Monday, April 6, 2020

WEEKLY FRAMEWORK:
At different points in our lives, many of us wonder why a good God would allow bad things to happen. And without a clear response, that dilemma could cause us to question God's existence altogether. The Gospel writer John documented an occasion where Jesus not only brought his friend Lazarus back to life but also demonstrated how God can exist in the midst of a world of evil and suffering.

Monday's Devotional
Based on Pastor Eric's daily study guide

The seventh and final "sign" that John records is Jesus' most incredible: raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. There are many things happening in this story that are amazing, but today let's consider the assurance that this miracle can give us.
In a way, Jesus had been leading up to this moment. While turning water into wine is by no means a small feat, it also isn't on par with a resurrection. The seven "signs" recorded in John are each amazing in their own way, and while they (arguably) don't happen in a linear fashion from most "least miraculous" to "most miraculous," it's hard to argue that Jesus doesn't save the best for last.
If Jesus had raised a person from the dead as his first miracle, would the rest have felt as impressive?
If Jesus had raised a person from the dead as his first miracle, would it have been harder to believe that he'd actually done it? It's hard enough to believe it on its own; but if it were the first exposure to Jesus it may almost seem too difficult to believe. Doubly so if the first miracle we'd seen Jesus do was to raise himself from the dead.
But Jesus knew well how quick we are to question and doubt. If Jesus had taught a new way of thinking and then was raised from the dead with no miracles in between, our human nature would find it hard to believe. We need multiple pieces of evidence to corroborate a story. And as John laid out, each miracle was another sign - another piece of evidence - pointing to Jesus being the Messiah.
There are places in our lives where we feel that we need miracles and find it hard to believe that we'll get them. In those times, look back to where Jesus has metaphorically resurrected you in the past and consider what amazing things are still ahead for you in your future.

For Reflection:
* In verse 35, Jesus showed emotion about this situation. What does the fact that Jesus wept - even knowing Lazarus was about to be raised - say about him?
* Read verse 43. Imagine for a moment what onlookers would have been thinking after hearing Jesus say this. What words come to mind to describe this scene?
* What's your biggest takeaway from this story? What is something that sticks out to you about God when reading this?
* In your mind, how does the story of Lazarus address the question, "Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?"
Lord, help me remember the places that you've done miracles in the past to let me know that you, indeed, will continue to do miraculous things in my life. Amen.

A note on prayers: to respect confidentiality, we will not be sharing specific prayer requests via email; however our prayer team is still actively praying for every request that they receive. If you have a prayer request, send it to the prayer team at prayer@asburylv.org.


For SPARK (3-4yr olds)
Download this week's Parent Cue

For BLAST (PreK- 5th grades)
Read Ephesians 4:2

This month is all about humility, putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve. What do you think you deserve?  Maybe . . .  Win * Get your way * Be number one

Humility is just the opposite. Humility isn't about you, it's about the people around you. That means you have to pay attention when you find yourself becoming impatient with others or pushing your way to the front. Because loving with humility means we put others first. What if you made a new list and considered what others deserve? Fill in the blanks below as you think about putting others first. The first one is completed to give you an example. 
My brother deserves patience, even when he's driving me crazy. 

My sister deserves _______________________________________________.
My teacher deserves _____________________________________________.
My friend deserves _______________________________________________.
My mom/dad deserves ___________________________________________.

Take a look at your answers above. Ask God to help you think about what others deserve so you can put them first this week.


Missed the video lessons shared yesterday?
From Memeh Bedell: cook, nurse and friend for Asbury's mission team to Liberia

As we find ourselves in this situation where our worldly hope is lost, let's continue to rely on our Heavenly Hope which will not disappoint us. It is proven now that God is omnipotent. We as his children should be of the conviction that he is omnipresent during these trying times. Varney [Memeh's son], the rest of our family and I are keeping you all in our prayers. Our hope is that at the end of this situation we will sound like the children of Israel in Numbers 31:49 which says "We have checked amongst us and there is not one person missing," So shall it be for your family, loved ones and the entire Church. May you all keep safe and blessed as we watch the power of God in ACTION.
If you are experiencing loneliness, or spiritual and emotional distress during these challenging days, you are not alone. Your pastors are praying for you.  Please reach out to Pastor Barbara at  blee@asburylv.org. She has been making calls for encouragement, counsel and prayer. If you are aware of someone in the congregation you are concerned about, please ask that individual's permission and then pass along your concern to Pastor Barbara.



We want to encourage you during this time to continue to stay connected with others, particularly those who might need help - not just Asbury congregants, but neighbors and homebound friends. A phone call, email, or text is always a safe way to connect! Always be aware of your own safety and the safety of those you're helping!



We know that these stressful times have and will cause hardships for some in our community. The following groups, recommended by Asbury in Mission (AIM), have resources available for assistance if you or someone you know has a need:

Kingdom Life Family Center Food Bank
4333 Lime Kiln Rd, Orefield, PA 18069
1401 Linden Street, Allentown, PA 18102

AIM also reminds us that while volunteer opportunities are few due to the current crisis, our mission partners can still be supported financially. Learn more about all of our AIM mission partners at  asburylv.org/aim.

If you are in a position to donate to the food banks, please be aware of the following information about donations:
Kingdom Life Family Center in Orefield wants people to make an appointment to drop off food on a Tuesday morning.  Call 610-398-0111
Salem United Methodist Church in Allentown, Food bank can take donations in the morning by appointment only.  Call Rev. Navin Satyarvata 610-432-2577



Our Keep in Touch team is still striving to connect with those in our congregation who are sick or hospitalized, even in the  absence of physical visits.  Members known to be hospitalized and/or sick and members who are visited monthly will be "visited" by phone. Say a special prayer of thanks for these individuals who help care for those among us who are ill!
Precautions related to the coronavirus will have an impact on our activities and gatherings. We recognize that they may also have a negative impact on our giving. Please continue to give and support our ministries as you are able. You can visit asburylv.org/give to give a one-time or recurring gift on PushPay, our online giving portal; or you can mail a check to the church.

Rev. Steve Morton, our District Superintendent, reminds us that "[we as] Christians GIVE not because of the church's need to receive... but because of OUR need to say "Thank You" to an amazingly-generous God - and in the midst of national crisis, that good news has not changed!"

Although our activities may be curtailed for a time, our fixed expenses for our ministries and building operations continue. Also, we value our staff, who will continue to be here to support you; and they will continue to be compensated in full. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Asbury's building is now closed indefinitely. When the time comes to re-open, rest assured we will send that communication as far in advance as possible (and very ready to celebrate gathering again!).



For the safety of all, and to keep Asbury's building virus-free, access to the building is now limited to office and custodial staff only. All other key cards have been deactivated. Should you need to gain access to the building, please contact Israel Olivieri, Business Manager, at  iolivieri@asburylv.org.



A special Charge Conference is being held Friday, April 10, at 3 PM through Zoom to formally approve a vote being taken by Church Council to attempt to secure a loan through the  CARES Act. Learn more at  asburylv.org/specialchargeconference.



Catch up on past announcements, devotionals, and resources at  asburylv.org/coronavirus.

All updates regarding Asbury's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will also be shared at that page; as well as via email blast and on our social media feeds ( Facebook and  Twitter).



Please know that during the time that the office is closed, all calls to Asbury are being received by our answering service, as there is no one available in the office to take your call. Any messages you leave with the answering service are forwarded to us and we will relay your message to the appropriate staff member to respond to you as soon as possible.



Asbury is  now a drop-off site for home-sewn masks for Lehigh Valley Health Network. The collection bin is located at the doors by the upper entrance to the building. If you're able to sew masks, but not able to deliver them,  email Pastor Barbara to get connected with a helper. We do not have supplies available to offer; but could help coordinate a pickup for an order you place at a local fabric or craft store that's offering curbside pickup.

Instructions:



St. Luke's is also collecting personal protective equipment (PPE). Learn more about the items they're accepting and their drop-off locations (their Care Now urgent care locations in Allentown, Whitehall, Bethlehem, and more)  on their website.



Cancelled/Postponed Events
Include, but not limited to:
Children's Ministries' Easter Celebration (postponed)
Jubilation Ringers Spring Concerts (cancelled)
April Blood Drive (cancelled) -  please consider giving at one of their physical locations (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading) in this critical time of need.
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
Men's Group Tour to Mack Museum
Reschedule dates (if applicable) will be communicated when available.
No physical meetings are being held at Asbury or off-site; but please check with your group/Circle leader to see if there are plans for your group to connect online.
Connect with us online
www.asburylv.org