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.

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.

GPS – Week of Feb. 6, 2023

Monday, February 6 — Mark 8:14-9:1

The blindness of Jesus’ disciples is one of the themes of Mark’s Gospel. Their inability to comprehend the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and death — illustrated by Peter’s rebuke of Jesus in Mark 8:32 — makes them just as blind as the man in Bethsaida. The disciples will need a second touch of Jesus’ healing hand before they will be able to see clearly.

      • Everyone has some blind spots. Are you aware of any blind spots in your life? What part of the Gospel message is “blurry” for you? Where do you need Jesus to help you see more clearly?
      • Prayer: God of Healing, grant me clarity of vision, so that I might see more clearly and understand more completely how to faithfully follow Jesus in my life. Amen.

Tuesday, February 7 — Mark 9:2-29

The account of Jesus’ transfiguration on a “high mountain” serves as a turning point in the Gospel. Jesus is now moving toward Jerusalem, where the events he has foretold (Mark 8:31) will occur. On the mountain with three disciples, the identity of Jesus is affirmed, and the disciples are instructed by the heavenly voice, “listen to him!” The events surrounding the transfiguration show Jesus’ frustration with the disciples and their need to listen carefully and see clearly.

      • What is stopping you from fully comprehending the truth of the Gospel? Are there parts of Jesus’ message that are hard for you to hear? Are you willing to acknowledge your need to learn?
      • Prayer: Merciful God, forgive my lack of faith and hardened heart. Open my ears and heart to truly listen to Jesus and learn from him how to live a meaningful life. Amen.

Wednesday, February 8 — Mark 9:30-49

Mark intentionally shows the contrast between Jesus, the suffering servant, and the disciples, who argue about which one of them is the greatest. Jesus insists that greatness in the Kingdom is not about being first, but is about being last, like children in the first-century world. He says that when his disciples welcome and serve the least and last, they serve Jesus himself. (See also Matthew 25:31-46.)

      • These words of Jesus challenge our 21st century sensibilities. How do you feel about them? Are you willing to be last?
      • Prayer: God of Sacrificial Love, show me today how to love and serve the same way Jesus loved and served. Help me seek the kind of greatness that Jesus describes. Amen.

Thursday, February 9 — Mark 10:1-31

Jesus was unafraid to tackle difficult subjects like marriage and divorce and wealth. The fact that he often challenged the conventional wisdom of his day helps explain why he attracted a large following and created such strong opposition. The high expectations of Jesus’ teaching (see Matthew 5:20) leads to the conversation recorded in Mark 10:26-27. Read Mark 10:26-27 again.

      • Reflect on the promise made by Jesus (in verse 27). Can you affirm this statement? Will you acknowledge your need for God’s saving grace?
      • Prayer: Gracious God, please forgive the many ways that I fail to live up to your expectations for my life. I need your grace. Help me live according to your will. Amen.

Friday, February 10 — Mark 10:32-46

Despite Jesus’ teaching and his repeated prediction of his suffering and death, the disciples are still blind to the truth about Jesus, about the Kingdom of God, and about Jesus’ expectations for their lives. The healing of Bartimaeus’ blindness ends this section of the Gospel. With it, Mark emphasizes the need for followers of Jesus to have their eyes opened, so that they can see clearly as they follow Jesus to the cross and beyond.

      • Mark wants us to understand that Jesus is the Messiah we need, not necessarily the Messiah we want. Are you willing to follow Jesus to the cross and beyond?
      • Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be the Messiah I need. Despite my reluctance to journey with Jesus, today I choose to serve and follow him alone. Amen.

Saturday, February 11 — Mark 11:1-11

When Jesus enters Jerusalem with his disciples, he is hailed as a King. The contrast between the events of Palm Sunday and Good Friday is intentional. Mark insists that Jesus is God’s King, but that he will be a crucified King. His crown will be made of thorns and his earthly throne will be a cross. Sadly, many people in Jesus’ day, and in ours, are unable to accept that Jesus’ death and resurrection is God’s greatest display of divine power.

      • Too many people prefer earthly, human power to the power of sacrificial love. Are you willing to trust the power of God’s love?
      • Prayer: Almighty God, even though I struggle to understand what it means to serve a crucified King, I long to experience the life-changing power of your love and grace. Amen.

GPS – Week of January 30, 2023

Monday, January 30 — Mark 4:35-5:20

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is constantly on the move. He and his disciples make several journeys back and forth across the Sea of Galilee. As they travel, Jesus continues his primary mission, which is to announce the Good News of the Kingdom. He does that in word and deed. The miracles are signs that God’s power is present in Jesus. The results of the miracles give us a glimpse into the nature of the Kingdom of God.

      • Think of times you have experienced God’s power. How did it feel? Was it frightening? Was it comforting?
      • Prayer: God of Power, reveal yourself to me today. Allow me to experience your presence and your power. Strengthen my faith and remove my fear and doubt.Amen.

Tuesday, January 31 — Mark 5:21-43

The Gospel’s healing stories not only demonstrate how the power of God can work in physical circumstances of illness and injury, but that the healing stories also demonstrate the larger story of what God is doing. For example, this passage tells us that God’s healing power is available to both men and women. (This seems obvious to us but would not have been so obvious to Mark’s readers.)

      • Have you ever wondered if God really cares about you and your well-being? Do the healing stories of the Gospel provide hope? Can you find yourself in the story?
      • Prayer: Healing God, pour out your gift of hope and love. Make me whole and grant me the gift of your peace. Fill me with the life-changing power of your grace. Amen.

Wednesday, February 1 — Mark 6:1-29

In the mission of the twelve, we discover that God’s power also works through the ordinary people who follow Jesus. The ministry of the twelve is an extension of the ministry of Jesus himself. Mark 6:6b-13 tells us that the Church — represented by the twelve who are sent — is empowered by God to continue and extend the ministry of Jesus. By the grace of God, members of the Church become the Body of Christ in the world.

      • Have you ever experienced God’s power working throughyou? In what ways might God use you to bring healing to another person? In what ways do you embody the Good News?
      • Prayer: Sending God, I hear your call and I am willing to go where you send me. Help me not only share the Good News through words, but embody it in my actions. Amen.

Thursday, February 2 — Mark 6:30-56

One of the themes in Mark’s Gospel is the “blindness” of the disciples. (See Saturday’s reading.) As far as we know, all of the disciples had functioning eyes, but still had trouble “seeing” what Jesus was trying to teach them. Mark tells us that even after witnessing the miraculous feeding of the multitude, the disciples’ “hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52).

      • Hardened hearts is a spiritual condition that blocks the power of God and the Good News of the Gospel. How would you describe the state your heart today? How would God describe it?
      • Prayer: God of Miracles, transform my life and soften my hardened heart. Help me to experience your love and receive the Good News today and every day. Amen.

Friday, February 3 — Mark 7:1-37

As Jesus and his disciples traveled back and forth across the Sea of Galilee, they went back and forth between Jewish and Gentile regions. On both sides of the sea, Jesus demonstrates God’s presence and power. We discover in these stories that the Good News of God’s Kingdom is for everyone, not just the Jews.

      • Have you ever felt excluded from God’s love? Have you ever wanted to exclude someone because of their heritage or background? What do these Gospel stories say to you?
      • Prayer: God of Love, I accept that you love the whole world, including people from different places and backgrounds. Open my heart to love them the way you love them. Amen.

Saturday, February 4 — Mark 8:1-26

The final segment of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (Mark 8:22-10:52) begins with the healing of the blind man (Mark 8:22-26) and ends with the healing of a blind man (Mark 10:46-62). During this time, Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. We are meant to understand that Jesus wants to heal all kinds of blindness, including the spiritual blindness of his disciples. When their eyes are opened, they will be able to “see” clearly what happens in Jerusalem. This is also what Jesus longs to do for his disciples today.

      • What is the state of your “vision”? Do you “see everything clearly”? Do you need a second touch of Jesus’ healing hands?
      • Prayer: God of Light, open my eyes so that I might clearly see your love for me through Jesus. Open my eyes so that I might see clearly and follow Jesus. Amen.

GPS – Week of January 22, 2023

Monday, January 23 — Mark 2:15-3:6

Today’s reading contains three “controversy stories.” In each case, Jesus is confronted by Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who were trying to reform Judaism by enforcing high expectations of piety and morality. The conflict with the authorities foreshadows and anticipates Jesus’ passion and death (Mark 2:20, 3:6). In this section of the Gospel, it becomes clear that the values of the Kingdom of God conflict with the conventional wisdom of the religious leaders and others.

      • Take some time for personal reflection and ask yourself if there is any conflict between the values of the Kingdom and the values you hold dear.
      • Prayer: God of new creation, help me see clearly that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Help me follow him and trust him, even when his values contradict my own. Amen.

Tuesday, January 24 — Mark 3:7-19a

More than once, Mark tells us that Jesus’ ministry is drawing quite a crowd (Mark 1:33, 37, 2:15, 3:7). Out of the larger group of disciples, Jesus selects and appoints twelve to be apostles. By definition, an apostle is one who is sent out, and Mark describes how the apostles would be sent out by Jesus to expand his ministry in the world, fulfilling the promise he made in Mark 1:17. Even today, Jesus is calling and sending people into the world, to tell people about the Good News of God’s grace.

      • Is it possible that Jesus has called, and is sending, you to share the Good News?
      • Prayer: Calling God, speak clearly to me today. I’m willing to listen. I’m ready to hear your guidance for my life. With your help, I will go where you send me to serve. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25 — Mark 3:19b-35

Even though Jesus is attracting a large crowd, his family is concerned about his behavior. Mark tells us that the controversy is continuing and that his family seeks to “restrain him.” At the end of today’s reading, Jesus makes it clear that the Kingdom of God creates a new family — a family that is a higher priority for his followers than their human families. These words can be difficult to hear. Family is very important to us, and we don’t want to choose between God’s family and our own.

      • How do you prioritize: your family versus God’s family?
      • Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the family of God. Help me make difficult decisions and prioritize my life so that my life will serve your purposes in the world. Amen.

Thursday, January 26 — Mark 4:1-9

The parable of the sower is not the first parable in Mark’s Gospel (see Mark 3:23), but it is arguably the most significant. It says something about God (who sows seed that bears fruit) and describes the kinds of responses Jesus and the message of the Kingdom of God receive in the world. It also describes the kinds of responses to the Church’s ministry when it spreads the Good News. It challenges hearers to ask themselves what kind of soil God’s Word will find in their own lives.

      • Which of the meanings described above speak most powerfully to you today? What kind of soil does God’s Word find in your own life?
      • Prayer: God of hope, I want my life to be fertile soil so that the Good News abundantly bears fruit in my life and advances your Kingdom. Let your Word grow in me. Amen.

Friday, January 27 — Mark 4:10-25

We find two general categories of people in the Gospel story: insiders and outsiders. The outsiders include Pharisees and Jesus’ family (see Mark 3:31). A defining characteristic of the insiders is their willingness and ability to understand the parables. The insiders understand these stories of Jesus as being relevant to their own lives. Outsiders do not. The parable of the sower invites us to find ourselves in the story and change our ways (repent).

      • What steps do you need to take today to become “good soil”?
      • Prayer: Merciful God, forgive me for the hardness of my heart and for letting the cares of the world choke out your Word. Let your Word will take root in my life today. Amen.

Saturday, January 28 — Mark 4:26-34

The entire passage from Mark 4:1 through Mark 4:34 is presented as a single speech or sermon. In the parables and the explanations, Jesus begins to describe the nature of the Kingdom of God and the ways his hearers can “repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). In the first four chapters of Mark’s Gospel, there are fifteen references to hearing or listening. According to Mark, Jesus says that how we hear and respond to the Good News will affect our whole life (Mark 4:23-24).

      • How is your hearing? What can you do to hear more clearly?
      • Prayer: Holy God, thank you for sending Jesus to be the Word made flesh. Give me ears to hear and a heart that is open to learning. Help me listen and grow in faith today. Amen.

GPS – Week of January 16, 2023

Monday, January 16 — Mark 1:16-20

According to Mark, one of the first things Jesus did after beginning his ministry was to call some fishermen to follow him. There are two important lessons in this story. One, even though they leave their nets, the fishermen don’t stop fishing. Now they will fish for people. Two, the fishermen immediately left their nets and their family to follow Jesus. The Gospel suggests that an encounter with Jesus calls for an immediate and complete response.

      • Think about your own encounter with Jesus. How have you responded? What has changed in your life because you have met Jesus?
      • Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus into my life. Give me the courage to follow him completely and help him to continue his fishing ministry. Amen.

Tuesday, January 17 — Mark 1:21-28

Miracle stories recorded the Gospels often point beyond themselves to larger lessons about God. For instance, when Jesus heals blind people, we discover that God can heal (our) spiritual blindness, and not just cure physical blindness. When Jesus’ words have power over unclean spirits (as in Mark 1:25), we discover that Jesus’ words (his teaching) have power to transform our lives. We encounter Jesus’ words when we read and study the Gospels.

      • How have Jesus’ words transformed your life? What miracle do you want Jesus to perform in your life today?
      • Prayer: God of power, I long to have a life-changing encounter with Jesus today. Open my heart to receive your word. Prepare me to experience the miracle of your grace. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18 — Mark 1:29-39

As Jesus’ fame began to spread (see Mark 1:28), many people come to him for healing. But Mark tells us that, as the crowd was searching for him, Jesus left to take his message and ministry to other towns. He took the message to the people instead of waiting for the people to come to him. In another important detail, Mark connects Jesus’ retreat into the wilderness for prayer with his clarity about his mission and purpose.

      • What helps you stay clear about your mission and purpose? How do you follow Jesus’ example and set aside time to be alone with God?
      • Prayer: God of purpose and power, help me to understand your mission and your purpose for my life. Show me how—and to whom—you want me to be in ministry today. Amen.

Thursday, January 19 — Mark 1:40-45

The healing of a leper was much more than simply the curing of Hanson’s Disease. A leper was an outcast from family, friends, and faith. So, when Jesus heals the leper in this story, he is able to return to his home, his family, and his worship. Since whoever touches a leper becomes unclean themselves, even the holiest people would not touch lepers. Jesus’ act (in Mark 1:42) was extraordinary and quite shocking.

      • Who are the untouchables (like the lepers) in our society? Do you think Jesus would reach out to them? Do you think he wants you to reach out to them?
      • Prayer: Healing God, heal me of my unwillingness to follow Jesus’ example and reach out to others. Help me to break down the barriers that keep us apart. Amen.

Friday, January 20 — Mark 2:1-12

Not only is this story a lesson about the scope of Jesus’ power and authority and the healing power of forgiveness (which is available through Jesus), it is also a lesson in prayer. Like the people mentioned in Mark 2:2, when we pray for others, we bring them into the presence of the one who can help them: Jesus.

      • For whom are you praying today? Do you know of anyone who needs the healing power of forgiveness? If so, take them (or yourself) to Jesus in prayer.
      • Prayer: God of grace, I confess that I am often paralyzed by fear and doubt. Help me experience your forgiveness. Set me free to serve you more fully. Amen.

Saturday, January 21 — Mark 2:13-17

When Jesus calls Levi to be one of his followers, he creates a controversy. Levi is a tax collector, a group of people who, in Jesus’ time, were considered sinners by Jewish society. Their association with the Romans made them unclean. Like touching a leper, eating with sinners was shocking to the sensibilities of the religious leaders. But Jesus says he has come to call sinners, not just the righteous.

      • How do you feel about that? Might Jesus be calling you to be his follower today?
      • Prayer: God of salvation, thank you for caring about sinners like me. I am ready to answer Jesus’ call today. I am ready to be his follower and his disciple Amen.

GPS – Week of January 8, 2023

Monday, January 9 — Mark 1:1-8

During the next few weeks, the GPS will guide you through the entirety of The Gospel According to Mark. The Gospel does not identify Mark as the author; the tradition of the church has provided the title we use today. However, the Gospel does have a title sentence. Mark 1:1 serves as the title for the Gospel: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

      • If this verse is the title of the book, why does it say, “The beginning of the Good News”? Is it possible that the 16 chapters of Mark are just the beginning, and that Gospel is still being written in our lives today?
      • Prayer: God of Good News, open my mind and heart to learn what you would have me learn this week. Grant me wisdom to understand the meaning of the Gospel. Amen.

Tuesday, January 10 — Mark 1:1-8

There are many possible reasons for John the Baptist’s popularity. One is that he was an interesting character, much like the prophets of earlier generations. Another reason is that his message was compelling and spoke to the needs of the people. Mark says that John preached “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

      • Is forgiveness a compelling message for you? Does it speak to needs in your life? Do you have a need to confess your sin and receive assurance of God’s forgiveness today?
      • Prayer: God of mercy, hear my prayer of confession today. Remind me once again that, through your saving grace, you promise to forgive my sins. Assure me of your love. Amen.

Wednesday, January 11 — Mark 1:9-11, Galatians 4:4-6

The baptism of Jesus is a significant event. It is so significant that each year, in January, the church calendar recognizes Baptism of the Lord Sunday. It reminds us to remember our own baptism and reflect on its meaning. As we consider the baptism of Jesus, we remember that our baptism is a sign of God’s love and our adoption as children of God.

      • Do you know how much God loves you? Read Mark 1:9 again. Hear those words spoken to you. You are a beloved child of God!
      • Prayer: Loving God, thank you for my baptism and place in your church. Remind me how much I am loved. Use me to share your love with others in my life. Amen.

Thursday, January 12 — Mark 1:10-13, Matthew 4:1-11

Even though Mark does not describe the specific ways Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Mark 1:12 provides an important insight into the event. It says that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus didn’t just happen to wander into the wilderness, nor was he lured into the wilderness by Satan. Mark says that the Holy Spirit, which descended on Jesus at his baptism, is the “driving” force in Jesus’ life.

      • Is the Spirit of God the driving force in your life? If so, where is the Spirit of God driving you today? Are you willing to go?
      • Prayer: God of Spirit and truth, I want to go where you lead me. If it is your will, I am willing to go into the wilderness, to be tested and strengthened for ministry. Amen.

Friday, January 13 — Mark 1:14-15

These two verses summarize Jesus’ ministry: he proclaimed the Good News of God, which was that God’s Kingdom has come near and is entered by repentance and faith. Of course, it takes the rest of the Gospel’s 16 chapters to fully grasp what Jesus means, but Mark insists that the story of Jesus is the story of God’s Kingdom, of faith, and of repentance.

      • As you begin to read Mark’s Gospel, consider your personal definitions of kingdom, faith, and repentance. Are you willing to let God expand or change your definitions? Are you open to new understanding?
      • Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me when I refuse to hear the Good News and change my ways. Help me turn my life in your direction and live a Kingdom life.

Saturday, January 14 — Mark 1:14-15, Mark 6:7-13, Matthew 10:5-7

Conclude this week by considering that Jesus’ disciples share the message and ministry of Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Jesus called disciples to follow him, but he also sent them into the world, to expand and ultimately continue his ministry. Their message is the same. Their ministry is the same.

      • Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus? If so, in what ways are you participating in his ministry? How are you spreading his message of God’s Kingdom, faith, and repentance?
      • Prayer: Sending God, forgive me when I keep your message to myself. Use me to share the Good News with others. Give me courage to do what you want me to do. Amen.