Virtual Devotionals and Worship
During this time of crisis and social distancing, it is more important than ever that we draw near together in faith. University Ministries will be posting daily devotionals and weekly chapel worship. UMIN staff is also available for spritual counseling and support via phone and video conferencing.
Join a Virtual LifeGroup
LifeGroups are smaller groups of 4–10 students who are doing life together (virtually for now) and seeking Life together. Some LifeGroups focus on Bible study or prayer, some read books together, some focus on specific topics—all are centered on encountering Jesus and being transformed by him. Contact Amber Jipp to find out more.
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March 31: A Hymn of Praise
Today’s devotional comes from Psalm 91:1-4. This Psalm is considered a hymn of praise to God for his greatness and power. When we look to God as our Refuge and see Him as our Protector, we then are eager to surrender our lives to His care and guidance with total trust.
Psalm 91:1-4 (The Message)
You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being our Protector and Refuge. We pray that You comfort all of us during this time. Help our students, faculty, staff, and North Park community to draw closer to You, as we put our full trust in You. May Your Holy Spirit lead and guide us each day. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 “BibleGateway.” Psalms 91 The Message (MSG) — Bible Gateway, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+91&version=MSG.
Matthew 22:34-39 (NIV) The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”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.
Last week my good friend Matt Vega, a PhD student at the University of Chicago, shared with me some sound practical advice during this quarantine season that many of us are experiencing. He described that stress can weaken our immune system, and that caring for yourself through watching a comedy show, playing games, engaging in exercise, and eating healthy is a way to care for our health. My family and I have taken daily walks around the block, hosted online dance parties, and video-chatted with family and friends coast to coast. As I’ve listened to many great sermons and advice from various pastors, I am reminded that not only is care for our physical and mental health important, but also care for our spiritual health. How can the Church (body of Christ) stay spiritually healthy during this time?
In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus is being tested with a question by an expert in the law. This religious leader asks Jesus, out of the 613 laws in the Torah, which one is the greatest commandment? Jesus answers him by quoting two scriptures from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Leviticus 19:18 says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Jesus breaks the commandment into two basic concepts: Love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Loving ourselves means worshiping God through singing, reading our Bibles daily, and praying, all which help us develop a deeper relationship with God. From this love for ourself will extend into our love of others. This might mean to call and check on our family and friends to make sure they have everything they need, that they’re well. Maybe leave groceries for our elders or those who have higher health risks in our communities. Maybe send a gift card to a family or those in need in your community or church.
The two greatest things that the Church must do during this time, in order to stay spiritually healthy, is to love the Lord God with all of our strength and to love our neighbors around us just as we love ourselves. Now is the time for us as the Church to be the body of Christ and to put those sermons into action. As we love the Lord God through our worship and actions, we will be the Church that the world so greatly needs at this time. Be blessed.
I’m walking to the park more frequently these days. It helps me stay centered amidst a world thrown into upheaval by COVID-19. On my walk this morning I noticed a small patch of purple on the green lawn. Crocuses had sprouted outside the borders of the nearby flower bed. Stopping to admire the vibrant blooms, Jesus’ admonition, “consider the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:28) sprung to mind. If God clothes a flower of the field “which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” Ouch. How well have I been trusting God to provide for my current and future needs?
In a time of uncertainty and scarcity of certain resources we are tempted to take on a scarcity mindset. Anxiety rises as we fear a future of not-enough. Not enough health, not enough jobs, not enough money, not enough love, not enough fill-in-the-blank. While concerns about how COVID-19 will affect—and is already affecting—our world are valid, Jesus’ words remind us of God’s unfailing care for even the smallest aspects of creation.
Step outside today and notice how the earth proclaims God’s care. Ask God to speak through the sights, sounds and smells of creation. In addition to being good for mental and physical health, spending time with God like this can reawaken a sense of gratitude for the gifts God provides today and every day. As the psalmist declares,
“Shout to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of God’s Name–give glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cower before your great strength! The whole earth worships you and sings praises to you–all creation praises your Name!’” (Psalm 66:1-4)
Stock photo from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Today’s devotional is a prayer that comes to us from The Book of Common Prayer (2007)1. As a North Park community, let us continue to work together and seek the Lord’s face during these challenging times.
“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
1 The Book of Common Prayer. Oxford University Press New York, 2007
My sister is an LA-based artist who works with paper to create three-dimensional art pieces. Exodus portrays the parting of the Red Sea recounted in Exodus 14:21–22:
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. (NRSV)
Mark 4:35-41 (NIV) Jesus Calms the Storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
March 29: Let the Good Shepherd Lead You
In lieu of CollegeLife tonight, gather virtually with us via Vimeo with a message from Amber Jipp, Spiritual Life and CollegeLife Coordinator (2-3 minutes), followed by a Hope Worship Medley with Willow Chicago (12 minutes) and a sermon from Psalm 23 from Pastor Eric Flood of South Park Church (Park Ridge, IL) (20-30 minutes); finally, we will share our benediction (1 min).
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And just in case you haven’t seen this yet: NPUMin #COVID19 Spotify Playlist
We realize that many of you may not have a church home or perhaps your home church is not able to offer online streaming during this season of social distancing. With this in mind, each Sunday we will be offering you an opportunity to worship virtually with a local, Chicago church via link. This week, we welcome you to Willow Chicago.
Also, in lieu of CollegeLife each week, Amber Jipp, our Spiritual Formation and CollegeLife Coordinator, will offer a brief word of encouragement for our community.
Finally, please worship with us via the Spotify Playlist “NPUMin #COVID19.