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.


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 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.