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After Jesus’ baptism, the same Spirit who descended like a dove as God proclaims Jesus beloved immediately drives him to the wilderness to be tempted and tested. This is perhaps the only time in the Gospel of Mark that we readily identify with Jesus’ experience, which makes us wonder, Are...
Ever-present God, give us a willingness to go through desert times to be converted to new life in Christ. Amen.
The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.
• Read Genesis 9:8-17. When in loss have you experienced a new beginning?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you remind yourself of your covenant with God?
• Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you given up privilege in order to work for justice?
• Read Mark 1:9-15. When did you last hear God speak these words to you: "You are my . . . beloved; with you I am well pleased"?
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"Discovery Weekend (The Upper Room spiritual formation weekend experience for middle schoolers) is a breath of fresh air for the youth ministry in local churches. I was impressed with the way it invited both spiritual maturity and committed leadership from our older youth as they served. Of course, our younger youth received so much as well." Read more about Discovery.