As you read this, Terrific T and I are sheltering in place per separate ordinances issued by the county and the city we call home. Dallas County issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order Sunday night that went into effect at 11:59 (CST) Monday, March 23 and extends to April 3. Dallas County will no doubt increase the length of their ordinance. Today, a number of surrounding counties are following suit. The City of Richardson issued a shelter-in-place order that remains in effect until April 30.
Since I’m The Devotional Guy™, I thought it might be appropriate to begin chronicling our collective experience of sheltering in place and offering a daily devotional in hopes of encouraging you during this crazy time. It is imperative that we don’t allow social distancing to lead to social isolation. The gift of technology helps us stay connected in ways we didn’t dream of in days gone by.
One of the many positives I have seen arise during this tumultuous period is the ingenuity and innovation of the Church in reaching people, providing worship services, and reassuring a fearful global community. While not perfect, the response from the Church amid the COVID-19 Crisis has been remarkable.
Today’s key scripture passage for our first installment of The COVID-19 Devotional is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Jesus understands all too well what it means to face great opposition. In his day, Jesus faced great opposition from the leaders of the people, the Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees. Like a virulent disease, they sought to kill the message that Jesus brought to the people. In the sentences leading up to our key scripture, we see that they tried to trick Jesus into making public statements that would invalidate His earthly ministry and render mute any claims that He was the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah. Remember, Satan seeks to rob, kill and destroy. The Devil seeks to do that to us today with as much vigor as he sought to extinguish the redemptive ministry of Christ. Jesus saw the leaders for who they were, not for who they claimed to be.
First up were the Pharisees and their friends, the Herodians. They attempted to trick Jesus regarding the imperial tax levied on the Jewish people by the Romans. Jesus perceiving the malice in their hearts, promptly rebuked them. The Sadducees, thinking they were smarter than their rivals, decided they would challenge Jesus with a theological hot button topic, similar to how some challenge us when we are attempting to share the Gospel. But Jesus was not caught off guard by their feeble efforts to discredit Him. Lastly, in one final attempt to invalidate Him, an expert in the law asked Jesus a question intended to test Him. Again, for the final time in this round of attacks, responding with grace and wisdom, Jesus demonstrated the validity of His messianic claims, silencing His critics.
Much like Jesus did in His day, we face an Enemy bent on robbing, killing, and destroying us. He stops at nothing to quench our spirit, drown our hope, and extinguish our love. But, do not fear, for our God is greater.
The virus, originating in China some time in late November 2019, has disrupted the everyday life of millions of people around the World. The virus unleashed a wave of sorrow and pain upon humanity in addition to causing some serious gnashing of teeth in populations all around the globe. Difficult times like these will prompt us to draw nearer to God or pull further away from Him. Some will look to immediately to the Lord for wisdom and guidance. Others will undoubtedly see the virus as another sign that God doesn’t exist and reason that if He does He sure doesn’t care about us. Perhaps you feel like the Lord of Creation has abandoned you. Let me reassure you: nothing could be further from the truth.
God is very present in this moment of our current century’s greatest global health crisis. He is near. The question is, will we draw near to Him during our time of need? Will we use this time to demonstrate love to others because God first loved us or will we miss out on a chance to show the World that as followers of Christ, we are first and foremost about acting in love. Love is all about action. Like a Bible, love left sitting on a shelf is void of its full potential. Let us seize the day and shower those we interact with during this time of social distancing with love.
Time of Reflection:
- How is the COVID-19 crisis impacting your relationship with God?
- How is the COVID-19 crisis influencing your ability to love others?
- How are you drawing closer to God during this crisis?
- How are you showing love to others during this crisis?
- What are you doing to stay socially connected while practicing social distancing?
Heavenly Father, hallowed be Your name. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us of our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil. For Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.
May this devotional remind you that God is in control even when our life is spinning out of control. We can trust in the Lord because He is trustworthy and faithful. You and I aren’t alone. God is with us. Whatever we’re going through, we can know that the Lord will ultimately use it for good, drawing us nearer to Him, growing us spiritually, and showering us with His love in the process. Be confident in the anchor of your salvation, who, through His Spirit, intercedes on your behalf. God remains for us, not against us.
Know, with certainty, that during these uncertain times, Terri and I are praying for you and your loved ones.
Go in peace and be well.
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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To experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This gift from God is available to all who ask. Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?