April 17

   DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces

 

 

Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,

As I am getting ready for the big trip to Manitoba, I especially appreciated this reflection from the Our Daily Bread devotions. Time to time we need a bit of a more assurance regarding the Divine Fortress, on whom we can always rely.

It’s not by accident that Psalm 46 became the anthem of the Reformation. Those were similarly tough times for the spiritual leaders who risked their lives as they fought for the renewal of Christianity.

The devotion below reminds us that no matter the times or challenges, we have a “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (v. 1.)

It also tells us that we ourselves can be instruments of change – just as the Reformers were – and instruments of loving care – just as Debbie was in the story below.

May we all, and always feel this “help” by our side; and may this Holy Presence inspire us ‘to dare’ a loving, caring life!

Grace and Peace to You All,

Rev. Maria

 

Being Cared For

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 3–5; Luke 14:25–35

The Lord Almighty is with us.

Psalm 46:11

 

READ PSALM 46

Debbie, the owner of a housecleaning service, was always searching for more clients to build up her business. On one call she talked with a woman whose response was, “I won’t be able to afford that now; I’m undergoing cancer treatment.” Right then Debbie decided that “no woman undergoing cancer treatment would ever be turned away. They would even be offered a free housecleaning service.” So, in 2005 she started a nonprofit organization where companies donated their cleaning services to women battling cancer. One such woman felt a rush of confidence when she came home to a clean house. She said, “For the first time, I actually believed I could beat cancer.”

A feeling of being cared for and supported can help sustain us when we’re facing a challenge. An awareness of God’s presence and support can especially bring hope to encourage our spirit. Psalm 46, a favorite of many people going through trials, reminds us: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” and “Be still, and know that I am God; . . . I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us” (vv. 1, 10–11).

Reminding ourselves of God’s promises and His presence with us can be a means to help renew our hearts and give us the courage and confidence to go through hard times. – By Anne Cetas

 

REFLECT & PRAY

I’m grateful, God, for Your presence and Your promises. May I live out an attitude of confidence in You and Your ability to sustain me. Amen.

For what trials are you depending on God for strength? What Bible verses help you?

 

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Given the dire language of its introduction, this psalm was likely written during a significant crisis. But which crisis? Many scholars believe it occurred during the reign of Hezekiah when the Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem. The situation looked dismal for God’s people, but the city had two advantages the Assyrians knew nothing of. Hezekiah had protected the spring of Gihon, located outside the city, by tunneling through stone to the water source. Then he concealed the spring. This life-giving spring may be the inspiration for the line, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” (Psalm 46:4). Most important, however, the psalmist knew the ultimate source of the city’s safety. Jerusalem enjoyed the presence of the one true God. His miraculous intervention on behalf of the city meant they had only to be still and await His deliverance. He’s the life-sustaining Spring. – By Bill Crowder