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Difficult journeys sometimes bring out the worst in us. No one wants to be in the middle of taxing travel with no end in clear sight. At such times and in such places, our patience often crumbles into complaint. The children of Israel have reached just such a time and...

Gracious God, keep me from the poison of complaint, and show me your merciful presence in my life today. Amen.

Lectionary Week
March 5–11, 2018
Scripture Overview

Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Numbers 21:4-9. When has your complaining distorted your sense of reality? How do you maintain a sense of God’s presence?
• Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. Consider implementing a practice of rising from sleep to give God thanks and to call to mind the many ways God works in your life.
• Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Does your sense of God’s salvation engender a sense of grace within you and a desire to do good? Why or why not?
• Read John 3:14-21. Do you consider yourself a creature of light or darkness? Why?

Respond by posting a prayer.


The Art is Outside

“As the curator of The Upper Room Chapel and Museum, it is my task to highlight art and draw the viewer into the work itself. On clear days, the art is outside The Upper Room Chapel: gorgeous pink blossom clouds of the Japanese Magnolia trees. The blossoms don’t last very long. If you are in the Nashville area, take a few minutes to stop by and enjoy them. ‘We recognize God’s presence in the world around us,’ the author of The Mystic in You says. ‘Sometimes it comes because of our intentional spiritual practices. Other times, it comes when we least expect it and do not feel as though we deserve it.  … Geese flying overhead and a dog running in its sleep become windows into eternity when we pause, notice and open to the wonder of all being.’ Sometimes it is in a pink cloud of blossoms.”