Covid-19 Devotion 4 from Pastor Bill

Grace, peace, joy, and good health to us all! Let me first express gratitude to everyone who attended the online broadcast of the weekly worship service. We built a virtual community of faith that had worshipers joining us from Texas and Iowa, and perhaps points even further away. My gratitude, of course, extends to Rays, Ruth, Wayne, Bob, Kris, and Bill S. They’ve all signed on to produce a service on the 29th! We have a great team!You know we’re taking a financial hit as a church as we all are because of the economic impact of Covid-19. Here’s what Kathy and I are doing. You may decide to join us. If you have the resources, calculate your pledge or giving intention through May 31st and offer that amount over the next few weeks by mail or e-giving at That would be key to keeping us on track with critical expenses. Remember, Jesus told his disciples as he ascended to the right hand of God that troubled times were ahead, but his voice was the cure. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I saw it on a Facebook post–a photograph of a passage of Scripture highlighted in yellow. The text was 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:If I shut up the sky, so that there is no rain; or if I order locusts to devour the land; or if I send an epidemic [deb-er, pestilence] of sickness among my people; then, if my people, who bear my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land. The yellow highlighting is the implication: the nation and the world are sin-sick, and novel coronavirus Covid-19 is God’s strategy for bringing them back to faith. It’s not wise to ridicule what others believe. It is wise to comment on how Scripture is used or misused to support what one believes. Now read the next two verses from 2 Chronicles 7:15-16: Now my eyes will be open, and my ears will pay attention to the prayer made in this place. For now, I have chosen and sanctified this house [bah’-yith, Temple] so that my name can be there forever; my eyes and heart will always be there.The first passage makes sense to religious people. There’s a sort of religious logic in it. God is love and justice. When we violate God’s laws, we are punished as we punish criminals for violations of law. Gov. Wolf said last week that violators of today’s mandatory closure of “non-essential businesses” will be subjected to various levels of punishment. Makes sense, right? And how does one punish an entire nation or planet? Plague! God plagued Egypt and Israel. In 1918, influenza plagued the world. This strategy was the subject of my first devotion; please refer to it. I want to address a different issue. The second passage, which was visible in the Facebook post but not highlighted in yellow (!), has to be read carefully. God announced the strategy in the first passage and the remedy in the second passage, when the people return to God, make their prayers, and God’s name is praised forever–in the Temple–God will be with them. And there it is–the Temple! Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. 2 Chronicles dates to the time after that destruction and the anticipated rebuilding of the Temple, the Herod Temple. That Temple, too, was destroyed in the year 70. There is no Temple in which God’s name is praised, nor God’s eyes and heart dwell. So much for religious logic! Avoid cherry-picking texts. Always examine the context. See the character of God in Jesus Christ (Devotion 1!) and balance texts with broad readings of the Scriptures. God’s comfort far outweighs God’s anger. Look at Deuteronomy 31:8-9: The Lord will lead you into the land [and] will always be with you and help you, so don’t ever be afraid of your enemies. Moses wrote down all of these laws and teachings and gave them to the priests and the leaders of Israel. The priests were from the Levi tribe, and they carried the sacred chest [ark] that belonged to the Lord. Comfort! Seek God’s comfort: Psalm 9:9, 23:4, 27:1, 46:1, 116:1-2, 119:48-52, 76, Lamentations 3:31-32, and John 14:16-17. These are the comforting passages I’ve highlighted in yellow in my copy of the Scriptures! They strengthen me. Find your strength, comfort, and encouragement in the Eternal Word, in Jesus the Anointed, and his Church. Call me at 484-767-2352 for prayer or encouragement. Prayers continue,
Pastor Bill.