Weekly Devotions May 4-8

Friday Devotion with Rebecca Shepherd

Devotion Pocket Verses

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

About 4 years ago, I started meeting with a small group of women for Bible studies. We read and study all kinds of books. Some books focused on discipleship practices and some on books of the Bible. As I read the Bible more, certain verses would connect with me and I wanted to ponder them. I am not someone who can easily memorize verses and recite them at the drop of a hat. I needed a way to reference a verse throughout the day, so I started writing verses on 3x5 cards and put them in my pocket. I call them pocket verses.

I now have a collection of verses on 3x5 cards. Back then, I would put them in a back pocket when I was getting ready for work. Sometimes take them out to read during the day and sometimes just know that they were there. It helped me keep God with me throughout the day.

I don’t go into the office or leave the house much right now because of the pandemic. Today, I wrote Matthew 6:33 on a 3x5 card while reading for my Bible class. It dawned on me that I need to modify my practice to fit today’s circumstances. Instead of putting it on the pile to be put in a pocket I no longer use, I put it on my computer monitor. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner.

As life changes, as times change, I need to change my discipleship practices to make them work in the moment. Now Matthew 6:33 will be on my computer monitor to ponder when I need a break and remember that God is with me and to seek his kingdom.

The Church made a quick change to online services which is so wonderful to not miss out because we cannot gather at church. My Bible study group meets weekly using Zoom. What discipleship practices might you need to modify today to be intentional about your faith journey?

I pray that you know in your heart God is with you, you are a Beloved child of God and you can modify your faith practices to seek out his kingdom.

Thursday Devotion with Pastor Ellen

Tuesday Devotion with Pastor Will (and the VIP Youth Choir)

Your pastors and several lay members of the church have been offering daily devotions for the past few weeks. One of the aims of the devotions is to offer a word of encouragement or inspiration. I have been inspired by so many of the devotions that members of the church have submitted. I thank you for the ways we can encourage one another and stay connected in this ongoing season where we have had to keep our distance. So often we look for something new-- a new thought, a new idea, when often the inspiration we need is in something rather old and comfortable.

This Sunday at the end of our worship, we heard members of Voices of Praise sing “Jesus Loves Me”. This is one of the first hymns that many of us ever sang as a child. We probably were taught this by a Sunday School teacher, a grandparent or children’s choir director. I am guessing we first learned of God’s love for us by singing this short little song. “Jesus Loves Me” is a song that we never outgrow and a song we need to hear from time to time. I am so thankful our teenagers were not too cool to sing what some people might call a children’s song.

When I first started in ministry, I was asked to lead a devotion in a nursing home. I prepared a talk and brought my guitar to lead the small gathering in song. When I realized that I wasn’t connecting with many people in the room, I changed my content and just staring singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace.” We then shared Psalm 23 and recited The Lord’s Prayer. When these familiar words were being offered, the residents became more engaged. Their mouths started to move as they sang along to words they clearly had not outgrown.

The Voices of Praise youth choir offered us an old hymn in a wonderfully new way and it was stirring. Instead of having you try to fast forward through Sunday's whole worship service to listen to it again, we wanted you to have it more readily available so you could hit play as many times as you like or even share it with others. Our teenagers may have wondered why Jason Moon asked them to sing such a simple song, but we are thankful they did. What a gift we were given on Sunday, and it is a joy to offer it to you again. Thank you Jason Moon and members of Voices of Praise.

Jesus Loves Me withe VIP Youth Choir

Monday Devotion with Joyce Dantzler
As we experience the “New Normal” of staying home, social distancing, frequent washing of hands, not touching faces, and more, I find more time to ponder and reflect upon my simple day to day experiences.

As a source of exercise, I walk throughout my neighborhood. I have seen sidewalk chalk decorations by children as a common sight. These decorations have carefully selected colors and great attention to detail. The art reflects “hope” for vacations to come, happy faces and kisses to loved ones separated by the pandemic, animals, and even solving addition and subtraction problems.

Although the children have put a lot of time and effort into the chalk art, the sun will soon fade and the rain will wash away their creations - - “Here today and gone tomorrow.”

Many of the things we spend our time and attention on are as short-lived as a child’s sidewalk chalk art. We plan for tomorrow while wasting today. The problem is that we are not promised tomorrow. All we can be certain of is the present moment.

Matthew 6 shares Jesus instructing believers not to worry about tomorrow. We need to focus our attention on things that make a difference in eternity. Many things such as financial gain, praise, popularity, etc. are like works of art made with sidewalk chalk - - though pleasant in the moment, they are very temporary.

As we experience “more time” on our hands - - what are we focusing on? How are we spending our time and energy? Are we working on something permanent or could a little rain “wash it all away?”

Heavenly Father - - Help me to focus my life on you and the way you want me to live. This would make the appropriate things appear important. I ask that you give me discernment about how I spend my time and energy. I want to keep my gaze on you as hope for the future. Amen

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