Grow – Pray – Study

Our pastors write a short daily devotional each week that accompanies the sermon series. The weekly list of scripture, devotion, question to ponder and prayer are printed in Sunday’s bulletin and posts here daily.

Click the GPS menu in the left column for the latest reading.

GPS – Week of March 20

Monday, March 20 — Mark 15:15-25

According to the Gospels, Jesus makes seven (7) statements from the cross. Three (3) are found in Luke’s Gospel, three (3) are found in John’s Gospel, and one (1) is found in both Matthew and Mark. As we seek to understand the meaning of Jesus’ final words, we consider the context of each Gospel writer’s themes. But we know that all of them agree: the crucifixion of Jesus is the point to which the entire Gospel has been building. This is the climax of the story.

      • Pay attention to the mob-mentality in the Gospel. Have you ever done something because “everybody else is doing it”? How do you resist the pressure of the “mob”?
      • Prayer: God of courage, help me see the path ahead more clearly. Help me follow you, not everybody else. Help me to hear your voice among the many voices in the world. Amen.

Tuesday, March 21 — Mark 15:25-38

According to Mark’s Gospel (and Matthew’s), the only thing Jesus says on the cross is what the Church has called, the “cry of dereliction” (Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46). Mark quotes Jesus’ Aramaic words and provides the Greek translation. In some Jewish traditions, Elijah was believed to help people in times of suffering. That’s why they thought Jesus was calling for Elijah.

      • Have you ever cried out to God in a time of need? What circumstances might lead you to express feelings of forsakenness?
      • Prayer: Comforting God, hear the prayers of suffering people. Comfort me in times of distress and despair. Remind me that you are with me always. Amen.

Wednesday, March 22 — Romans 8:15-18

One important New Testament theme is that suffering and sacrifice have redemptive power. Not only does Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice redeem humanity. Jesus says his passion is an example to be followed (Mark 8:31-37). God does not cause our suffering, but the New Testament consistently reminds us there is redemptive power in the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus’ followers.

      • Read Romans 5:1-5 and see how suffering leads to hope. Have you made any sacrifices in order to follow Jesus? Have they been worth the suffering you may have experienced? How have your sacrifices (and resultant suffering) produced hope?
      • Prayer: God of hope, remind me today how the sacrifices you ask me to make serve your Kingdom. Teach me to keep heart and mind focused on you. Grant me courage. Amen.

Thursday, March 23 — Psalm 22:1-21a

From the cross, Jesus quotes the first verse of Psalm 22, a lament and plea to God for deliverance. Jesus’ example reminds us of the importance of the Psalms as a resource for our prayer and devotional lives. In the Psalms, every human emotion and human experience is expressed in prayer to God. The Psalms remind us that God can handle the raw emotions that make up the human experience.

      • According to Mark and Mathew, Jesus called upon the 22nd Psalm in his suffering on the cross. What emotions come to mind as you read the Psalm? Have you ever felt like that?
      • Prayer: God of heaven and earth, thank you for hearing my prayers, even when I express difficult emotions. Remind me that no problem or situation is too big for you. Amen.

Friday, March 24 — Psalm 22:21b-31

Many commentators believe that, as he quoted Psalm 22:1, Jesus was remembering the promises found in Psalm 22:21b-31. God’s redemption leads the Psalm-writer to praise and thanksgiving. This is the power of Scripture and the power of memory. When we remember what God has done and the promises God has made, we can face suffering and sacrifice with confidence and faith.

      • God’s promises don’t remove suffering and sacrifice, they redeem suffering and sacrifice. How have you experienced God’s redemption in the midst of your suffering? What promises do you need to remember, so that you can find enough strength to keep going.
      • Prayer: Saving God, help me to remember that you are the ultimate promise-keeper — and that you promise to save me from sin and death. Thank you for your grace. Amen.

Saturday, March 25 — Mark 10:43-45, Mark 15:33-39

In his brief account of Jesus’ death, Mark gives us a hint of the redemptive power of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. Jesus is a servant whose death pays the ransom for the sinful world. At the cross, Jesus’ suffering and death leads to the centurion’s profession of faith. This is Mark’s primary message: Jesus’ death has the power to change our lives!

      • Have you professed your faith and received God’s grace? If not, ask God to forgive your sins and become a follower of Jesus.
      • Prayer: Gracious God, forgive my sins and transform my life by the power of your love and grace. I choose to be a follower of Jesus — starting today. Amen.

GPS – Week of March 13

Monday, March 13 — Luke 1:26-38

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is an important person in the Gospel story and in the tradition of the church. In Luke’s Gospel, we read about how she learned that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Her statement of obedience in verse 38 is one of the clearest statements of Christian discipleship in the entire New Testament. In fact, it could be said that Mary is a model of discipleship.

      • Mary’s response to the message from God is an act of surrender to God’s will. Are you willing to surrender your life to God? What holds you back from giving total control of your life to God?
      • Prayer: Calling God, help me to clearly hear your call in my life. Give me the courage I need to follow Mary’s example and surrender my life to you today — and every day. Amen.

Tuesday, March 14 — John 2:1-12

John’s Gospel says nothing about circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. It does not even tell us that Jesus’ mother’s name was Mary. In John’s Gospel, she is simply the mother of Jesus. And when he speaks to her, Jesus calls her “woman” (John 2:4, John 19:26). In John 2, when she tells Jesus about the lack of wine, Jesus makes clear that his highest priority is God, not family. But ultimately, he answers her request.

      • What does this story tell you about Jesus? About his priorities? What does this story tell you about God’s priorities in your life? Is it possible that this is a story about prayer?
      • Prayer: God of transformation, help me clarify the priorities in my life and put my life in order. Remind me that nothing is more important than you are. Amen.

Wednesday, March 15 — Matthew 12:46-50

The four (4) Gospel writers clearly indicate that Jesus maintained a relationship with his family, even to his death. The New Testament tells us that after his death and resurrection, at least one of his brothers was a leader in the Christian community (see Galatians 1:19). But Jesus consistently insisted that God was a higher priority than family — that following him was a higher priority than family.

      • How do you balance the demands of discipleship with the demands of family. Read Luke 14:26: what do think it means?
      • Prayer: God of high expectations, teach me how to put you first in my life. Help me trust that you know what’s best for me. Forgive me when I put my needs before you. Amen.

Thursday, March 16 — Luke 10:38-42

One of the themes we find in Luke’s Gospel is the importance of women in the life and ministry of Jesus. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is a model of discipleship from the beginning of the story. Another Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is also a model of discipleship. It is hard for our modern minds to comprehend how radical Jesus’ acceptance and association with women would have been in the first century.

      • Luke insists that Jesus welcomed people that others excluded. In what ways do you follow Jesus’ example? How might you grow in your practice of Jesus-like hospitality?
      • Prayer: Loving God, thank you for extending your grace to me. Help me to extend your grace to others today. Help me to love the people Jesus loves. Amen.

Friday, March 17 — John 19:25-27

When Jesus speaks from the cross to his mother and the beloved disciple, he reminds us of our responsibility to love and care for family and friends. In this brief encounter, Jesus teaches all of his disciples — through the example of a single disciple — that we have responsibilities for each other. Assuming that we treat our families well, Jesus asks us to care for others within the church and community in the same ways that we care for those closest to us.

      • Whom might Jesus be asking you to love and care for?  Are you willing to extend your love to include all mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers in need?
      • Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and care of family. Help me share your love with others. Send me to the people who need to experience your love. Amen.

Saturday, March 18 — James 1:22-27

The primary theme of the Book of James is that Christian faith requires Christian action (James 2:14-17). James gives specific examples of the kind of Christian action that results from Christian faith. He says pure religion is to “care for orphans and widows in distress” (James 1:27).

      • Even though the text does not say so, tradition says that the author, James, is the brother of Jesus. How does this tradition impact your understanding of his words?
      • Prayer: Faithful God, forgive me for my failure to put my faith into action. Teach me to be a doer of your word, not someone who hears and does not respond. Amen.

GPS – Week of Feb. 27

Monday, February 27 — Luke 23:24-35

Each of the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) describe Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. Between them they record seven (7) statements Jesus makes as he is dying on the cross. None of the Gospel writers record all seven. As we consider the final words of Jesus, we learn a great deal about the meaning of Jesus’ death. The words found in Luke 23:34 are especially meaningful.

      • How do you connect Jesus’ death with his prayer for forgiveness? Do you believe that Jesus’ death is the source of God’s forgiveness for you? Do you believe that God has forgiven you?
      • Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess my need to be forgiven for my sins. I confess that I have not lived the life you desire that I live. Forgive me in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, February 28 — Romans 5:6-11

Dying on the cross, Jesus asks God to forgive the people who crucified him. He asks for their forgiveness while they were still scoffing, mocking and deriding him. On the cross, Jesus asks for their forgiveness before any of them repent, confess, or ask for mercy. In Romans 5 we discover what God has done: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

      • Can you believe that God forgives you before you know that you need to be forgiven? This means that forgiveness isn’t earned. Forgiveness is a gift. Will you accept God’s gift today?
      • Prayer: God of grace, thank you for sending Jesus to the world so that I might be saved from the power of sin and death. I accept the gift of Life today. Amen.

Wednesday, March 1 — Luke 6:27-38

Not only does Jesus offer forgiveness through his death on the cross, he also teaches us that we must forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven. The forgiveness we receive from God is meant to be shared. Jesus’ life and ministry sets the ultimate example for our lives. He loves his enemies. He is merciful. He is forgiving.

      • Are you carrying any hurts or offenses today? Is there someone you need to forgive, even if they have not repented or asked for your forgiveness?
      • Prayer: Merciful God, help me to follow the example of Jesus and forgive my enemies. Help me to forgive others in the same way that you forgive me. Amen.

Thursday, March 2 — Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiving others is not easy. Like Peter in Matthew 18:21, we want to know how many times we have to forgive someone who hurts us. We want to set limits. Peter probably thinks that forgiving seven (7) times is more than enough. Jesus’ response to Peter is a challenge to all of us. He says we have to keep forgiving over and over — so many times that we can’t count them. The parable that Jesus tells Peter and the disciples is very clear: people who have been forgiven by God are expected to forgive others.

      • What do you think about Jesus’ response to Peter’s question? What is preventing you from following Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness.
      • Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the gift of your love and grace. Grant me the courage I need to share your love and grace with others. Amen.

Friday, March 3 — Ephesians 4:25-32

Several New Testament letters have passages like today’s reading, passages that describe the Kingdom life that God intends for followers of Jesus. These passages are both prescriptive and descriptive. They are prescriptions for living a Kingdom life, the kind of life that pleases God. They are also descriptive. They describe the shape our lives will take if we trust God enough to let the Holy Spirit guide, direct, empower, and ultimately transform us. This week, we note that if we live a Kingdom life, we will “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven [us]” (Ephesians 4:32)

      • Use Ephesians 4:25-32 to review your life this week. How are you doing? How might the Holy Spirit be working in your life right now? What changes might God be making in you?
      • Prayer: God of New Life, fill me with the Holy Spirit today and transform my life. Teach me how to be more like Jesus: kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. Amen.

Saturday, March 4 — Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is the prayer David prayed after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sinful behavior. (You can read 2 Samuel 11 and 12 for the context.) Note that David not only confesses his sin and asks for forgiveness, he also promises to change his behavior. This is what it means to repent. We ask for and receive forgiveness and change the direction of our lives.

      • Use Psalm 51 to pray your own prayer of confession today. Ask for and receive forgiveness. Let God change the direction of your life.
      • Prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” Amen.

From Pastor Neil’s Study (M/A 2023)

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies. Starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, the movie is about a self-absorbed weatherman, Phil Conners (Murray), and his sweet and innocent producer, Rita (McDowell), who are sent to cover the Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA. They are forced to spend the night in Punxsutawney, and when Phil wakes up the next morning, he discovers that it is February 2 — again. He is trapped in an endless loop, reliving the same day, over and over, and he is the only one that knows what’s happening.

What makes the movie so meaningful is that the experience ultimately changes Phil. At first, he simply tries to end the cycle, trying everything he can think of, including suicide. Then he takes advantage of the situation, stealing money, gorging on food (he never gains any weight), and trying to take advantage of women. But over time, Phil comes to accept his fate and use the situation for good. He learns to play the piano; he helps people in crisis. When he finally stops fighting, and starts living for others, he is given his life back.

In one memorable scene, Phil is in a bowling alley with two local guys. He says to them, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?” One of the guys replies, “That about sums it up for me.”

Sometimes, even though we are not stuck in an endless cycle of February 2nds, we know exactly what Phil Conner is experiencing. Every day feels the same, and nothing seems to matter, nothing we do seems to make a difference. We know what it is like to feel stuck, unable to move forward. Like Phil, we discover that living solely for our own benefit, looking out for number one, does not help. The possibility of new life — the start of a new day — begins when we start living for others. Specifically, when we surrender our lives to God and start following Jesus Christ.

Each of the four New Testament Gospels records Jesus saying something like this: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:34b-35). This is how God works; it is the secret to abundant life. It is the power of Easter at work in the world.

The invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to leave behind the endless cycle of meaningless days and discover the joy and wonder of following Jesus — worshipping God, growing in faith, serving Christ, giving generously, and sharing the Good News.

Surrender your life to God … and see what happens.

In Christ,

Lent and Holy Week at Trinity

Trinity’s 2023 Lenten theme will focus on Jesus’ dying hours and his final words as the Gospel writers recorded them. Last year we considered the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life. This year, Final Words from the Cross by Adam Hamilton will be our guide as meet the variety of characters who gather at the cross and reflect on the seven final statements of Jesus. Join us each week as we seek to understand the meaning of Jesus’ dying words for our lives today.

Here are some important dates to remember. See weekly emails and bulletins for additional information:

      • Lent Sermon Series – The Final Words from the Cross
      • Lent Study – Final Words from the Cross by Adam Hamilton
        Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. in-person and on Zoom
        Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on Zoom
      • Holy Week Worship
        April 2 – Palm and Passion Sunday 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
        April 6 – Holy Thursday Service of Holy Communion at 7 p.m.
        April 7 – Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 7 p.m.
      • Easter – April 9
        Eater Sunrise Service at 7 a.m.
        Easter Day Services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.


Care and Compassion at Trinity Church

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The woman who wrote that quote was a psychiatrist who did ground-breaking work on grief. You’ve probably heard of the five stages of grief she documented: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She did amazing work in the area of helping those who are facing illness and death. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross got it. She did not shy away from the struggle.

Grief is just one of the challenges most of us will face in our lives. There are plenty of others. Some will be easier to get through; some will be more difficult. As Christians, we know from reading the Bible that we are not alone in our struggles. But, sometimes it can be difficult to remember that fact.

There’s another way you are not alone. You have clergy members who are here for you. We love being a part of your life in all the times you’ll encounter. We invite you to come by the church, meet us after worship or join us for coffee near your home or work. You’ll often find us meeting members for lunch or making phone-call check-ins. These personal connections are a vital part of what we do. You are our church family and we take your care seriously.

There will be times when someone might need help finding a mental health counselor. We are blessed to have a wonderful team of counselors who are as close as Trinity House, located on our campus. Between them, they cover many areas of expertise and treat all age groups, including children.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need us. We are happy to listen, pray with you, provide support and help however we can. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, you are the “most beautiful people we have known.”

I’ll see you in church!

Church Engagement

by Stephanie Grunenfelder, Worship Committee Chair & Executive Council Recording Secretary

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

One of life’s certainties underscored during the pandemic is that connecting with others is vital. At Trinity UMC, we are grateful to continue providing live-stream services to those in our church family who are unable to physically attend services but are also encouraged as more and more people begin to return to in-person worship. As churches, including ours, emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic, it is incumbent upon all of us to consider how best to serve and engage in fellowship with one another as Jesus instructed.

Trinity’s Executive Council meets 4-6 times per year, with the objective of managing the many moving parts of an active congregation. The United Methodist denomination has identified a structure for helping local churches do this with committees such as Church and Society, Staff-Parish Relations, Finance and others. For a church to function well, the children need education, worshipers need music, the building and grounds need attention, etc. Without the sustained, active engagement of volunteers, a church simply cannot thrive and grow as God intended. At the most recent Executive Council meeting, there was an enthusiastic discussion about how to engage more people in community – to strengthen and grow our church family.

Please prayerfully consider engaging in the life of the church, your church, this year. Trinity needs both leaders and assistants for activities and events, both inside and outside of traditional services. Listed below are a few of the ideas that came up during the executive committee’s brainstorming session. If leading or being involved in one of those inspires you, please contact Neil or Eileen. Perhaps there is something not on the list that you’ve been thinking about as well, and there are always opportunities for members who still aren’t comfortable with in-person events. All ideas are welcome!

      • Pancake Supper for Shrove Tuesday
      • Preschool Sunday
      • Small dinners together for fellowship
      • A youth event – brunch or food trucks
      • Family bingo night
      • Family movie night
      • Program on parenting for preschool families
      • MLK day of service
      • Combined service with the Spanish Iglesias congregation followed by a lunch
      • Vacation Bible School (in person)
      • Joint project with the church and the preschool community
      • Performance by preschool kids at church
      • Easter events
        • Walk to Emmaus
        • Stations of the cross
        • Easter Egg Hunt
        • Jellybean guessing game
      • Camp Highroad event
      • Revive the adult Sunday School class between the two services.

Our church will truly be blessed as we engage as a church family going forward. As Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20).

Children’s Corner (M/A 2023)

by Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry

It seems that the Christmas decorations have just been stored away when we find that it’s time to start preparing for Lent and Easter. Looking at things from the perspective of children, they might still be thinking about that cute little baby in the manger, and next thing they know the baby has grown into a man and is being arrested and sentenced to death. That’s a lot to handle!

So, how can we best help children make the transition from joyful celebration of Christ’s birth to the rather somber observance of Lent and Holy Week? The season of Lent offers us – parents and church family – an opportunity to give children a balanced view of life, and to build faith. We can let them know that there are times in life when they will be sad, while reassuring them that, no matter what, God is always with them to help them get through tough times. We can teach them that Jesus came to this world to tell everyone about God’s love and God’s kingdom, and to give them a foundation upon which to build a lasting, lifelong faith.

I am excited to share with the children of Trinity this meaningful Lenten season and Easter. I will distribute Lenten kits filled with weekly lessons and fun items and activities for the whole family to enjoy. Children learn best with adult involvement, so I encourage you to set time aside to explore each week’s activities.

Of course, I am particularly looking forward to Holy Week and Easter. Our children will once again walk down the aisles on Palm Sunday, waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna. We will have our delightful Easter Egg Hunt on the lawn and traditional jellybean guessing game – and complete the event with a visit from the Easter Bunny. Best of all, on Easter Sunday, we will joyfully worship the risen Christ.

Please consider volunteering your time for Children’s Worship during the 10:30 a.m. service every Sunday. You will be amazed at what you will receive back from our children!

Ms. Laurie

What’s Happening at Trinity (M/A 2023)

1           Lent Bible Study begins
5           Martha’s Table
13        Crafts for a Cause
14        Book Chat: The Personal Librarian by Benedict & Murray
18        Christ House
20        Easter flower orders due
26        Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)
27        Crafts for a Cause

1           Good Works Day
2            Palm Sunday, 8:30 & 10:30 a.m.
3            Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m.
4            Good Friday, 7 p.m.
5            Easter Sunday
7 a.m. Sunrise Service
8:30 & 10:30 a.m.
10         Office Closed
11         Book Chat: Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
12         Christ House
13         Crafts for a Cause
30         Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)

Book Chat

Trinity’s Book Chat continues to meet on Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month. New readers are always welcome to join us. Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 14, and our book is The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Murray. Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris is our selection for our Tuesday, April 11 meeting. More details can be found at including this year’s reading list and Zoom information. Contact Kathy Maher for more.

Easter Flowers

On Easter Sunday, April 9, Trinity’s Sanctuary will be decorated with lilies, tulips and hydrangeas, given in honor or memory of loved ones. Please fill out the form. All memorials/honors will be noted in the Easter Sunday bulletin. If you order flowers, you’re encouraged to take them home after the service. Deadline is Monday, March 20.

GPS – Week of Feb. 20

Monday, February 20 — Mark 14:12-42

The final 24 hours of Jesus’ earthly life began with a Passover meal. In a traditional Passover meal, someone asks the following question: Why is this night different from all other nights? Even though Jesus predicted his death three times, his disciples had no idea how different this Passover meal would be. They had no idea that the events of the evening would not only change their lives, they would change the course of history.

      • Which part of today’s reading speaks most powerfully to you? Which part of the disciples’ experience most closely matches your own? Can you relate to Jesus’ disciples in any way?
      • Prayer: God of passion, help me to find myself in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Increase my understanding of your will for my life. Amen.

Tuesday, February 21 — Mark 14:43-72

Peter’s denial of Jesus is one of the mostly distinctly human stories in the Bible. Despite his brash protests, Peter—as predicted by Jesus—denied knowing Jesus three times before dawn. The Gospel writers suggest that both Jesus and Peter were on trial that night. Both were convicted, but only one of them was guilty. Keep Peter’s failure in mind while you read John 21:1-17. Jesus’ faithfulness under trial redeems Peter’s failure under trial.

      • How does Jesus’ faithfulness redeem your failures under trial?
      • Prayer: Faithful God, forgive my faults and failures. Redeem my life and use me as an instrument of your love and grace in the world that desperately needs to know you. Amen.

Wednesday, February 22 — Mark 15:1-15

The name Barabbas means “son of the father.” When Pilate asked the crowd which prisoner they wanted him to release, he asked them to choose between two “sons of the father.” Barabbas was a rebel, a zealot who wanted to overthrow the Romans. This was the “son of the father” the people chose. In his own way, Barabbas wanted to save his people and lead to them freedom. This was the kind of savior the people chose.

      • Can you understand why the crowd might have chosen Barabbas? Which “son of the father” would you (really) choose?
      • Prayer: Saving God, reveal to me today how much I need the saving grace that is only offered through Jesus. Help me resist the temptation to choose other “saviors.” Amen.

Thursday, February 23 — Mark 15:16-39

There is great irony in the passion of Jesus Christ. Jesus was accused of blasphemy and treason because he claimed to be the Messiah and King. When the religious leaders and the soldiers mocked Jesus, everything they said was true: their taunts revealed God’s truth. The man dying on the cross was the Messiah and the King. By not saving himself, Jesus saved the world. The Gospel is consistent. Jesus is the Messiah, Savior, and King we need, not necessarily the Messiah, Savior, and King we want.

      • Can you accept this? Can you accept a crucified King?
      • Prayer: Crucified Savior, thank you for saving me from the power of sin and death. I accept your love and grace. Today, I choose to serve and follow you. Amen.

Friday, February 24 — Mark 15:40-16:8

Mark’s Gospel has multiple endings. The earliest manuscripts end at Mark 16:8. (It is believed that verses 9-20 were added at a later date.) This ending leaves the story hanging, unfinished. There seems to be some uncertainty about what happened next.  Think back to the very first verse of Mark’s Gospel. Mark 1:1 says that the 16 chapters of the story are “the beginning of the good news.” This suggests that the Gospel story was still being written in the lives of the original disciples and in the lives of the disciples to whom Mark was writing. It is still being written in the life of everyone who follows Jesus today.

      • How is the Gospel story being written in your life? What is the next chapter?
      • Prayer: Eternal God, continue to tell the Gospel story through my life. Use me as a witness to the transforming power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Amen.

Saturday, February 25 — Luke 23:33-35

According to the four Gospel writers, Jesus spoke seven phrases before he died on the cross. What the Gospel writers recorded as Jesus’ final words tell us a great deal about what the writers believed about Jesus. They tell us a great deal about the meaning of Jesus’ death. Luke tells us that Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified him.

      • What do these words of Jesus mean to you? Is forgiveness one of the primary meanings of Jesus’ death for you? What do you think about Jesus asking God to forgive those who crucified him?
      • Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me of my sins. Help me follow Jesus’ example and forgive others. Transform my life so that I can serve you more fully every day. Amen.

GPS – Week of Feb. 13

Monday, February 13 — Mark 11:12-26

In the parable of the sower (Mark 4:3-8), Jesus taught that, when received by receptive soil, the seed of God’s Word would bear fruit. In the curse of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple, Jesus demonstrates the consequences of fruit-less-ness. He affirms God’s desire for fruit-full-ness that results from faith-full-ness.

      • Spend time this week considering the ways your life is — or is not — bearing fruit. If the Gospel story is being written in your life, what is it saying about God? About Jesus? About you?
      • Prayer: Merciful God, forgive me for not fully receiving your Word and bearing your fruit. Give me the confidence and faith I need to allow you to bear fruit in me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 14 — Mark 11:27-12:27

As the story of Jesus’ earthly life moves toward its crucial moment (the word “crucial” is taken from the Latin word for cross), Mark tells us how the opposition to Jesus grows. The religious leaders question Jesus’ authority (Mark 11:27-33) and try to trap him into opposing the Roman tax, an act of treason (Mark 12:13-17). The parable of the wicked tenants (Mark 12:1-10) tells the story of Jesus. The religious leaders see themselves in the story and want to arrest him (Mark 12:12).

      • The Gospel invites every person to find themselves in the story. Where do you find yourself? To which of the characters do you relate? In his earthly ministry, does Jesus ever do or say anything that bothers you?
      • Prayer: God of history, give me the courage to be honest about my place in your story. Use Scripture to speak to me. By the power of your grace, transform my life. Amen.

Wednesday, February 15 — Mark 12:28-44

The question, What is the most important commandment? was a matter of great debate in the time of Jesus. Jesus’ answer — love God and love neighbor — has become the Great Commandment for Christians around the world. Growing in the knowledge and love of God and neighbor is the goal for every one of Jesus’ followers.

      • On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your love for God and neighbor. What do you need to do this week to grow in your ability to love both God and neighbor?
      • Prayer: Loving God, help me love you more today than ever before. Let your love flow through me into the world around me. Amen.



Thursday, February 16 — Mark 13:1-13

The 13th chapter of Mark’s Gospel is sometimes called a little apocalypse. In it, Jesus speaks of the future to prepare his followers for their life and ministry after his ascension into heaven. It is important to remember that apocalyptic writing is intended to change behavior in the present. Believe it or not, Jesus’ words are meant to inspire confidence and faith in his followers, even in the most difficult circumstances.

      • As you read Jesus’ words in this section of the Gospel, how do you feel? Are you afraid? Or are you comforted? What needs to happen in your life so that you can find peace?
      • Prayer: God of peace, thank you for the promises of Jesus. Help me to trust you in every situation of my life. Open my eyes to see clearly what you would have me see. Amen.

Friday, February 17 — Mark 13:14-37

When Jesus tells his disciples to “keep alert” (Mark 13:33) and “keep awake” (Mark 13:37), he is not talking about physical sleep, he is talking about being prepared for his return. Not only does this mean to “repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15), it also means to be faithful in ministry. Jesus wants his disciples to keep doing what he taught them.

      • The passing of time makes “keeping awake” more difficult. What helps you to be prepared for Jesus’ return? Do you ever think of Jesus’ words in Mark 13 when you consider the ways you serve Christ?
      • Prayer: Faithful God, teach me once again the need for faith and faithfulness in my life. Show me what you want me to do. Help me learn to trust you more fully. Amen.

Saturday, February 18 — Mark 14:1-11

The final section of the Gospel story begins in chapter 14. The denouement is at hand as Jesus is anointed in preparation for his death and burial and Judas agrees to betray Jesus. Mark contrasts the extravagant generosity of the anonymous woman with the hardened hearts of Judas and the religious authorities. The story of Jesus’ death is a story of sacrificial love. The woman is the one who understands what God is doing.

      • Do you understand what God is doing? If so, think about some ways you can follow the example of the woman in the story by practicing sacrificial love and extravagant generosity.
      • Prayer: Extravagant God, thank you for Jesus. Thank for offering me new life. I accept your gift of your sacrificial love and grace in Jesus’ name. Amen.