Week 1 - Wednesday | April 22, 2020 Written by Diane Seddon I have always said “nothing is so bad there isn’t something good about it“. I’ve used this phrase many times with my children when they were growing up to encourage them to keep on trying and to look for the good in every situation. I still say it to myself. That phrase has never been any more valuable than it is nowadays. It’s a mindset that is very valuable in our current reality. We can choose to think about what we can’t do or we can choose to think about what we can do. Joseph is an important figure in the book of Genesis. In chapters 37 through the end of Genesis. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and he rose to become vizier of Egypt, the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh where his presence in all this caused Israel to leave Canaan and settle in Egypt. Genesis 50:20 my paraphrase… What was intended for harm God can use for good. As God can use the current circumstances that are taking away the daily “busyness“ that we can all get wrapped up in and allowing us time to best of all, “be still and know He is God” Psalm 46:10 and Exodus 14:14 the LORD will fight for you, you only need to be still. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best out of everything that comes their way. Tough times never last, but tough people do. - Robert Schuller The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up. - Mark Twain God I believe, has a redemptive purpose for everything that happens to His true believers. The Keystone verse for this is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purposes. Notice that the verse does NOT say that everything that happens to Gods children is good. It DOES say however, that God can and does work IN all things for the good of His children. Our job in all of this is to lean in closer to God trusting in his omnipotence and receiving his peace. Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Week 2 - Monday | April 27, 2020 Written by Jane Maybray Last December on the flight home from a wedding in Texas, a young man was sitting in the seat next to me. He started writing immediately after he sat down and continued writing on up to take-off. He didn’t communicate at all to begin with and he went back to writing as soon as we were in the air. When the flight attendant came with snacks, we acknowledged each other. I took the opportunity to ask him if he was writing a book. His response was a most pleasant surprise. Thinking back now just brings a smile and a precious memory. Rather than a book, he was writing down things he was thankful for! He had made a commitment upon getting up in the morning to write down 3 things. I thought to myself, how refreshing. A young man filled with gratitude! Likewise, before he goes to bed at night, he writes down three things from the day he is thankful for. Some of the things he mentioned for which he was thankful were the clouds he could see out of the plane’s window, his girlfriend who had taken him to the airport, and the friend he was coming to visit in Florida. In further conversation, I learned he graduated from the University of Florida (Gator) which delighted me since I have a Gator grandson. He is a speech therapist who work primarily with older stroke patients and truly enjoys it. Our conversation continued until we landed. I don’t believe for a second his sitting beside me was a coincidence. There is no doubt in my mind that God bestowed on me a very special blessing and a wonderful reminder to me of ALL I have to be thankful for. I will forever cherish that brief encounter with Sean. It is permanently on my list of gratefulness. SCRIPTURE | 1 Chronicles 23:30, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 1:3, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:15-17 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Week 2 - Friday | May 1, 2020 Written by Suzy Bryant As we experience “social distancing” and remain isolated in our homes away from our friends, this old familiar song comes to my mind. Jesus can and does walk with us, no social distancing required. And he is walking right next to us through this Covid 19 experience and he will see us through it. He Walks With Me by Merle Haggard I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear The son of god discloses. And he walks with me and he talks with me And he tells me I am his own And the joy we share As we tarry there None other has ever known. He speaks and the sound of his voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing And the melody that he gave to me Within my heart is ringing. And he walks with me and he talks with me And he tells me I am his own And the joy we share As we tarry there None other has ever known. I'd stay in the garden with him Though the night around me is falling But he bids me go through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling
Week 3 - Wednesday | May 6, 2020 Reflection on "Perfection" | Written by Jane Dunn Scriptures: John 8:3-12 - The teachers of the law and Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery…….Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery…..Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?.....but Jesus wrote in the sand, “Let any one of you who is without sin cast the first stone.” John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Now, we are living in unprecedented times. Never before has any of us endured such a looming threat as the mysterious predator, COVID-19. Each of us struggles with a new reality that places stress on our faith and relationships with friends and family. This circumstance challenges us to examine deeply what we love and how we are able to love through “social distancing”. As Christians, these circumstances call us to a WWJD* moment. Jesus shows us many examples where he made difficult choices that were often in conflict with the religious practices and mores of the day, such as the one quoted above. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement suggests that as followers of Christ we have embarked on a journey toward “perfection” that involves living in the moment as we grow through imitating Christ-like responses to daily roadblocks and challenges. Wesley defined perfection as “the image of God in man”. Friends, never has there been a more opportune time for us to be that reflector of the image of God. We must look at this period in our lives as God’s gift that allows us to grow in our faith and service to God. Like never before, needs and challenges abound all around us. May God bless and lead us into compassionate caring that nurtures us and those in need around us during these very difficult times. *What Would Jesus Do
Week 4 - Monday | May 11, 2020 Written by Marie Watson SCRIPTURE | Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God (one of my favorite verses) During this difficult time as we stay in our homes our spirits may need lifting. Most days I try to call someone and try to encourage them. I have come away from every phone call with my own spirit soul being encouraged. Interesting how God watches over every little detail in the world and He directs our paths. As a young child my first church was the First Methodist downtown. I loved to hear the choir sing and especially when I heard the words of “In The Garden” These words resonated in my heart and soul to this day. I have walked with Him every day. Perhaps this is the reason I have always been an outside person. In The Garden by C. Austin Miles; Written in 1912 I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear, Falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, And He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known. May each and everyone stay safe and pray for our church family.
Week 4 - Friday | May 15, 2020 Written by Tammy Burton Devotional 1 Read Genesis 1. Just imagine the miracle of creation! We are always moving so quickly through life that we sometimes miss the beauty of our miraculous world. God created our planet and His Spirit moved over the surface of the waters. He is moving still through, around, and over our Earth. He is not surprised by any of our earthly trials and wants us to believe He will care for us regardless of them. Throughout the ages there have been times of disaster and disease. He reigns supreme over them all! Pray: Dear mighty God, see us in our pain and sickness. Heal our world and surround us with your love. Calm our anxieties with your peace. Help us to remember your power and glory. Amen Devotional 2 Read I Colossians 4. Paul wrote many of his letters from a prison cell. This passage was one of these. Know that God’s peace comes from within. If we seek peace in our fallen world, we will breed anxiety. Paul knew this and put his faith to work always. We as believers of Christ Jesus have this same ability and gift. Pray: Gracious and loving God, help me to grow in faith closer to you. Help me to keep my heart firmly focused on Jesus in order to find your peace that passes understanding. Help me to remember in every situation to allow you peace to dwell in me. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
Week 1 - Monday | April 20, 2020 Written by Mary Beth Elmore SCRIPTURE | Read Psalm 23. In this passage, through the imagery of a shepherd, David reflects on the many benefits the Lord gave him in the dangers of life, and concluded that God’s persistent, loving protection would restore him to full communion. OBSERVATION | "…for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me." The rod and staff are the shepherd’s equipment to protect the sheep. Where ever I go, I find great comfort knowing God is always near me and the protection and power of His rod and staff are with me. I am never without God’s rod and staff! I am secure and I need not fear evil for His rod and staff are with me. The Lord has given me the blessing of knowing that as I walk in a world that is not my home, my Lord will use His rod and staff to protect me when I encounter evil, to nudge me in the right way to go when I ask for His guidance; and to keep me close to him when I wander on my own. I can experience complete rest, peace, and comfort as I trust in the Lord, our Shepherd, who provides for me and protects me with the power of His rod and staff. APPLICATION | There are many times when I was comforted by the Lord’s presence and protection and found safety and comfort and peace walking closely to God. I reflect on the times when I wandered off the path of righteousness and how the Lord used His rod and staff to nudge me, guide me, and pull me closer to Himself. Have you felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit, the guidance of scripture in the Holy Bible, and the draw of closeness to God through times of prayer? What part of your and my life do we need to surrender to our Shepherd Lord? With whom might we share this passage about God’s love, power, and protection? PRAYER | Thank you, Lord, for reminding us that believers are never in situations which you are not aware of-- for you never leave or forsake your people. We lift the words of Hebrews 13:5 up to you.
Week 1 - Friday | April 24, 2020 When Trouble Comes | Written by Terry Neal It was 2:30am. The chirping seemed as loud as a train whistle! Some bird was singing as loud as it could, not an alarm, but a joyous song. At first I was upset that the mocking jay was disturbing my slumber. I could understand if some predator was creeping in on its nest, but this bird was singing with pure joy in its heart. He or she sang for an hour and a half. I heard every song in its repertoire. As I rolled and tossed trying to get comfortable, first pulling the pillow over my head, then laying on my stomach, then rolling over on my back. Still the sharp joyous song penetrated the feathers of my pillow. Finally, I pulled my head out from under the pillow and just laid there and enjoyed the song that God placed in the heart of the mocking bird. Even in the gloom of the darkest night, some people, some birds, find a song to sing that just bubbles out. Sometimes their testimonies disturb our slumber and we resent what they have to say. If you yield yourself to Christ, their joy becomes your joy. Even in the darkest night some people find a song to sing. “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin for to carry me home! Swing low, sweet chariot…” was sung by a people that were being beat and forced into slave labor. Still they sang. Paul and Barnabas were in prison. They were whipped and left in chains. Still they sang and praised God in the darkest night. The jailer and his whole household became believers because these men found joy even in the darkest of times. No matter what life is throwing your way, remember, “To live is Christ, to die is gain…” said Apostle Paul. You are not alone. Let the song in your heart ring out! You can’t lose with Jesus, the Christ! “Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said to the people who sat on the hillside hungry for what He had to say.
Week 3 - Monday | May 4, 2020 Praying for the Baby | Written by Marcia Perry Clif and I have two children and five grandchildren. All of them have been healthy for most of their lives. We feel very blessed to have such a nice, healthy family. Our second grandson, Joshua, and his wife, McKenzie, were expecting their first baby in March of this year. That would make us great-grandparents and that sounded exciting. The due date was March 20, but nothing happened. On March 25, McKenzie was induced so she could have the baby soon. After a long and hard labor, the little baby girl was born. By now it was March 26, so that’s the official birth date. The baby struggled to come out of the birth canal so the doctors had to assist. When this little baby girl was born there were complications, serious ones. She had a seizure during this time, was gasping for a breath, etc. The doctors made a decision to immediately transfer the baby to a pediatric hospital. She was hooked up to IV’s, feeding tube, oxygen, and several more things. The first photo of the baby was difficult for me to see. It was time to start (really) praying for the baby. I contacted some family, home fellowship group, friends and neighbors, prayer sisters, asking all to please pray for this baby. Thankfully she weighed 7 lbs. 9 oz., so I felt that was in her favor. Our daughter, Laura, (who is now a grandmother!) kept in touch with the progress of the baby’s condition. I, in turn, tried to keep all of my people informed and kept telling them to pray hard for the baby. In the meantime, due to the corona virus, Joshua was not working since the company was closed. He was able to visit McKenzie in one hospital and then drive to visit the baby. Eventually McKenzie was released with the caution that she could not drive. Joshua, the driver, took her to see the baby and then home to rest; afterwards he would go back to the hospital to visit the baby. Only one parent could visit the baby at a time. McKenzie was pumping so she could take milk to the baby. That was such a good thing, and the baby gained a pound the first week! Prayers are wonderful! After 10 days the baby was released to go home, happy parents and everyone else! We praised the Lord for this precious little girl. A few days later, they took the baby to the pediatrician for a check up, and she said the baby was in great condition! McKenzie said but what about all of these complications? The doctor said if you had not told me I would never have known because your baby is just fine! Thank you all for the wonderful prayers! Joshua and McKenzie call the baby Avery, I call her God’s little miracle.
Week 3 - Friday | May 8, 2020 Thanks and Praise | Written by Sandy Thomas Lord, Scripture says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. We confess that we find the words “in everything” challenging at such a time as this when we are in the throes of a global crisis that is occurring at the same time the church is verging on division and seeking the right way forward. Lord, this trial is painful. It hurts us and it hurts us to see others suffer and die. Please forgive us for stumbling over the words “in everything”. The truth is you did not promise us a life without trials, but you did promise to always be with us. What more could we ask for than to have you, Almighty God, our Loving Father always with us? Thank you, dear Lord. Help us to remember as bearers of your name in everything to give thanks to you because it is your will for us in Christ Jesus. Even though we cannot see your invisible hand at work in these circumstances, thank you for empowering us through the Holy Spirit to feel your presence, and know that you are at work in a mighty way and you will unfold your plan when the time is right. Lord God, Satan desires to steal our joy, to separate us from you and cause us to lose hope, but we agree with the Apostle Paul who was convinced that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Because of your great love for us, we give you thanks and praise even in our darkest times. As painful as the trials are, oh God, we thank you for conforming us to Christ-likeness through trials and experiences that you allow in our lives.1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice . . . so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Heavenly, Loving Father, we also thank you that you are able to use our trials to make us into a minister of your grace. 2 Cor. 1:3-4: “Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.”
Week 4 - Wednesday | May 13, 2020 Written by Jane Dunn SCRIPTURE | Micah 6:7-8 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. It is tempting during times of personal adversity, like what we’re facing with the Corona Virus, to ask the question, “Why?” Has God deserted all of mankind? This scourge appears to attack world populations indiscriminately, striking fear into the hearts of everyone, regardless of their faith. Our human nature reacts with a natural response somewhat like the Micah scripture, above. We might paraphrase our thoughts in this way: ‘Okay, God. I know that I’ve messed up and could have been better…so what can I do to make it up to you, so this punishment will go away?” Many of us, myself included, may become self-satisfied with volunteer activities, seeing them more as a personal accomplishment than an act of love and compassion to those in need. We may think, “Haven’t I done enough of what God expects? Isn’t it time for someone else to take over?” What that kind of thinking forgets is that we are called to be born anew, so that ‘acting justly, loving mercy and walking with God’ is an integral part of our Christlike self rather than an exercise in earning points. It is humbling that all of us face this adversity together, each dependent on the other, regardless of ethnic or social level to reach out to those in need. Each day we receive new lessons on the value of loving and caring for all of our earthly family. Thanks be to God! Pandemic Panacea 2020 The world cries out Birds chirp and fly Our spirits shout To the silent stalker….”Why?” The chorus is still Our hopes in despair Now “zooming” to fill The void with new care. Do we look past the needy Our status now doomed? Conflicted and greedy In a world full of gloom? No! The earth is still coping All nature responds Opened eyes are now hoping As humanity bonds Our spirits are tested For the past we still yearn We grow and are bested As lessons are learned.
Week 2 - Wednesday | April 29, 2020 The Prototype for You | Written by Terry Neal I find it amazing how people look at Jesus of Nazareth and think that we can’t live with that power. We keep seeing ourselves as failures instead of victorious people. “We are more than conquerors…” says the Word of God. So many Christians cop-out on their lives and see themselves failing in the Christian life every day. Jesus came not only to show us the Heavenly Father, whose image you were created in, but to show us how to live. Jesus gave up his divinity to live among us as we live. He was a poor man that didn’t even have a pillow upon which to lay his head. He was a man who did not have any power. He was not a Pharisee or Sadducee. He was an illegitimate child born of an unwed mother. He was homeless. He could not claim any land as his. He was not Joseph’s son. He was despised by his own half brothers and sisters when they tried to get him to stop preaching. And you think you had a rough start. Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in action in Him and in us. Jesus told his disciples that the work that he did, they would also do because he was going to be with his Father, who is in Heaven. He was going to send the Holy Spirit to live in us. We are to be the Holy Temple. We are called to be PERFECT! When Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and led him into the wilderness to do battle with Satan for 40 days. The Holy Spirit kept giving Jesus scripture verses to use to overcome the temptations that the Devil was hitting Jesus with. Several days ago we celebrated Maundy Thursday. Many Christians don’t know what to make of that special night. They see it only as the night that Jesus first gave us the ceremony of Holy Communion. That night was so much more! Several days earlier, Jesus went up on a mountain top and took with him, Peter, James and John. There on that mountain, the four of them met Elijah and Moses who appeared to them when Jesus took on his heavenly image and glowed with the holiness of God. It was like He entered a different dimension into eternity. At that time Moses and Elijah explained to Jesus the events that were going to come at Passover. When the four of them came down off the mountain, they found the nine disciples powerless and frustrated. As the band of men headed to Jerusalem, they fought and bickered among themselves about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom that Jesus was going to establish in Jerusalem. Their angers flared as they learned that the mother of James and John went to Jesus to ask for places of honor for her boys. Peter and John prepared the Upper Room for the Passover Observance. As the disciples entered the room, they refused to wash one another’s feet. They all sat at the table, reclining on pillows and looking at dirty feet. Jesus got up from the table and took off his outer garments, girted himself with a towel, the dress of the slave, and proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet. This was to be an example for his disciples to follow from that day forward. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of servants and slaves. The greatest in the kingdom is the servant! As the youngest of the disciples, John would have asked Jesus a number of questions helping to retell the story of the Passover Miracle that took place in Egypt during the time of Moses. It was during this ceremony that Judas was served the bitter sauce and greens by Jesus as he told them that one of them would betray him. Judas left the meal with the bitterness still in his mouth as he went to get the Temple Guards. Nothing would ever be the same after that night for any of the Apostles. Jesus explained his sacrifice of his broken body and the new contract with God that was purchased with his blood. The words of Elijah and Moses probably rung in Jesus’ ears as he explained his sacrifice. They sung a hymn together and they all went to a garden spot on the Mount of Olives. It was there that a mortal man fought the eternal battle for not only his soul, but yours and mine. It was a battle that was raged for hours as Jesus fought for his own life and his own will. He felt all alone in this battle of anguish and his will. Twice he tried to get his closest friends, the ones who heard from Moses and Elijah the story of what was going to happen to him, to pray with him. They were tired and consumed with their own issues. They slept. Finally, with drops of blood seeping out of his pours, Jesus conceded and prayed, “Lord,” not daddy, “Thy will be done!” It was when Christ finally yielded his will to God, that God sent His angels to minister to His Son. He was given strength to survive what the next several hours held for him. Understand, when you finally have your will broke, it is then that you are ready to be ministered to. It is then that you will be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, he asked them, “Who do you seek?” They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He replied, “I am he!” The soldiers all fell to the ground. They could not get up. Jesus was letting them know that they could not take him by force. Peter saw them all fall to the ground and yelled, “Shall we fight?” as he took his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. When the enemy was down, Peter was ready hack away. Jesus then restored the ear of the servant and had Peter put his sword away. It was when Jesus yielded himself totally to His Father’s Will that Jesus was ready to put feet to his words. He let the soldiers get up and he willingly went with them and allowed himself to be beaten and hung on the cross. “Never the less, not my will, but Thine be done.” That is the prayer that can only be sincerely offered by a life filled with the Holy Spirit. We talk about being CRUCIFIED with Christ, but we go to the cross fighting and screaming. First we must go through the Garden Experience and yield ourselves to the Lord’s Will for our lives. He will lead the lambs that follow His voice. Don’t ask God to bless what you are doing. Ask God to help you do what He is blessing. Maundy Thursday, then Good Friday, and at last, Resurrection Sunday! Hallelujah!


Church of Palm Beach Gardens

9625 North Military Trail Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410