘Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* Hooray! Abraham and Sarah have had a son – Isaac! Abraham was 100 years old, but God kept God’s promises! Now, from just reading our verses for this week, you might think that Sarah and Abraham were totally confident that God would keep all God’s promises to them. But that is just not the case! Abraham and Sarah were towering examples of faith in God’s promises. But, just like us, they were not perfect. Several times, they went their own way instead of trusting God to lead them. If you look at chapter 12, after Abraham meets God, you will see that when they traveled to Egypt, they became afraid and lied and said that Sarah was Abraham’s sister. It did not go well. And even worse, they didn’t wait for God to fulfill God’s promise of a child.  They just could not believe it, so they took matters into their own hands. Abraham, in a desperate attempt to have a child, had a child with Sarah’s maid, Hagar. Again, it did not go well.

* Every time they tried to take things in their own hands, every time they failed to trust God, it did not go well. God promises us that we are God’s own beloved children. God promises that God will forgive us and never stop loving us. Talk or think about a time when you had trouble believing those promises? It can be hard to trust God, especially when times get tough. Talk or think about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your faith. What has been easy? What has been hard?

* One important thing to remember is that even though Abraham and Sarah doubted that God would or could keep God’s promises, God always did! God never stopped loving them and leading them, even though they were not always so faithful. What does this tell us about our God?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


This week’s lesson is about Noah and his family and how God saved them from the “Great Flood.” God calls Noah to a life of trust and faithfulness. It would seem, that God’s Love and Grace is at the center of all this journey!

Devotions for the Week of October 5

 

Monday-Tuesday, October 5 & 6

Genesis 7: 1-5

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of birds male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.’ And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What is God’s command to Noah?

* How does he accomplish the building of the Ark and the gathering of all the animals and birds? Who helps Noah?

* Trusting and faithfulness seems to be the common message for Noah and his family. How have you and your family been able to trust and be faithful during this time in your life?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday-Thursday, October 7 & 8

Genesis 8:6-12

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“At the end of the forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf, so Noah knew the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited seven days and sent out a dove; and it did not return to him anymore.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What did Noah do to find out if the earth had dried out?

* Have you had to do something many times before it worked?

* How did it feel when things finally worked out?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday-Saturday, October 9 & 10

Genesis 9: 12-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds; I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds; I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* What covenant did God make with Noah and his family?

* When was a time that you felt very safe and thankful after a big storm?

* The next time you see a rainbow in the sky, remember the story of Noah and God’s covenant.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


We continue our Faith Five Devotions based on the Virtual Sunday School Lessons taken from the book, The Story for Children – a Storybook Bible. We continue with potions of the second account of creation in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Genesis in which God is referred to as “Lord God.” Last week we saw God creating over a period of seven days, with humans, male and female, being created on the sixth day after which God rested. In the second story God makes the man first and puts him in a garden. So let’s see what happens.

Devotions for the Week of September 28

 

Monday – Tuesday, September 28 & 29

Genesis 2:7-9, 15-23

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . . The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man. ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’ Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* How does God go about making a human being? The raw material is the dust of the ground (adamah in Hebrew) and what animates him, causing him to be a living being, is the breath of God breathed into his nostrils. What does beginning with the creation of a human being tell you about the focus of this creation story?

* What does being made out of dirt say about our relationship to the earth on which we live? Take deep breaths and think about how God is present in each breath.

* The creation focuses on the garden rather than the larger elements of the universe. At this point there is only one human being and God places him in the garden. What do you think the purpose of the garden is? What is the human being to do in the garden?

* Is there total freedom in the garden, or are their limits on what the human being can do? How do you feel when you are told you can’t do something? (Don’t touch the red button!) What are the consequences if you do? What would happen to the man if he did what God told him not to do?

* God is concerned about the one human being he has made. What is God’s concern, and how does he plan to solve the problem? At this point the animals come into being, and the human names them all. Does God’s plan to find a helper work?

* How does God finally solve the need for a “helper as the human’s partner?” Why do you think this solution works?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, September 30 & October 1

Genesis 3:1-7

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent. ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • The beginning of chapter 3 presents the part of the story that attempts to answer the question of why the relationship between God and God’s creation fell apart, “The Fall.” There is a lot of meaning to pull out of the story of the fall in Genesis 3. We might see it as a story about how insecurity and a lack of trust cause us to understand and assess our lives not through the abundance we have been given by God, but instead by what we feel we still lack.

* Did the man and the woman lack anything?

* What is the temptation you find in the story? What does the serpent say will happen if they eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? With the serpent’s words going through her mind, how did it twist her thinking as she looked at the tree? Have you ever been tempted by the desire to have something that looked like it would be so great?

* What was the bottom line of the temptation that the serpent held out to the woman? What does it mean to be a creature, a created being, rather than being the creator, God? 4. What are the results for human beings when we know good and evil? It a good thing?

* What were the feelings of the man and woman when they realized what they had done? Have you ever done something you knew you shouldn’t have done? If you did, how did it feel? Does it still make you feel bad?

* What did the man and the woman do?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other

 

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Friday – Saturday, October 2 & 3

Genesis 3:8-13, 20-24

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”. . . . The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever;’ – therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

* How would you describe the relationship between God, and the man and woman before they ate the fruit? What changed after, and how did they act toward God? What kind of relationship do we have with God?

* When God asks them if they have done what they were not supposed to do, what is their immediate reaction? Have you ever tried to blame someone else for the trouble you were in? (It wasn’t me!)

* Did God stop caring for the man and the woman? What did God do for them?

* What is God afraid they will do next? In order to avoid this from happening, he drives them out of the garden. What does this mean for how they will have to live compared to the way things were in the garden?

* How does God make sure they will not come back to the garden?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other

 


Exciting News! Our Virtual Sunday School classes have begun. Our lessons will be the Bible Stories and we will use a book called The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible. Our Faith Five will use those Bible Stories. But in the two weeks leading up to then, we will be taking a look at Matthew 18 which includes the Gospel lessons for the upcoming Sundays.

Just a word about the 2 creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis. Yup, I said two. The first account takes up all of chapter 1 and the first few verses of chapter 2.  The second account is the rest of chapter 2. Scholars think that the 2 accounts were written hundreds of years apart and at very different times in the life of God’s people. Our The Story for Children – A Storybook Bible pretty seamlessly combines the two into one account. But look at the different names used for God. In the first account, God is used. In the second account, Lord God is used. So how can this be? The two accounts even differ on the details. Which is the true story? Well, it is important to realize that while, in our day and age we want to know how something happened, for the people of the Bible, the important question was why something happened. Both accounts answer that question, and that answer is all about our relationship to God, not a scientific account of creation.

 

Devotions for the Week of September 21

Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

The Creation

 

Monday – Tuesday, September 21 & 22

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.

Some thoughts to consider:

*When God begins the creation, “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.”  What must that have been like?

* It was a dark, chaotic nothingness. What did God create first?

* Now here is the important question:  how did God “create?” God created using the power of God’s Word! Now, I don’t know about you, but when I talk, my words definitely don’t bring anything into being. What kind of picture of God’s power does this paint for you?

* Open your Bible to John 1. Notice that Jesus Christ is called the Word. This concept of God’s Word is very important in our Bible.

* What did God think about the light that God had created? Why is light so important to us? What would happen if there was no light?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Wednesday – Thursday, September 23 & 24

Genesis 1:6-25

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*Creation continues with the power of God’s Word. List, in order what God created on each day. Notice that God calls everything created – Good. What does it say about God’s creation? What does it say about God?

* Take some time to appreciate God’s creation. Go for a walk, or a drive, or just look out the window. What do you See? Hear? Smell?

* What is your favorite place in God’s creation? Why is that place important to you? How is being outside in God’s beautiful creation a gift for us?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

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Friday – Saturday, September 25 & 26

Genesis 1:26 – 2:3

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*We pick up our account of God’s creation in the middle of day 6. God is about to create something pretty special – Us! On the sixth day God created humankind. When God creates humankind, we read that humans are given “dominion” over the rest of creation. That is actually a poor translation of a word that more appropriately means, “take care of.” We hear so much on the news about how climate change is threatening lives and livelihood. As I write this the fires are raging in the West and a hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. Talk or think about how humankind has cared for the earth. Have we taken care of God’s Good Creation? What can each of us do to be good stewards of God’s creation?

* There is something very special about the creation of humans. God says that we were created in the image of God. What do you suppose that might mean? It doesn’t mean that we look like God or have God’s power. But it does mean that we are able to come into relationship with creation, each other, and most especially, God. How does being created in the image of God change how we think about each other? About God?

* One more thing:  notice that when God saw everything that was created, including humankind, God didn’t just call it Good, but called it Very Good.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of September 14

 

Monday – Tuesday, September 14 & 15

 Matthew 20:1-7

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*In this passage Jesus shares another parable about what the kingdom of heaven is like. The setup for the story starts with a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. The temptation is to immediately identify the landowner with God and the laborers with ourselves.

* Without knowing the rest of the story what are your first impressions when you hear the main character is a “landowner?” What impression do you have when you hear the word “laborer?” (Think of immigrant workers in own culture.)

* What does it tell you about the landowner that he went out into the marketplace to hire laborers instead of having his manager take care of it?

* How many times did he do this? Remember he stated early in the morning. Do you think he was concerned about getting the harvest done?

* Did all the workers end up doing the same amount of work? Remember the last ones were hired at five o’clock.

* Does this seem like an efficient way of doing things?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, September 16 & 17

Matthew 20:9-12

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*The day’s work is done and now it is time to be paid for their work. Remember that the landowner had negotiated with the first ones hired to receive the usual daily wage.

* What do you think the expectations were for how much each group who was hired would receive? (Remember the first group worked all day and the last worked only one hour.) The manager was instructed to begin with the last group hired.

* How much did each group receive? After the first group saw that the ones who worked for one hour received a full day’s pay, they were expecting to receive much more than what they had agreed on since they had worked all day in the hot sun. They of course received the same amount. Many of us at some time in our lives have uttered the words, “That’s not fair!”

* Do you think this was fair? Would you have reacted in the same way as those who grumbled? Their wage was just enough to keep them going for another day, and then they had to hope that they would be hired again in order to survive.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, September 18 & 19

Matthew 20:13-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*Now we hear the landowner response to these unhappy laborers. He starts with a business mentality of contractual agreements where things are calculated and recorded, but then shifts to show shocking and undeserved generosity with a goodness that reaches out in blessing. Did you see that coming?

* Do you think he is acting out of a sense of ownership “I’ve got all the marbles and you only get what I will give you?” Or is he willing to use what “belongs” to him in a way that fulfills another’s need?

* He asks those complaining, “are you envious because I am generous?” The word envious is literally “Is your eye evil…?” It is difficult to pretend with our eyes. Have you ever had a conversation with someone about something serious and the person would not make eye contact with you, or look away? The eyes are indeed a window into the soul.

* Have you ever felt yourself questioning the generosity of someone when you didn’t receive anything? Just before the parable Peter had said to Jesus, “Look we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

* Do you think this story has a message for Peter and for us? It concludes, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

* What do we see then we look into the eyes of God and get a glimpse of God’s very heart and soul?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of September 7


This week’s lesson is about forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus, if another person sins against me, how often should we forgive? Jesus shares some amazing insights about forgiveness in what he says, and later in a parable, to teach the disciples and all of us more about forgiveness. And, what God calls us to be in sharing and receiving forgiveness. It would seem, that God’s Love and Grace is at the center of all this!


Monday – Tuesday, September 7 & 8

Matthew 18: 21-22

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“Peter came and said to (Jesus), ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*What does Jesus say to Peter’s question on how many times should I forgive?

*Do you think Peter is surprised by the answer Jesus gives? Why?

*When has forgiveness been easy for you to give? Why?

*When has forgiveness been hard or difficult? Why?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, September 9 & 10

Matthew 18: 23-27

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of the slave released him and forgave him the debt.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*What does Jesus say the Kingdom of heaven may be compared to in this parable?

*Jesus uses stories (parables) to teach important lessons. What can you learn or gain about forgiveness in this story?

*Why does the king have pity on the servant?

*Can you think of a time that you had pity on another person? What does God want us to do in these situations?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, September 9 & 10

Matthew 18: 28-35

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported it to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

*What is the lesson that Jesus is trying to teach in this part of our parable story?

*Jesus speaks about the importance of forgiving one another, how is forgiveness shown or not shown in this parable?

*Can you think of a time when you were shown forgiveness by someone?

*Can you think of a time when you were able to tell or show forgiveness to someone in your life?

*Think about this; Jesus said to Peter that you should not only show forgiveness to someone 7 times, but seventy-seven times, so how do you think this could be possible? I believe that it is only with the help, love and power of Jesus, one might just be able to truly forgive someone who has wronged you or deeply hurt or wounded you.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of August 31

 

Monday – Tuesday, August 31 & September 1

Matthew 18:1-5

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* “We’re Number One!” That might be an appropriate sentiment at a ballgame but not for the followers of Jesus! Jesus has just told his disciples that his journey will lead to suffering and death. He asks them to follow them. How do they respond? They want to know who is the greatest. It seems like they are struggling to be number 1. Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone over who was the best at something? What did it feel like? Why did you want to be number 1?

* Jesus gives the disciples a most unusual answer and it involves a child. He tells them that they must change and become like a child. In Jesus’ day, kids were pretty insignificant. They may have been loved by their parents, but they were vulnerable and powerless. Why would Jesus want his disciples and us, to become like little children?

* How would the disciples have to “change”? Jesus talks about the need to become humble. What does that mean? Why do you think that being humble is important for us?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, September 2 & 3

Matthew 18:15-17

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“15 If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* In these last couple of chapters in Matthew, Jesus has been busy helping his disciples understand what it means to follow him. He has also been speaking about how followers behave in community. Yesterday we talked about our need to be humble. Today Jesus talks about what should happen when we disagree with one another. Have you ever gotten mad at someone (of course you have, we all have)? Think about or discuss what made you angry and how that made you feel. How did you resolve your disagreement?

* Take a look at our verses. How many times does Jesus talk about listening? It seems as if listening is really important if we are to continue to get along. Jesus knows that it can be hard when we are angry and upset to listen to the other person’s point of view. Maybe there has been a misunderstanding. Maybe their feelings have been hurt by something we have said or done. Is it easy or hard to talk to someone who we have been disagreeing with? Why or why not? Jesus knows that it is sometimes easier for his followers (us included) to talk to others about our anger or disappointment. It can be hard to go to the one we are arguing about and listen. But what happens when we tell others about our anger but do not sit down with the person who made us angry and listen to what they have to say?

* How do Jesus’ words affect the way we deal with each other in the church or in our neighborhoods, or in our family, or in our world

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, September 4 & 5

Matthew 18:20

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is a very familiar verse to many people. But it is very important for the followers of Jesus! As we follow Jesus, we do so together, not on our own. We live in a culture that values the individual. That can be good or it can be bad. As followers of Jesus, we value every individual life. But we are not in this faith business alone! It is not just about me, it is always about we! We are in this together. We are all brothers and sisters. And Christ is with us! What does it mean for us to be in community with one another? How does it help us to listen to others? How does it help us to get to know others who may be different from ourselves? How can it help us stand up for those who are hurting, discriminated against, and in need?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


This week we conclude our month-long study of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah. Jonah’s story might be familiar to you – at least the part where he was swallowed up by a large fish. But Jonah was different from most other prophets. He ran away from God’s mission. It seems as if he has learned his lesson but then he pouts about God’s saving love. All in all, it is a fascinating story and a fascinating character. Come and meet Jonah!

 

Devotions for the Week of August  24

Monday – Tuesday, August 24 & 25

Jonah 4:2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“2He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* And now we find out how our reluctant prophet feels about God forgiving the Ninevites. It is not pretty is it? How does Jonah feel about God’s actions? Read the verses out loud – in the tone of voice that you think Jonah used. What does Jonah say to God about why he ran away in the first place?

* Often in the Bible we read about God, “You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” This is the only example of this verse being used in anger and frustration. Did Jonah’s reaction surprise you? Why do you think that Jonah is upset about God being gracious and merciful? Hasn’t God been gracious and merciful to Jonah? Did he forget that God saved him when he tried to run away from God’s call? Do you think that Jonah is mad that God is saving those who are foreigners and not the same religion as Jonah? Do you think that Jonah has learned anything?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, August 26 & 27

Jonah 4:3-6

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“‘’3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ 4And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. 6 The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Oh boy, this guy! He is so mad that God did not destroy the Ninevites that he asks God to take his life. What do you think Jonah is thinking? Why? What do you think God is thinking? What does God say to Jonah?

* The next verses are so interesting! Jonah sits down and waits to see what happens to Nineveh. It would appear that he would still like to see God rain down destruction on these foreigners. It is very hot and he builds a shelter to protect himself from the sun. What did God do for Jonah to make him more comfortable? Why do you think God did that? Think or talk again about how God relates to this reluctant prophet.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, August 28 & 29

Jonah 4:7-11

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’9 But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ 10Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty fed up with Jonah. First, he runs away from God. Then, when God saves him, he does an about face and thanks God. Then he does what God asks him to do, he goes to Nineveh. But it has all been downhill since then. While God’s Word has been spoken, Jonah is furious that Nineveh was not destroyed. Why did God have to be so darn loving! And now poor Jonah has another problem. His magical bush that God sent him to keep him comfortable, has withered and died. He is hot. He is pouting. He wants to die. How does God respond to Jonah?

* What does Jonah say back to God? God truly is gracious and merciful and abounding in steadfast love. He lets Jonah pout and complain. Then God reminds Jonah how concerned Jonah was for his little plant. God tries to point out that God was concerned about the people of Nineveh, all 120,000 people. Do you think Jonah ever figured it out? Why do you think that this story of a reluctant prophet is in our Bible? What does it tell us about God?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


Devotions for the Week of August  17

Monday – Tuesday, August 17 & 18

Jonah 3:1-4

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Jonah is given another chance to go to Nineveh and bring God’s Word. This time we read that he actually does what God asks him to do. Why do you think he obeyed God this time? Was it fear of God? Was it in thankfulness to God for saving him? Was it the realization that there was no way for him to escape from God? What do you think you would have done if you were Jonah?

* Remember that the great city of Nineveh was a foreign place. The people did not worship the Lord God. Why would God send Jonah to a foreign land?

* Notice that it took 3 days to walk across the city of Nineveh. If you wanted to proclaim God’s Word from the center you would have had to walk for a day and a half. Jonah only walked for a day? Why do you think he didn’t want to go to the city center so more people could hear him? Is Jonah still not sure about this mission? Do you think he might have been afraid that if he told the Ninevites that God was going to overthrow them, they might have arrested or hurt him? How would you feel if God asked you to go to a strange place with a scary message for a bunch of strangers?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, August 19 & 20

Jonah 3:5-9

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Great news! The people of Nineveh take Jonah’s message to heart! Everyone from the least to the greatest, including the king, listened. The king puts on clothes made of the material that they use to make sacks. He puts ashes on his head and declares that all his people must do the same and must fast (that means no food). That is how ancient peoples mourned or showed that they felt guilty for their actions and wanted to change. Did the response of the people of Nineveh surprise you? Why do you think the people believed God?

* What do you think of the king’s response after he declares a fast and sackcloth and ashes – “Who knows? God may relent and change his mind?” We will find out what Jonah thinks about all this. How do you think he will feel?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, August 21 & 22

Jonah 3:10 – 4:1

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Wow! It worked! Jonah’s message from God was actually heard and the people turned away from their evil ways. And now we read that God would not destroy Nineveh for its sins. In fact, we read that, “God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and did not do it.” Talk or think about what it means that God changes God’s mind? What does it say about our God?

* Now talk about or think about what it means that God reaches out to those who are different, those whose religion is not the same as ours? How does it affect how we should behave towards those who are different from us? How does it inform our life as Christians?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


Devotions for the Week of August  10

Monday – Tuesday, August 10 & 11

Jonah 1:17

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* If you are familiar at all with Jonah, here is the part you probably remember. After being thrown into the sea, Jonah is swallowed by a large fish. Is this good news for our reluctant prophet or bad news? I always thought of it as pretty bad news, but it actually saves Jonah from drowning in the middle of the sea.

* Who sent the big fish to swallow up Jonah? Why do you think God wanted to save Jonah after he had been so disobedient to God’s Word?

* How do you think Jonah is feeling right about now? How would you feel?

* Think about or discuss what it must have looked like, felt like, and smelled like in the belly of the fish. Our verses end by telling us that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days. Think about or discuss how this relates to our Lord Jesus. Look up Matthew 12:40 in your Bible. What is Jesus saying?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, August 12 & 13

Jonah 2:1-9

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,
‘I called to the Lord out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 Then I said, “I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?”
5 The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
6   at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me for ever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
O Lord my God.
7 As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 Those who worship vain idols
forsake their true loyalty.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord!’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Something pretty remarkable happened to Jonah in the belly of that big fish. He had some time to think about what God asked him to do, how he had responded, what had happened, and how God saved him. Our verses for Wednesday and Thursday are a song of thanksgiving that Jonah proclaims right there in the belly of the fish. Jonah knows that he would have drowned if God hadn’t sent that great fish to swallow him up. Jonah uses the expression, “Out of the belly of Sheol.” Sheol was the place of darkness, the place of the dead. But look carefully, he describes himself as being in darkness before he had to contend with the waves and the sea. Do you suppose Jonah had been dealing with a guilty conscience when he was on the boat – did he feel bad about disobeying God? Talk about or think about what it feels like to have a guilty conscience. What did you do to help you feel better?

* Read verses 3-4 again. Jonah talks about being thrown into the sea. What he also talks about he is really afraid of, before he even mentions drowning in the waves. What is it that Jonah fears? Often God’s people confess that they are afraid that what they have done wrong has caused God to leave them and to stop loving them. That was what Job feared. It was what the people of Israel often feared when they had turned away from God. Will our actions ever cause God to stop loving us? (HINT:  NO! NO! NO! GOD WILL NEVER TURN AWAY FROM US OR STOP LOVING US. THAT IS WHO OUR GOD IS! THANK GOD!)  How does this reassurance help us in our lives?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, August 14 & 15

Jonah 2:10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish is over. At God’s command the fish spits him out onto dry land. What do you think Jonah looked like at that point? I see a guy covered in slime and sea weed and smelling like fish guts. Yuck!

* And he has had a lot of time to think things over. What do you think Jonah was feeling when he was spit out on dry land? How do you think he has changed? Why?

* What do you think will happen next? Do you think God will ask him again to go to Ninevah? (Spoiler – God will.)  What do you think Jonah will do? Tune in next week for the continuing tale of “Jonah, the Reluctant Prophet.”

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


Devotions for the Week of August  3


Monday – Tuesday, August 3 & 4

Jonah 1:1-3

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2‘Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.’ 3But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* The Book of the Prophet Jonah should actually be called, “How Not to Be a Prophet.” The call of God to Jonah came in the usual way, “Now, the word of the Lord came to Jonah.” Prophets often felt unworthy of the call to be God’s voice. Some complained that they were too sinful (Isaiah). Some that they were too young (Jeremiah). But none of them did what Jonah did – he ran away. He is called to go to Nineveh and tell them that God has seen their sinfulness. Nineveh was a foreign nation who followed other gods. When Jonah was called, he ran the other way. He got on a boat and headed in the opposite direction. Why do you think Jonah ran away? Was he scared? Did he not want to preach God’s Word to foreigners? Did he not want to bother? What do you think?

* If God called you to share a message, how do you think you might react? It says in our verses that Jonah went away from the presence of the Lord. Do you think that that is possible? Why?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, August 5 & 6

Jonah 1:4-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6The captain came and said to him, ‘What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.’ 7 The sailors said to one another, ‘Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8Then they said to him, ‘Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?’ 9‘I am a Hebrew,’ he replied. ‘I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’ 10Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, ‘What is this that you have done!’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Oh oh, it appears that Jonah cannot get away from the presence of the Lord after all. The boat he is on is being buffeted by a mighty storm. It is so bad that the crew has thrown the cargo into the sea in hopes of saving the boat. While all this is going on, we read that Jonah is sound asleep. Do you think you could have slept through that storm?

* The captain wakes Jonah up and tells him to pray to whatever god he believes in so they might be saved. Theses sailors are not people of Jonah’s faith. But we do know that they are superstitious. They want to figure out why this terrible storm is happening to them. Who is responsible? So, they cast lots (which was like throwing dice). Jonah’s name comes up. The crew knows that he is running away from his God. But when Jonah describes his God the crew becomes even more afraid. What did Jonah tell the sailors about God? How do you think Jonah was feeling about now? What do you think that Jonah was learning about God?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, August 7 & 8

Jonah 1:11-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“11 Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?’ For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12He said to them, ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.’ 13Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 14Then they cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.’ 15So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16Then the men feared the Lord even more…”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* These are an interesting few verses! The sailors ask Jonah what they should do. How does he respond? Why do you think he said what he did? What does his response say about our friend, Jonah?

* Discuss or think about what kind of man Jonah is. What were his bad points? What were his good points?

* If I was Jonah, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to be thrown into a raging sea in order to save the crew of the ship. Even if I knew I was guilty. What about you?

* What will happen to Jonah, do you think? What happened after the sailors threw Jonah into the sea? How do the sailors react?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


We continue to share readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles which is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume. As we move from the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we will spend some time with the stories of the ways the disciples started to carry out the ministry of Jesus as the church began to grow guided by the Holy Spirit. From these stories we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship in the world today.

 

Devotions for the Week of July 27

Monday – Tuesday, July 27 & 28

Acts 28:1-2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* As we heard last week, St. Paul is a prisoner and on his way to Rome. But the ship he is traveling on is caught in a devastating storm that goes on for days and days. Finally, land is sighted and after a harrowing experience, they reach the shore and learn they are on the island of Malta. In fact, they have actually overshot Rome. Malta is a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Take a look on a map in your Bible. It is a tiny dot off Sicily. Because of its location, it had a great deal of significance and up to modern times. If you controlled Malta, you controlled the Mediterranean Sea. Many different nations had controlled Malta and many more would do so in the future. Because the Maltese had had many experiences with foreign visitors, it might have affected how they reacted to the shipwreck. In what ways might they have been cautious about strangers? How did the Maltese welcome the shipwrecked?

* If you had been through what Paul and the others had been through, it must have been a comfort and relief to have been welcomed with, “unusual kindness.” They were wet, cold, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. We read that the Maltese built a fire to warm them. What else do you think the Maltese might have done to show hospitality? Hospitality is something we talk a lot about in the church. We know that it is a part of who we are to welcome others. Talk or think about that word, hospitality. What does it mean in your family? What does it mean in our church? How can we continue to welcome people while we are in a pandemic?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, July 29-30

Acts 28:3-6

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Now, in addition to everything that has happened to Paul, he is bitten by a deadly viper, a snake. I would have been terrified! But Paul simply shakes it off into the fire. How do the Maltese react to Paul’s snake bite? Who do they think he might be? If you were sitting with the Maltese and witnessed what happened to Paul, what would you have done?

* It is interesting that the people just wait and see what happens to Paul. Sometimes we jump to conclusions about someone. Have you ever thought something about someone that proved not to be true? How did you feel? When nothing happened to Paul, they changed their minds. Instead of a murderer, they decided that he must be a god. Why did they think that?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, July 31 & August 1

Acts 28:7-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honors on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* There is that word, hospitality, again The people of Malta continue their hospitality to Paul and his fellow travelers. The leader of the people is Publius and he invited them to stay with him for three days. Publius is a Roman or Greek name. Down through history, Malta was controlled by many, many different peoples. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Moslems, Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, the French and the British all controlled Malta at one time. Britain controlled Malta during WWII and the country endured heavy Nazi bombing that lasted from June of 1940 to November 1942. Often their only defense against the attacks was the heroics of 3 small fighter planes that became known as Faith, Hope, and Charity named after Paul’s words in I Corinthians 13, “And now, faith, hope and love (charity) abide, these three and the greatest of these is love.” What did Paul do for Publius’s father-in-law? What was the reaction of the Maltese? Talk or think about how powerful Paul’s witness to Jesus must have been to the Maltese people. Paul’s influence is felt in Malta to this day. Our daughter, Amanda, spent a semester studying in Malta when she was in college. She talked about the procession honoring St. Paul. The huge statue of Paul was taken from the church and carried through the streets lined with people who were there to honor St. Paul.

* After 3 months, Paul and the others are able to continue their journey to Rome. Once in Rome, Paul continues under house arrest. And it is there that the Acts of the Apostles’ ends. Christian tradition tells us that several years later both St. Paul and St. Peter were killed in Rome during a persecution of Christians. But Paul’s visits to Malta and the other places he went on his journey had a lasting effect. The Word of Jesus Christ became known to many different people in many different lands.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of July 20

Monday – Tuesday, July 20 & 21

Acts 27: 1-2; 13-20


1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia and put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of the small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Paul is now on a journey by ship to Rome. Once again, he has been taken in as a prisoner. When the ship sets sail, there is a calm and gentle winds at first, but later a storm with wind like a hurricane, called a northeaster, sweeps down from the island. The wind gave such a force that the sailors, can no longer navigate, they throw out the anchor and the ship is driven along. They begin to throw out cargo overboard, as the storm rages on for several days. They are desperate, and they finally gave up all hope of being saved.

* What do think is happening in this Bible story? What makes the sailors feel helpless and give up hope?

* What might the Holy Spirit be doing through Paul and his journey by sea to Rome?

* Have you ever felt hopeless in your life? How did you get through it?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, July 22 & 23

Acts 27: 21-25

 


1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: ‘Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourself this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Paul has warned the sailors not to sail from Crete. They go ahead and set sail and find themselves struggling through a mighty storm. They are hungry, tired and desperate, and they have given up hope. Suddenly an Angel of the Lord shows up and offers a message of hope and promise to Paul and the sailors that they should not give up and to have faith and hope.

* What might God be doing in this Bible story for Paul and the sailors as they go through this very scary and difficult storm and survive?

* How does this story relate and even parallel to our times as we journey through this Covid-19 global pandemic?

* How does God give us strength and hope in this very scary and difficult storm in today’s time?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday  – Saturday, July 24 & 25

Acts 27:27-44

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“On the fourteenth night, we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that they would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.’ So the soldiers cut the rope that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Just before dawn Paul urged them to eat. ‘For the last fourteen days,’ he said, ‘you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.’ After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea, and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and prevented them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Paul’s journey at sea plays out like a scene from a movie. It is full of adventure, suspense, sailing on the sea, and with powerful images of the storm and the sea, and all the struggles and challenges of the people on board of this ship!

* What might God be trying to do in this story?

* How are the sailors, prisoners, and soldiers changed and transformed from this journey at sea?

* When have you felt like you are being challenged and changed by an experience in your story?
If you could travel anywhere you wanted in the world on a trip, where would you want to go? What things would you like to see there?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of July 13

 

Monday – Tuesday, July 13 & 14

Acts 19:23-28

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, ‘Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.’ When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Paul is on his third and final missionary journey when he comes to Ephesus (a port city in Turkey). It was in Ephesus that a great temple had been built hundreds of years earlier to the Greek goddess, Artemis (Diana). The temple was so amazing that it was considered to be one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. In the temple where many statues including a great statue of Artemis, herself. Paul has been in Ephesus for two years as our verses begin. He has preached the Word of Christ in the Jewish synagogue and the public theater. Paul also performed great works of healing in the name of Jesus. In our verses, trouble begins with a man named Demetrius. Remember that when we hear that trouble broke out because of the Way? That was an early name for the Christian Church. What did Demetrius do for his living? Why was he upset with Paul?

* Notice that our friend, Demetrius, is first concerned with his money and then with the goddess, Artemis. Do you think that Demetrius and the others truly worship Artemis or are they just concerned with earning money by crafting statues of her? Why or why not?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, July 15 & 16

Acts 19:29-34

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theatre, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling-companions. Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theatre. Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward. And Alexander motioned for silence and tried to make a defense before the people. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Things have gone from bad to worse in Ephesus. The silversmiths have incited a riot. There was screaming and shouting but “most of them did not know why they had come together.” It was a good example of mob mentality. That is when people act the same way as those around them – often ignoring facts or their own feelings of right or wrong. When a mob forms the results can be deadly. When we lived near Duluth, Minnesota, we often drove past a memorial to three innocent Black men who had been lynched by a mob of people who accused them of a crime. Can you think of a time when you were tempted to do something wrong because everyone else was? Did you do it? Why is it so tempting to follow the crowd?

* The opposite of an angry mob is a peaceful protest. We have seen many peaceful protests (not the looting and violent minority) in our country lately protesting against injustice and racism. How do the protesters we see differ from that crowd in Ephesus?

* Gaius and Aristarchus were two of Paul’s friends. They were grabbed by the crowd and taken to the theater. When the authorities tried to call for quiet the mob shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” They shouted that for two whole hours. How would you have felt if you were Gaius or Aristarchus? What do you think could have happened to them?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, July 17 & 18

Acts 19:35-41

 

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“But when the town clerk had quietened the crowd, he said, ‘Citizens of Ephesus, who is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple-keeper of the great Artemis and of the statue that fell from heaven? Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. You have brought these men here who are neither temple-robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the artisans with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges there against one another. If there is anything further you want to know, it must be settled in the regular assembly. For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.’ When he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Finally, the mob was silenced. When they were all yelled out, the town clerk told them that they were in danger of being accused of rioting. It is amazing what one person can do when she/he bravely confronts wrongdoing. If you had been the town clerk, would you have spoken up? Why or why not?

* Can you remember a time when people were losing their tempers or tempted to do something wrong and someone spoke up and things changed? Have you ever been that person? Would you like to be that person? Why or why not?

* Loren and I had the opportunity to visit Ephesus a number of years ago. Our bus tour took us to the site where the great temple to Artemis stood. All that was left of it was one solitary column.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


Devotions for the Week of July 6

Monday – Tuesday, July 6 & 7

Acts 17:16-21

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.’ (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.’ Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* As the passage for this week begins, we find Paul in Athens, Greece where he is waiting for his companions to join him. Those companions are Silas and Timothy. They have been having a rough time as they have been traveling and spreading the message of Jesus to the Jews in their synagogues. The Jews in Thessalonica formed a mob to drive them out and then pursued them to the next community to continue to stir the people up against them. The believers sent Paul away and he went on to Athens. Athens was a center of learning with people who followed many different philosophies. They were people who were always interested in anything new and curious to hear about it. This was fertile ground for Paul to share his message in the synagogue and the marketplace. Paul was ready to argue and debate with these learned people. He was upset by the number of idols he saw in the city and was ready to use this to his advantage.

* If you were going to share the message of Jesus Christ with someone who had never heard it, how might you begin to make a connection with the person? Think about how you begin a conversation with someone you have just met.

* What common ground might you have? From what the Athenians have heard they refer to Paul as a “babbler” and “a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” So they took him to the Areopagus, which was a hill at the center of town below the Acropolis where people gathered to argue legal matters and dispute religious beliefs. They wanted to hear more because this was something new they had never heard.

* What sort of new things do you get excited about when you hear about them? What do you want to know and how do you find out more about them?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, July 8 & 9

Acts 17:21-2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being;’ as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Now we see Paul on top of this hill surrounded by the intellectual thinkers of Athens who are eager to learn more. Paul of course would not be intimidated by such a group and is ready for them. He already has his talking point set – the many idols he has seen throughout the city. Because Athens was a large city with many religions represented, they each had statues representing the gods they worshiped. But he doesn’t begin by telling them that what they are doing is wrong. Instead he starts with a little flattery so that they won’t turn him off right away but be open to hear what he has to say.

* After telling them that he sees how religious they are, what does be specifically refer to that he has seen as he went through the city? Since there were so many gods with altars in the city, they wanted to make sure that none were left out. This gave him his opening to make known to them what they had already said existed as “unknown.”

* What does Paul say makes this “unknown” God different from all the others in the city? What does he say his God has done?

* As he describes God, where does he say God is to be found? He is moving them to think that the God he is proclaiming is the one they have unknowingly been searching for.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, July 10 & 11

Acts 17: 29-34

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“’Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ At that point Paul left them. But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* How is it different to be “God’s offspring” instead of being from a deity of gold, silver or stone?

* Are we often tempted to make God in our own image rather than see ourselves as created in the image of God? Paul now gets down to the core of the message of Jesus Christ, having opened their minds to hear the message.

* Are we often tempted to jump to the message we want to share before we have moved someone to be receptive to that message?

* When Paul speaks of God raising Jesus from the dead, how do the Athenians react? Did everyone feel the same way?

* Did Paul have any success in bring people to believe in Jesus?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

 


Devotions for the Week of June 29

 

Monday – Tuesday, June 29 – 30

Acts 16: 11-15

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* What is it that leads Paul to travel to Philippi?

* Have you ever felt God leading you to do something in your life?

* What is Lydia’s response as a believer? How is she and her family being faithful to God?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday- Thursday, July 1 & 2

 Acts 16: 16-24

 Paul and Silas in Prison: Part 1

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’ She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment, the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market-place to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, ‘These men are Jews, and are throwing our city in an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice’. The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* What was the special talent that this slave girl possessed?

* Why were the owners of the slave girl angry at Paul and Silas?

* Who heals this girl?

* Can you name a time in your life, or in a family or friends life where you have seen God bring healing and change?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, July 3 & 4

Acts 16: 25-34

Paul and Silas in Prison: Part 2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all other’s in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe In God – he and his whole family.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* What is the Holy Spirit doing in this part of the story?

* What is the jailer’s response to Paul and Silas?

* In the end of this story, it says, the jailer was filled with joy because he and his family had come to believe in God. When have you felt Joy in your life with God?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of June 22

 

Monday – Tuesday, June 22 – 23

Acts 13:1-5a

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* Hooray! Today we get to go with St. Paul and Barnabas on a road trip. After sheltering at home, it will be great to get on the road! Talk about what your family road trips are like. Where do you like to go? What are some of the great things about being with the family on a road trip? What are some of the not so great things?

* Paul will take three trips in the Book of Acts – three missionary journeys to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Notice that this trip was not Paul’s or Barnabas’ idea. It was a commission from God. If your Bible has maps in it, take a look at the route that Paul and Barnabas take on their journey. How would traveling in Paul’s day be different from our own?

* For the most part, they either took a ship to a new destination or walked. How would this be difficult?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, June 24 – 25

Acts 14:1-8

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to maltreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* A pattern continues in these verses about Paul’s First Missionary Journey. Paul and Barnabas always begin the same way when they get to a new city. They go to the local synagogue and share the Good News with the Jews, the people like Paul and Barnabas. Some people believe them when they tell them about Jesus. But others don’t believe. Why would it be hard for people to believe in Jesus? Why would it be hopeful?

* In many cities on his journeys, when Paul was no longer welcome in the church, he would go to the people of the town who were considered outsiders to the faith – the Gentiles. And he would share the word of the Lord with them. But often he encountered hostility. We read in our verses that Paul caused quite the division. In fact, the authorities wanted to mistreat them and stone them. Yikes, this road trip is getting dangerous. In fact, on Paul’s journeys he was imprisoned, whipped, stoned, beat up, and shipwrecked. But nothing could stop Paul from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wonder if it would have stopped me? Would it have stopped you? Why or why not?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 

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Friday – Saturday, June 26 & 27

Acts 14:8-18

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* In our verses for today, Paul and Barnabas are in a city called Lystra. And they have a totally different experience! While they are there, Paul heals a man who had been crippled from birth. What would you have thought if you were in the crowd that day and had heard Paul speak and seen him heal the crippled man? Well, the people were so impressed that they thought Paul and Barnabas were Greek gods! And they wanted to treat them like gods. Quite different than being whipped or stoned, isn’t it? How would you have felt if you were Paul or Barnabas? Would you have liked to be mistaken for a god? Why or why not?

* Of course, Paul and Barnabas tell the people that they are human just like them. They try to explain, in language that the people will understand that they represent the Living God, not “worthless things” like the Greek gods. And they talk about how God has given them the rain and seasons so they can grow crops and be nourished. What would you have said to convince the crowd that God, not you should be worshipped?

* How did you like this road trip? Would you like to go with Paul on another journey? Why or why not?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Devotions for the Week of June 15

 

Monday – Tuesday, June 15 & 16

Acts 10:34-39a

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all. That message spread after the baptism that John announced; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Last week’s verses from Acts 10 brought Peter and us to the home of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion in Caesarea. The Spirit has been guiding Peter and Cornelius to this moment when we will see the message of the Gospel move beyond anything that Peter had imagined. This is a critical moment for Peter and the early Church that speaks to the expanding message of the Gospel in the Church today. Cornelius and those gathered are ready to hear what Peter has to say, and Peter begins to speak to them. He begins by making it clear that God shows no “partiality.” No one has any more status before God that anyone else. Up until this moment, belief in Jesus was being preached to the Jewish community that followed the Jewish traditions and laws. Yet Peter’s vision of the sheet with animals of all kinds had brought the message to Peter that all these animals could be eaten despite the Jewish food prohibitions. Things were about to change.

* Have you ever felt that someone who is a Christian should be doing something differently? How important are the rules that the Church has set up for someone to be a part of a Christian community? Do you think Peter was surprised by what he was being asked to do? As Peter speaks he is bearing witness as a follower of Jesus.

* What is the message Peter is preaching from Jesus? How does he describe what Jesus has done?

* What might you tell people about the purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 

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Wednesday – Thursday, June 17 & 18

Acts 10:39b-43

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Peter continues to witness to who Jesus was as he shares words about his death and resurrection. 1. How do you understand the phrase, “hanging him on a tree?”

* Who does Peter say is the one who has done all this?

* What does Peter say that the chosen witnesses experienced with Jesus after he rose from the dead?

* What does Peter say they were commanded to do? What are we commanded to do as followers of Jesus and his witnesses in our world today?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 

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Friday – Saturday, June 19 & 20

Acts 10: 44-48

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold that water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. They invited him to stay for several days.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* We have come to the pivotal moment in this chapter when God acts in a new way for the world and for the future of the church that is coming into being. This event is known as the “Gentile Pentecost.” It is the moment when God extends the faith outside the Jewish Christian people to be inclusive of all the peoples, the Gentiles. Just as had happened to the Jews gathered at Pentecost, the Gentiles begin to speak in tongues and praise God.

* What might you have thought if you were the ones who had the gift of the Spirit and suddenly someone who you looked down on suddenly received the same gift you had? The circumcised believers are conservative Jewish Christians who object to Peter’s association with Gentiles.

* How might we be surprised by the working of the Spirit in our communities? Where have you seen the Spirit’s gifts lifting people up?

* What is the final act that Peter confers on those who have received the Spirit? Why do you think he asks the question, “Can anyone withhold the water?” At the very end of these verses, what finally shows acceptance and welcome in the community of Christ?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Friday – Saturday, June 12 & 13

Acts 10: 23b-33

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, ‘Stand up; I am only a mortal.’  And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them. ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?’ Cornelius replied, ‘Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.” Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* We are now at the point in the story were the narrative has us ready for the Apostle Peter and the Roman Centurion to meet. The groundwork has been laid. We can see that the Spirit is moving to bring them together for a special purpose. We are building up to something very important in the story of the spread of God’s mission in the world. Peter sets off for Caesarea with some of the believers to meet Cornelius.

* What has Cornelius done to prepare for Peter’s coming? What does he do when Peter arrives? Sometimes our understanding of something isn’t correct and we get it wrong. How important is it to listen and wait for more information?

* Have you ever found yourself worshiping something that wasn’t really the God we are called to worship? Here Peter expresses his understanding of the vision he had, when the sheet came down from heaven with animals he would never eat because he had always considered them unclean.

* What connection does Peter make between his vision and these Gentiles to whom he has come directed by the Spirit? How does this create a new direction for Peter’s mission?

* Has there ever been a time when you felt the Spirit directing you in a new direction outside your usual way of thinking? What might this story tell us about what is happening in our world today, and how the Spirit is leading us outside our comfort zone? In next week’s verses, we will hear what the Lord has commanded Peter to say.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Wednesday – Thursday, June 10 & 11

Acts 10:17-23a

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’  So Peter went down to the men and said, ‘I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?’ They answered, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.’  So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* In these verses, we see the story continue to unfold as the people sent by Cornelius arrive in Joppa looking for Peter. We are told that “Peter was greatly puzzled” about the vision. It didn’t immediately make sense to him.

* Have you ever heard a sermon or read a Bible passage that puzzled you? Later we are told, Peter was thinking about his vision. What do you do to make sense out of something confusing? While Peter was thinking, he received a message from the Spirit that told him what to do. Not knowing what they wanted with him, he was told to go with them without hesitation, because they were sent by the Spirit.

* Would you have gone without hesitation? What is often our response when asked to do something? Peter did ask the reason for their coming.

* What do the three men tell Peter about Cornelius, and why there were sent? These three men, two slaves and a soldier, were left standing at the gate of Simon’s house through this conversation.

* What does Peter do at the end of these verses, and what does it tell us about hospitality to strangers?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Monday – Tuesday, June 8 & 9

Acts 10:1-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’ When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.”

“About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* In the verses from chapter 10 of Acts, which we will be considering for the next two weeks, we will hear how God is moving the Apostle Peter to continue to spread the faith beyond Jerusalem and outside the boundaries of the Jewish faith. When we read names of places and people and their occupations, we tend to skim over them to get to the core of the story. Yet each detail gives us a clue to flow of the story. One such detail is that Peter is staying with a man named Simon who is a tanner. Now how important is it to know that information? In this chapter from Acts, Peter is moving outside his Jewish faith world into the Gentile world. Peter is staying in the home of a tanner. Here we begin to get a feel for how Peter’s views of the faith are changing. Because a tanner works with animal carcasses, which were ritually unclean Jewish law regarded him practically as an outcast. So Peter’s staying with him showed he was stepping outside the barriers that Jewish law had set up between people.

* Have you ever been in a position of receiving hospitality from someone your beliefs would have said you should not have anything to do with? The other character we meet is Cornelius who is a centurion of the Italian Cohort. That tells us he is Roman soldier whose allegiance was to Rome.

* As we see news coverage of the police and national guard troops facing off with protesters, how do you think the people of Caesarea viewed the Romans? What about Cornelius surprises you?

* Three o’clock was the time of afternoon prayer (another important detail). What happened at that time and how did Cornelius react?

* What was the message that he received and what did he do? The next day in the afternoon Peter goes up on the roof to pray.

* What are we told about what Peter was feeling at this time? He then falls into a trance and a message comes to him in a voice from heaven and a vision.

* What did he see? What was he told to do? (Remember he is hungry.) The animals he saw were all ones that the Jewish law forbid them to eat because they were labeled unclean.

* What is this message telling Peter about God and the world he has made? Have you ever heard the gospel in a way that caused you to make some change in your thinking?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Faith Five for Everyone

In the coming weeks we will be sharing a number of readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Acts is the story of the beginning of the Christian Church. From these stories, we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship  in the world today. Each of our 3 Bible Study Sections is longer and can be used for two days.

* * * * * * *

This week’s reading is from the book of Acts 8:29-40. It is about one of Jesus’ disciples, Phillip, faithfully following what is being asked when an angel of the Lord says to Phillip, “Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” We know this story to be called “Phillip and the Ethiopian Official.” I hope you take time to read and discover this wonderful story of faith!

 

Friday – Saturday, June 5 & 6

Acts 8: 38-40

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“The official ordered the carriage to stop, and both Phillip and the official went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The official did not see him again, but continued on his way, full of joy. Philip found himself in Azotus; he went on to Caesarea, and on the way, he preached the Good News in every town.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* In the previous readings, we have learned that Philip has been sent by the Holy Spirit and is traveling south from Jerusalem. He has met an Ethiopian official who has been in Jerusalem to worship God. Philip and this man have a wonderful faith conversation, and Philip shares the Good News of Jesus with him.

* What is the Holy Spirit doing in this moment, when Philip and the Ethiopian man go down into the water?

* What things have you seen happen in Baptisms at church?

* You were most likely a baby when you were baptized. What things do you remember, or have been shared with you in pictures/stories about your Baptism? Take time to talk about this with your family/friends.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday-Thursday, June 3 & 4

Acts 8: 31-38

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“The official replied, ‘How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?’ And he invited Phillip to climb up and sit in the carriage with him. The passage of scripture which he was reading was this: ‘He was like a sheep that is taken to be slaughtered, like a lamb that makes no sound when its wool is cut off. He did not say a word, He was humiliated, and justice was denied him. No one will be able to tell about his descendants, because his life on earth has come to an end.’ The official asked Phillip, ‘Tell me, of whom is this prophet saying this? Of himself or of someone else?’ Then Phillip began to speak; starting from this passage of scripture, he told him the Good News about Jesus. As they traveled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official said, ‘Here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized?’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* As you reflect on this reading; what do you think the Holy Spirit is doing with this conversation with Phillip and the Ethiopian official?

* Have you ever encountered a situation or time where you have had the opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with someone?

* Why is the man from Ethiopia interested in stopping by the water?

* Is the Holy Spirit stirring this conversation about the Good News of Jesus and leading the Ethiopian man to desire to be baptized?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday – Tuesday, June 1 & 2
Acts 8: 26-30

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“An angel of the Lord said to Phillip, ‘Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This road is not used anymore.) So Phillip got ready and went. Now an Ethiopian eunuch who was an important official in charge of the treasury of the Queen of Ethiopia was on his way home. He had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was going back home in his carriage. As he rode along, he was reading from the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Phillip, ‘Go over to that carriage and stay close to it.’ Phillip ran over and heard him reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. He asked him, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Phillip has heard a call from the Lord from an angel that said to go south on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. He has been given specific directions on where he is going. He later is led by the Holy Spirit to spend time with the Ethiopian man, who is an important official of the Queen of Ethiopia. This Ethiopian man is returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship God.

* What is stirring Phillip to be faithful in traveling on the road south?

* What is the Holy Spirit up to when stirring Phillip to spend time near the carriage of the Ethiopian official?

* Can you name a time in your life when you felt stirred by the Holy Spirit to do something? How did that feel?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday – Saturday, May 29 & 30

Acts 2:14-21

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen to me and let me tell you what this means. These people are not drunk, as you suppose; it is only nine o’ clock in the morning. Instead, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about: This is what I will do in the last days, God says: I will pour out my spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message. I will perform miracles in the sky above and wonders on the earth below. There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke; the sun will be darkened, and the moon will turn red as blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes. And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What happens to Peter, that he has the wisdom and courage to speak up?

* Has his encounter with the Holy Spirit changed Peter and the other disciples?

* Can you think of a time that the Holy Spirit has given you strength, wisdom, courage to do something in your life that you thought you could never do?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday – Thursday, May 27 & 28

Acts 2: 5-13

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious men who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because each one of them heard the believers talking in his own language. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, ‘These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia-yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!’ Amazed and confused, they kept asking each other, ‘What does this mean? But others made fun of the believers, saying, ‘These people are drunk!’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Jewish people have gathered from various areas, counties, cultures and languages. God has drawn people together with a specific plan and purpose in mind. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to the disciples and they are now hearing the disciples speaking in their native languages through the power of the Holy Spirit. It says, that they are hearing the disciples in their own languages speaking about the great things that God has done!

* What do the people who have gathered think when they hear words being spoken in their native language?

* Have you ever had an experience when you could not speak your own language? How did that feel?

* How did it feel when you were finally able to talk to someone in your native language?

* What do you think God is doing through this experience in Acts?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday – Tuesday, May 25 & 26

Acts 2:1-4

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they say what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This week’s texts are from the second chapter of Acts. We go back to the events that began to unfold for the apostles shortly after Jesus is taken up to Heaven following his resurrection and forty days on earth. Jesus has promised the disciples that God has a plan and He will send a helper and they will be given a gift. This disciples are gathered together in one place, when suddenly a strong wind blows in and the people are given a new gift and filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

* What is the new gift that Jesus was speaking about, that will be given to them?

* How are the disciples changed by this new gift from the Holy Spirit?

* Can you think of a time, when you encountered different languages spoken by people and you did not understand what people were saying? How did you feel?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday – Saturday, May 22 & 23

Acts 1: 9-11

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Yesterday was Ascension Day in the church year. The verses here from Acts give us Luke’s description of what the disciples experienced as Jesus returned to the Father. Having given them his instructions for what their mission is to be, his time with them has come to an end. As they are watching, with their minds going over what he has just said to them, he is “lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”

* What do you think might have been going through their minds as they saw him disappear? What would you have felt and thought in this moment? They were left there gazing up toward heaven. Jesus has left them, and before they realize it two men in white robes are standing by them. They must have been surprised and a little shaken.

* Who do you think these two were and why did they appear at just this moment? Whenever we witness something happen in a group of people we tend to stand around and talk about it and share how we felt at seeing it. Sometimes it takes a while for people to leave. The two men in white speak to the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

* What is the message you think they are giving to the disciples when they say this? Has your gaze ever been fixed on something so that it stopped you from moving forward? That is the way it often feels at this time of uncertainty. In this moment the disciples needed reassurance that Jesus has not left them forever, and that “in not many days from now” they would receive the Holy Spirit. So get on with your task as witnesses. Is it helpful to know that we too have a task of witnessing to Jesus’ love in these times of uncertainty?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Wednesday – Thursday, May 20 & 21

Acts 1: 6-8

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* During the forty days of being together Jesus sharing with them his presence as the resurrected Lord and what that meant to them. Now they come together and the first thing they ask him is “When will you restore the kingdom of Israel?”

* What do you think it means for the Kingdom of Israel to be restored? Remember these are the people who have been with him for three years and listened to his teaching and were a part of his ministry. And now the first question they have for Jesus is, “Is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” (A powerful political kingdom?)

* What are they asking for? Do you think they have missed the point of Jesus mission to the world? What do you think Jesus came to our world to do? They want to know when Jesus will do this. Do we often feel like they do? When will God act and do what we think needs to be done in our world?

* Jesus tells them it is not for them to know the times or periods that the Father has set. And then he tells them they will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them. Do you think they have any idea what power they would have from the Holy Spirit?

* They had wanted the kingdom restored to Israel and they had expected Jesus to do it. Do you think they were surprised when they were give the task of being witnesses to Jesus ministry? Do you think they were overwhelmed when he told them their mission was to not only Jerusalem, but to all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth?

* This is a time when most of us are overwhelmed by fear, uncertainty and thoughts of what we are going to do next as we try to remain safe and still live our lives. What are ways each of us can continue to witness to the love of God which surrounds us in our world?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday – Tuesday, May 18 & 19

Acts 1: 1-5

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them, during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This week’s texts are from the first chapter of Acts. We go back to the events that began to unfold for the apostles in those forty days after the resurrection until the time of Jesus Ascension (His return to the Father). On this coming Thursday the church marks the Ascension of our Lord, and in this first chapter of acts Luke records that event. But first we see what has been happening leading up to that moment. Luke addresses his writing to someone called Theophilus. which means “lover of God” and may be any reader who loves God.

* Think about what it means to be a “lover of God” and what that means for the way we live our lives. How does it feel to be the one to whom Luke is addressing this story of the beginnings of the church?

* We don’t often think of Jesus appearing and interacting with his disciples for 40 days after his resurrection. What other stories in the Bible tell of a period of 40 days?

* We are told that he offered them many convincing proofs that he was alive and spoke about the kingdom of God. What kind of proofs might he have offered to his disciples? What proofs would you need? What do you think he said about the kingdom of God?

* While he was staying with them he told them not to leave Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. Think about how hard it is to wait for something. How hard is it in this time when were are waiting to see what will happen next in this time of Covid-19? What have you been doing in this time of waiting? What do you think “the promise of the Father” to the disciples was?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday – Saturday, May 15 & 16

Acts 9:18-20

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Saul (St. Paul) has gone through a monumental change in just a few days. From an enemy of the Christian Church, he has now seen the Risen Lord for himself. He has literally been blinded by the light. Ananias has laid his hands on Saul and Saul not only could see again but received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now Saul proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God.

* Did you notice that in our verses for Wednesday – Thursday, Ananias calls Saul, “Brother Saul?”

* What does it mean to call each other brother or sister in Christ? What does it say about our relationship to that person? As members of a church we call each other brother or sister even if we know we might not always agree with each other. The same is true in our families. Talk about or think about how it can be hard to get along all the time with our family members. How is it harder now? How is it more meaningful?

* God works in amazing ways! Just think, God changed an enemy of the Christian Church to a man who would become its greatest missionary. Throughout our lives, God is working in us. Talk or think about the ways that God has changed you or your thinking.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday – Thursday, May 13 & 14

Acts 9:17

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“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.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Ananias did just what God asked him to do. In spite of knowing that Saul was an enemy to Christians, Ananias went to him and laid his hands on him.

* I wonder if I would have been as faithful to God. Would it have been difficult for you to go to Saul?

* God does not promise Ananias that he would be safe. God didn’t promise him that it would be easy. Right now, our world doesn’t seem particularly safe or easy. Talk about how this new reality feels. What are your hopes and fears at this time?

* Many in our community must go out during this pandemic to work. They are health care workers, plumbers, electricians. They work in our grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and pick up our garbage and deliver our mail. Think about or talk about how we can thank those who go out so many of us can stay safely at home.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday – Tuesday, May 11 & 12

Acts 9:10-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Ananias was a follower of Jesus. He lived in Damascus. One day he has a vision from God and God tells him to go to a man named Saul and lay his hands on him so that he will be able to see again. As you might imagine, Ananias was not too happy about this. He had heard about Saul, and what a dangerous enemy he was to the Christian Church.

* How do you think Ananias felt about God’s call to go to Saul? Not only to go to Saul, but to get close enough to lay his hands on Saul. (No social distancing here.) How would you have felt?

* Often, God calls us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. What has God called you to do that felt too difficult? How did you respond? What does God call our churches to do that might be difficult? How do we respond?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday – Saturday, May 8 & 9

Acts 9:8-9

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* Well, Paul’s life has literally been upended. He was so sure he was doing what God wanted him to do. He was so sure that Christians were bad and needed to be eliminated. He was just so sure.

* Have you ever been sure about something and later found out that you were wrong? Or so sure about what some people were like and then found out that you were wrong? Talk about how that felt. Has the Christian Church ever taken a stand that was completely wrong? What was it and why do you think the Church changed its thinking?

* Paul was totally and completely wrong about Jesus and the Christian movement. Everything he thought was true, was not. He was not doing what God wanted him to do but the very opposite. How do you think Paul was feeling at that moment?

* As Paul got off the ground, he realized that he was blind. He couldn’t see. Do you think that blindness was a punishment or merely reflection of how Paul could not see Jesus as the Lord?

* Paul began his journey so sure of himself and what he believed. Now his journey has altered everything. He is blind. He has to be led by the hand. But never fear, God has some amazing things in store for him. Our lives have been so altered by COVID-19. What amazing things has God done for us as we continue “Safer at Home?”

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday – Thursday, May 6 & 7

Acts 9:3-7

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.“

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* It doesn’t get any more dramatic than these verses. A sudden light, Paul falling on the ground. And the voice from heaven saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Wow!

* Have you ever had a very bright light shine in your face? How did you react? It can be so unsettling. What about this time of “Safer at Home” has been unsettling to you?

* Do you think that Paul knew that it was Jesus who was talking to him? If he knew, why do you think he asked who it was?

* Jesus replied that it was indeed Jesus who was speaking, and he wanted to know why Paul had been persecuting him. What does it mean to persecute someone? How do you think our friend, Paul, might have been feeling at that time? What do you think Paul thought would happen to him? If you were Paul, what do you think might happen to you? If you were Jesus, what might you say or do to Paul? Be honest, now.

* But Paul didn’t get zapped by an angry God. He was told to get up and go into the city and wait to be told what to do. Was Paul relieved? Was he scared at what he might be told to do? What do you think God had planned for him?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Faith Five for Everyone

In the coming weeks we will be sharing a number of readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Acts is the story of the beginning of the Christian Church. From these stories, we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship  in the world today. Each of our 3 Bible Study Sections is longer and can be used for two days.

Monday – Tuesday, May 4 & 5
Acts 9:1-2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts:

* There is a lot packed into these two verses. First of all, we meet a man called Saul. Soon his name will be changed to Paul. Often in the Bible, God changes the name of someone to reflect their relationship with God.

* What is your name? Does it say something about who you are? If you could change your name, what would it be? Why?

* We read that Saul is “still” a threat to the people of the Way. The Way was one of the first names given to followers of Christ. Remember that Jesus called himself, “The way, the truth and the life.” Christians of that time were often perceived as a threat to the religion of the people. Saul was a devout and learned man of God and he thought this way. In fact, in the preceding chapter of Acts, the Christian, Stephen, was stoned to death by the religious leaders. Saul did not pick up a stone and throw it, but he held the coats of those who did, and we read that he approved of the murder of Stephen. We also read, “That Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house, dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.” Take some time to think about how much of a threat Paul was to the church. Have you ever said or done something for, what seemed the best of reasons, and then found out you were wrong? Talk about or think about that?

* Saul was determined to stamp out Christianity. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and take them, “bound,” back to Jerusalem for punishment. Does this guy, Saul, seem like someone who will become a fearless supporter of the Christian Church, or one who wrote a good part of our Bible? Does he have any qualities that might help?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Faith Five for Everyone

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a number of Readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume. As we move from the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we will spend some time with the stories of the ways the disciples started to carry out the ministry of Jesus as the church began to grow guided by the Holy Spirit. From these stories, we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship in the world today.

Friday – Saturday, May 1 & 2
Acts 3: 11-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous one and asked to have a murderer given to you and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* When something good has been done for us, the first response is to see the one who has performed the deed as the one to praise for the action.

* We are told that the man, who was more than 40 years old and had been healed, “clung” to Peter and John. That is a pretty vivid picture of his feelings of connection and gratitude. Has anyone ever done something for you that just made you want to run up to them and give them a hug?  What makes a person reach out to us and others who are in need?

* Peter wants to make clear to those gazing at them in wonder that it is not through their own power or piety that they had made the man well. How does Peter witness to the people about who is indeed responsible for this healing?

* Like Peter the church is called to witness to the presence of Jesus in the lives of those who follow him. We share the story of who Jesus is and the message of love he proclaimed. In what ways have you shared your story and witness with others?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Faith Five for Everyone

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a number of Readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume. As we move from the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we will spend some time with the stories of the ways the disciples started to carry out the ministry of Jesus as the church began to grow guided by the Holy Spirit. From these stories, we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship in the world today.

Wednesday – Thursday, April 29 & 30
Acts 3:5-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’  And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

One of the acts that Jesus performed in his ministry to people was that of healing. There are many stories in the Gospels of Jesus restoring people to health. They may not have been able to walk, or have been blind, or could not hear. And then there were all those people brought to Jesus when he was in their town whom he healed. Restoring people to health was a part of Jesus ministry. Here too we see at the beginnings of the church Peter and John carrying on that action as disciples.

* How do you think the man felt when he was told that they had “no silver or gold”?  What had been his expectations?   What do you think went through the man’s mind when Peter said to him, “what I have I give you”?  What might he have been expecting?

* And then Peter said to him, “Stand up and walk.”  Do you think he was surprised to hear that?  Which do you think surprised him more, those words or that they said “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth?”

* Peter makes clear whose power is at work in this act of healing. But he is a part of this action by taking him by the hand and raising him up. Do you ever feel God’s power working as you interact with people as a disciple of Christ?  How does our presence in this time of separation carry the message of Jesus to others even when we are unable to physically interact with people?

* The man’s response was one of jumping and leaping and praising God. Every part of him was involved in his joyful response. What might be our response to knowing that God is lifting us up even in this time when we feel that our world is turned upside down?  Does leaping and jumping help?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Faith Five for Everyone

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a number of Readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which is Luke’s second volume of the story of Jesus and the early church. The Gospel of Luke is the first volume. As we move from the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we will spend some time with the stories of the ways the disciples started to carry out the ministry of Jesus as the church began to grow guided by the Holy Spirit. From these stories, we can hear words to direct our church’s mission and our own discipleship in the world today.

Monday – Tuesday, April 27 & 28
Acts 3:1-4

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses.

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Once Jesus was no longer with his disciples, it was up to those disciples to carry on the mission of Jesus in their world. It must have seemed to be an overwhelming task for them to be sent out to do. As we hear the stories in Acts, we begin to see just how they came together, the challenges they faced and their dedication to the mission laid out before them. Their stories shed light on our mission as the church in our world today. In the verses from Acts 3, we hear Peter and John are going to the temple at the hour of prayer. Prayer is one of the marks of discipleship that is a focus for their days.

* Think about the ways that prayer is a part of your day’s routine. Do you set aside specific times for prayer? What are some of the things that are especially on your mind in these days of isolation from the normal routine of life?

* They encounter a man who was over 40 years old and had been lame from birth at one of the gates of the temple. What do you think was this man’s hope in his life? He was totally dependent on others. How did other people meet the needs he had? Is it easy to depend on others for those needs?

* What were his expectations of Peter and John? What did he need from them? When Peter looks at him “intently” and says “Look at us,” what do you expect to happen?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday, April 24
John 21: 4-6

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is another account of Jesus appearing to the disciples by the sea of Tiberias. What is surprising to the disciples when Jesus speaks to them.

* Have you ever heard the voice of Jesus speak to you?

* What things bring you comfort in this time, as we are spending lots of extra time/days at home with family and school, as we stay “Safer at Home?”

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday, April 22
John 20: 21-23

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What does it mean to the disciples that Jesus has called and claimed them, and he has blessed them, breathed into them and given them the gift of the Holy Spirit?

* What does the gift of the Holy Spirit that we have received in our Baptisms, of being called and claimed as one of God’s children, mean for you? For your family?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday, April 20
John 20: 19-20

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“On the evening of that first day of the week; when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Why are the disciples locked up in their home?

* What did the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and appearance change for the disciples in this moment?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Sunday, April 19
“Thine is the Glory” – verse 2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Thine is the Glory” – Verse 2

“No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life;
Life is naught without thee, aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquers, through thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won!”

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Verse 3 of our hymn talks about the journey of life that we are all on. It talks about doubt, about our need for God’s help, and how God brings us through times of trouble. Right now, COVID-19 seems to be the “Jordan” that we are traveling through.

* How do the words in the hymn remind us of how Jesus is present with us?

* What encouragement and assurances does it give?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Saturday, April 18
“Thine is the Glory” – verse 1

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Thine is the Glory” – Verse 1

“Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won!
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay,
Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.”

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is one of the Easter hymns in our hymnals (and one of my favorites!). We did not get to sing it together on Easter morning, but if you know it, go ahead and sing it! The verse uses military language to talk about Jesus’ resurrection, using words like victory and conquering. The enemy is death. And Jesus has won the victory over death for all of us.

* How does the promise of Jesus endless victory over death bring hope to our lives?

* How does it help us through a time like this?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Friday, April 17
Psalm 118:14-17

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.’
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.“

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving. If you have a Bible handy, read the whole psalm. It begins by thanking the Lord. It then talks about the desperate and difficult situation the psalmist was experiencing. The psalmist then turned to the Lord. “With the Lord on my side I do not fear” (verse 6). Then the psalmist proclaims that only with the help of God could he get through this difficult time.

* How is our Lord helping us through this difficult time?

* What would our psalm of thanksgiving look like? If you want to, write your own psalm thanking God for God’s love and help.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Thursday, April 16
Matthew 28:16-20

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is the first time the disciples have seen the Risen Lord. They went to Galilee because the women who first saw Jesus that Easter morning told them that Jesus wanted them to do this. We read that some of the disciples worshiped the Risen Lord but that others doubted. Talk about or think about why some of them doubted.

* When Jesus speaks to them, he gives them a commission and a promise. The commission is to go and tell people about Jesus. How can we do that when we are social distancing? What are some of the ways that we can reach out?

* Jesus also makes a powerful promise to us. He promises that he will always be with us. How does that promise give us encouragement today? Talk about or think about how Jesus can be present with us through other people.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Wednesday, April 15
Luke 24:13-16, 28-32

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him…As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is one of the Easter day happenings in Luke’s Gospel. Two disciples are on the road to Emmaus. They meet Jesus, who has been raised from the dead. But they do not recognize him. They invite him to stay with them. And it is when Jesus takes the bread and breaks it and blesses it that they realize he is the Risen Lord. This story reminds us of how our Lord is present with us in Holy Communion. Right now, we cannot join together in the Lord’s Supper. But this story also reminds us of how Jesus is present with us in our daily life, doing the things we do every day – like eating a meal, spending time together, and laughing together.

* How do you feel Jesus’ presence in your daily life (especially since we are socially distancing)?

* What activities make you feel God’s presence?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Tuesday, April 14
Matthew 28:1-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses

Review Monday’s Easter story from Matthew:

“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone , sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Both the angel and Jesus tell the women not to be afraid. Throughout the Bible we hear those words of encouragement many, many times, “Do not be afraid.” That is a very powerful Easter message for us, especially, at this time. How do those words help us to cope with the uncertainties of COVID-19?

* What assurances do they give to us?

* How can we comfort and assure others?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday, April 13
Matthew 28:1-10

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone , sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Notice how often fear is mentioned in our Easter verses. After the earthquake, the miraculous appearing of the angel, (whose appearance was like lightning) their fear is understandable. Would you have been afraid if you had been with the women that morning? Why or why not?

* The angel announces that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Would that have been easy to believe? Would you have believed the angel? Why or why not?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


EASTER
Sunday,  April 12

“Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds”

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds” – Verse 3

“Oh, fill us, Lord, with dauntless love,
Set heart and will on things above,
That we conquer through your triumph,
Grant grace sufficient for life’s day,
That by our lives we truly say,
‘Christ has triumphed! He is living!’
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord we are reminded that although Easter is one day in the church year, we live each day of our lives as people who by God’s grace rise each day to new life.

* Since we cannot come together to proclaim the resurrection I invite you to share with one another or in your thoughts these words: “Christ is Risen,” “He is Risen Indeed!” Think about what you are feeling as you do so.

* What do you think it means to have “grace sufficient for life’s day?”

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Saturday,  April 11
“Go to Dark Gethsemane”

During the week, the devotions focus on the Bible readings for that week. On weekends the devotions focus on hymns in our hymnals. Thinking of the words and the melody of familiar hymns can be a comfort. On weekends, our Faith Five will take a look at the verse of a hymn.

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Go To Dark Gethsemane” – Verse 4

“Early hasten to the tomb where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes. Savior, teach us so to rise.”

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Holy Saturday marks the time between Jesus’ death on the cross and the resurrection. As the day ends the Easter Vigil is celebrated, which moves us from darkness to the light of the resurrection.

* As we experience the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hear news reports and updates, and are left with the information in our isolation. What thoughts go through your mind in the “solitude and gloom” after such announcements?

* How does our Lord teach us to “rise” in the shadows that lengthen over us from day to day?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Friday, April 10
Matthew 27: 45-46, 50, 57, 59-60

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ That is ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ … Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. . . When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus… So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* On this Good Friday we find ourselves standing with the crowds and focusing on the figure of Jesus in his last moments on the cross. In this time of isolation and anxiety we all may feel alone not knowing which way to turn, perhaps experiencing feelings of abandonment. How do we react to Jesus words from the cross in the above verse?

* Is there a note of shared humanity and hope in them?

* What feelings do you have as you imagine the “great stone” rolled in front of the tomb?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Thursday, April 9
Matthew 26:26-29

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* As Jesus gathered with his disciples on what we have come to call Maundy Thursday evening before he was arrested and crucified on Good Friday, he ate together with them. It was a celebration of the Passover when the Hebrew people were released from bondage in Egypt and freed. Jesus transforms this meal into a moment when his disciples are united with him in a special way, as are we whenever we gather to celebrate this meal.

* How do you feel in this time of sheltering in when we are not able to gather in this way?

* What other ways does Jesus come to us and remain with us?

* How do we live as “little” Christs to those around us?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Wednesday, April 8
Matthew 22:34-39

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* The teachings of Jesus during this last week of his life are continually challenged by the religious leaders of the Jewish faith, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In these verses Jesus sums up the core of the faith life. Loving God involves our whole being, our heart, soul and mind. How do we show each aspect of our love in different ways that reflect our heart, our soul and our mind?

* Think about how they work together to produce a holistic picture of love. How does this affect our relationships with our neighbors? Is there anyone who is not a neighbor?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Tuesday, April 7
Matthew 21:42

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:

“Jesus said to them, ‘have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

In modern building, the cornerstone is usually a large stone at the corner of a building which has an inscription chiseled into it with words of dedication or a date. In Jesus’ day it was a supporting stone in the foundation of a building.

* What do you think Jesus is referring to when he says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”?

* How are the words which Jesus quotes borne out in the events of the days ahead for Jesus?

* What would you say are the foundations that your life is built on that renew you each day?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Monday, April 6
Matthew 21:12-13

This week in the church year is Holy Week. The Faith Five Devotions will pick up on some of the passages which relate what Jesus experienced after entering Jerusalem on Palm/Passion Sunday. It is a time when we think about Jesus actions for us and how our lives reflect the message of these days as Jesus journeys to the cross.

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:

“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer;’ but you are making it a den of robbers.”

3. Talk about and think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* This is the only passage in the Bible where we see Jesus acting out of anger in an aggressive manner toward the money changers. What do you think caused him to act in this way at this time?

* Have you ever felt so strongly about your belief in God that you were moved to take a stand for it?

* Anger is an emotion we may feel at certain times in this crisis. Does it help to know that Jesus also felt such emotions as he experienced the world around him?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Sunday, April 5
Hymn: “Great is They Faithfulness” –  Verse 2

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”- Verse 2

“Summer and winter and spring time and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

Text: Thomas O. Chisholm, 1886-1960
Music: William M. Runyan, 1870-1957

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What does the faithfulness of God in God’s creation look like?

* Name a favorite place you went to on a family trip.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Saturday, April 4
Hymn: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” – Verse 1

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn:

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”- Verse 1

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not, as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is- thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

Text: Thomas O. Chisholm, 1886-1960
Music: William M. Runyan, 1870-1957

3. Talk about and think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What does the faithfulness of God mean to me?

* Where do you see the faithfulness of God in your life?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Friday, April 3
Daniel 6: 19-23

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lion’s den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, ‘O king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.’

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

3. Talk about and think about how this Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* How did Daniel trust in God?

* How did God rescue Daniel?

* Name a time that you trusted in God?

* Has God ever rescued you or spared you from danger?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Thursday, April 2
Esther 4: 12-16

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

3. Talk about and think about how this Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* How is Esther courageous and brave?

* When have you needed to be courageous and brave?

* How can God help you in times when you are nervous or scared?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Wednesday, April 1
Luke 2: 8-12


1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all people on whom his favor rests.'”

3. Talk about and think about how this Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What does the Christmas story mean to you?

* Name one of your favorite Christmas memories.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Tuesday, March 31
1 Samuel 17: 37-40

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. Saul said to David, Go and the Lord be with you. Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. I can not go in these, he said to Saul, because I am not used to them. So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”

 3. Talk about and think about how this Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Was David worried or scared to face the Philistine giant named Goliath?

* As David prepares to battle with Goliath, where did David’s trust and confidence come from?

* Where do we put our trust and confidence?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Monday, March 30
Genesis 22:15-18

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

3. Talk about and think about how this Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What does it mean to you, when you look up at the night sky and stars, and consider God’s covenant with Abraham? Can you count them all?

* How is God going to Bless Abraham?

* When have you felt blessed by God in your life?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of the cross on your forehead.

 


Sunday, March 29
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the words (or sing) the hymn.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (verse 3)
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In his arms he’ll take and shield you, you will find a solace there.

3. Talk about or think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* It sure seems as if we are feeling “weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care.” COVID-19 has made feel us all worried and stressed. So much seems out of our control. What does it mean to say that Jesus is our refuge at this time? How does that help us?

* The words of the hymn say that Jesus takes us in his arms and shields us. What a great comfort! How can that thought help us in the days ahead?

4. Pray for each other and all in need.  Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Saturday, March 28
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Loren and I read a devotion each day called “God Pause” from Luther Seminary. During the week, the devotions focus on the Bible readings for that week. On weekends the devotions focus on hymns in our hymnals. When I am anxious and stressed and have trouble falling asleep, I often think of the words of hymns. After nearly 40 years of ministry, I know a lot of hymns! Thinking of the words and the melody of familiar hymns can be a comfort. On weekends, our Faith Five will take a look at the verse of a hymn.

1. Share highs and lows.

2. Read the words of (or sing) the hymn.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (verse 1)
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

3. Talk about or think about how the words of the hymn might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* What do friends do for us? How can we depend on them? What do you think it means to call Jesus our friend?

* The hymn assures us that Jesus doesn’t just want to hear from us when we are feeling good. Jesus assures us that prayer is honestly bringing Jesus our joys, our griefs, our fears, our hopes, and everything else. What would you like to share with your friend, Jesus, today?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Friday, March 27
Joshua 24:15b

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verse:
“Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

3.Talk about or think about how the Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

The people of Israel are ready to settle down in the land God promised to them. Their leader, Joshua, sets them an example to follow in this new land. He vows that he and his family will serve the Lord. In this new land of social distancing, how can we still serve the Lord?

And how can we continue to be good neighbors when we cannot be with neighbors right now?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Thursday, March 26
Exodus 13:21-22

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
“The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”

3. Talk about or think about how the Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Moses did indeed go back to Egypt and followed God’s command to lead the people of Israel out of slavery and into the wilderness towards the promised land. God promises the people that God will be with them to lead them in a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire at night.

* We know that God promises to be with us and to lead us on this journey. In what ways do we “see” God leading us? Think about or talk about some of the “directions” in which God is leading us.

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Wednesday, March 25
Exodus 3:1-3, 4b-5

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

3. Talk about or think about how the Bible verses might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* It has been many years since Moses left the land of Egypt after killing an Egyptian. He has begun a new life. God breaks into this new life and calls Moses to return to Egypt and lead his people to the promised land. What might Moses have been thinking when he saw the burning bush? How does God come to us, in the midst of our lives and our fears and our hopes?

* Moses is told that he is standing on holy ground. We always think of the church as a holy place, but we will not be able to be in our church for a while. How might you describe a holy place? Where do you see holy places in your lives?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other.

 


Tuesday, March 24
Genesis 28:10-13, 15

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it… And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’”

3. Talk about or think about how the Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Jacob is not just in Beersheba on vacation. He is running away from home. He has a guilty conscience because he has tricked his father and cheated his brother. He is alone and he is afraid. God breaks into the life of this miserable young man with a dream and a promise. How does God reach out to us during this scary time?

* Who are the people, that God surrounds us with, who help us when we are afraid?

* How does God’s promise, “Know that I am with you,” help us right now?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself.

 


Monday, March 23
Genesis 12:1-4a

1. Share your highs and lows.

2. Read the Bible verses:
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.”

3. Talk about or think about how the Bible verse might speak to your highs and lows.
Some thoughts to consider:

* Abram is being called by God to leave the life that he has known to go to an unknown land that God will eventually show him. How does that speak to our journey these days as we deal with the coronavirus?

* God promises to bless Abram. How does God continue to bless us?

4. Pray for each other and all in need. Pray for each other’s highs and lows.

5. Bless each other or yourself by making the sign of your cross on your forehead.