The heart of this text tells us that in Christ we are in right relationship with God: Jesus Christ is God’s all-sufficient pledge that we may inherit redemption as God’s people. The first verse reminds us that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.” God chose us in Christ to be distinctly different, to be holy and blameless before God in love—unconditional, unrelenting, and nonreacting love. Through Jesus Christ, God adopts us into the family, redeemed by Jesus’ blood and restored through grace. We cannot earn our way into God’s family; God bestows love on us through grace.
Today’s passage assures us that we are destined to be God’s. Our relationship with Christ helps us connect with God, whose claim on our lives extends “before the foundation of the world.” Paul assures the church at Ephesus and us that the Holy Spirit marks us as God’s when we hear and believe the truth of our salvation in Christ.
When we struggle through difficult experiences that threaten to unhinge us from our relationship with God through Jesus, we can rest assured that God has placed at our disposal all the resources we need to get through life’s hiccups. Jesus helps us remain connected to God. When we get in our own way, we can know that God has gotten us to this point, and we can rely on God to guide us and make known God’s will. Our relationship with God continues to improve as we remain connected through Jesus Christ.

Lord God, keep me grounded and connected through Christ so that I never stray too far from you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 6:14-29

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Lectionary Week
July 9–15, 2018
Scripture Overview

Two readings this week focus on welcoming God’s presence. David does this by bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. As the ark arrives, David dances with all his might, worshiping God with reckless abandon. In Psalm 24, the author poetically calls a city to open its gates and welcome the great king. These passages invite us to consider how willingly we receive God into our lives. The reading from Ephesians speaks of God’s eternal plan. While circumstances may seem chaotic from our perspective, God holds an eternal perspective and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. Mark tells us the sad story of the execution of John the Baptist, yet another example of a righteous person experiencing persecution.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19. How do you bless others in your daily life?
• Read Psalm 24. How do you evidence your willingness to be a steward of God’s creation?
• Read Ephesians 1:3-14. When have you experienced a “hiccup” on your journey and found God ready and willing to assist? How did that help come?
• Read Mark 6:14-29. When have you experienced a guilty conscience? What triggered it?

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