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For years, I used these words as part of baptism preparation with young couples. On one of the three evenings, I would invite them to name some of the special Christians in their lives, ones who had influenced them, and to tell what made them significant. At first they would...
Thank you, God, for sending us many heroes of our faith who can challenge us to greater obedience to you. Amen.
The mercy of God is a theme that surfaces this week. In Exodus 17 Israel is not sure that God is faithful or reliable. By requesting water and voicing an urgent need, Israel appears to be testing God to discover God’s power and inclination. Psalm 78 praises Yahweh for grace in liberating the people from Egyptian bondage. Yahweh’s mercy sustained and supported them. Philippians 2 begins with a statement about the need for human kindness and compassion and then moves to the work of mercy that motivates human love—the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. In the reading from Matthew, the mercy of God, which is extended to those who normally receive no mercy, illustrates not only the inclusive nature of God’s grace but also how different the kingdom of heaven is from the kingdoms of this world.
• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When has your “speaking out” been met with negative response? Have you ever felt you were standing too “close to the cross”?
• Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Today, listen for God rather than speak of God.
• Read Philippians 2:1-13. When have you emptied yourself and become a servant?
• Read Matthew 21:23-32. How well do your actions match your words in terms of obedience to the commands of Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.
"Discovery Weekend changed me. I now have a better and stronger relationship with God because of it. Also, it has changed our church because people from all grades got closer together." (Discovery Weekend is an Upper Room spiritual formation experience for middle schoolers).