Have you ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book? As the name suggests, you make decisions along the way that determine how the story ends. Sometimes it is clear what the effect of a decision will be, but the implications of a choice are usually hidden and are sometimes comically unpredictable.
As you read today’s scriptures—in any order you choose—consider each verse by itself and then in conjunction with the others. A natural order begins and ends the readings from John, Acts, and Revelation with the very last verse of Psalm 148: “Praise the Lord!”
No matter how the news seems—good, bad, or strange—we can praise God, knowing there are grace and blessings embedded in what we have just learned. We might wonder how and why God “has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life,” especially if we replace “Gentiles” with “people not like us.” We might struggle to love one another so we can be known as the disciples of Jesus. And we might wonder how long it will be until those who are dying without clean water or are thirsting to know the love of God will be given water from the spring of life. But we do know the choice to make.
The first and last thing is to praise God. Whatever path we find ourselves on, we are to praise God with our worship and our actions. We praise God by following Jesus’ new commandment to love all people. We praise God when we show love for others by providing food and water—literal and metaphorical—to people who are hungry and thirsty for the love of God.
Lover of all, thank you for creating us to sing praises to you for all that we see and in all that we do. Amen.
Change can be difficult. It is easy to get comfortable with what is familiar. In Acts, some in Jerusalem criticize Peter for having fellowship with the Gentiles. Peter explains that his actions are not his own idea but are inspired by a vision from God. This change leads to the spread of the gospel. Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. God cares for the earth that God created, but at the end of time everything will be changed and made better. In John, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment, namely that they should love one another as he has loved them. This is how others will know that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Psalm 148 is not about change but is pure praise for the works of the Lord.
Read Acts 11:1-18. God calls Peter to initiate change. How do you respond to changes in your church’s culture? How do you discern what changes are from God?
Read Psalm 148. The next time you sing, focus on praising God and sharing God’s love through your words and melody.
Read Revelation 21:1-6. How do you live a full life while waiting for the new heaven and new earth?
Read John 13:31-35. In the wake of betrayal, Jesus calls his followers to sacrificial love. When have you needed to heed the call to this type of love?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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