GPS GUIDE | Week of July 26, 2020
Weekly Grow-Pray-Study Guide
Each week we send out a devotional resource email to help you navigate
your journey of faith! Find scripture readings, reflection questions, a list of prayer concerns and a NEW children's storytime video below.
SUMMER STORIES FROM THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
"YOU Feed Them"

In case you missed it, view this week's online worship service:

READ | Scripture Reading
We all love a good story! And Jesus had a way of telling stories that could touch a heart, open a mind and change a life! In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus uses parables, or stories, to help people understand his primary message, that we must change our hearts and lives to help build the kingdom of heaven – a kingdom where God’s love can be planted like seeds that sprout and grow through acts of kindness and caring for others, no matter how small or ordinary they may seem. 

Matthew's gospel also records stories about Jesus – stories about his healing and miraculous acts – that help us to learn more about the nature of our loving, generous God; stories that help us to see what it looks like when heaven breaks into our world, and how we are called to help build this kingdom where goodness and love reign.
In this week's gospel story, Jesus has just learned of the execution of his close friend and cousin John the Baptist, and has gone off to a secluded place to grieve. But the crowds find him and flock to him, desperate to have him heal and help them.

As the day grew late, the disciples discovered another need of the crowd - hunger - as they were too far from the nearest village to find food. But we'll see that when offer what little we have first to be blessed by the power of God, we will always have more than enough to feed hungry souls in every season!

As you read this week's gospel story, think about the things you may have or posses that God may be nudging you to share or give in order to show compassion for others.
You are encouraged to use the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina as you read this week's scripture passage. Try reading the scripture through 3 times, aloud if possible. Pause when a word or phrase seems to “jump out” or “shimmer” as you read. Why does that word or phrase seem to stand out? What is God saying to you in this moment? What action is God calling you to?
Matthew 14:13-21 (CEB)
13  When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities.  14  When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick.  15  That evening his disciples came and said to him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16  But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.”

17  They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.”

18  He said, “Bring them here to me.”  19  He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds.  20  Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers.  21  About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.
REFLECT | Reflection Questions
These questions are designed to help you reflect on the deeper meaning of the scripture as it applies to your daily living.
  • When Jesus learned of John’s death he slipped away to be quiet and alone, but the crowds discovered him and thronged all around him. Under the circumstances in Matthew 14:13-14, what is remarkable about Jesus’ reaction to the crowds?

  • The disciples observe Jesus’ compassion and come to him with a suggestion which seems best for the crowds and for him. Why do you think Jesus counters with “You give them something to eat”?

  • In the face of the crowd’s hunger, the disciples said, “All we have here is five loaves of bread and two fish.” Think of a problem or need that stirs your compassion but that appears too huge for you to do anything about. How would you complete this statement? “All I have here is . . .”

"What Jesus does with what we give him is so mysterious and powerful that it’s hard to describe in words. We blunder in with our ideas. We offer, uncomprehending, what little we have. Jesus takes ideas, loaves and fishes, money, a sense of humor, time, energy, talents, love, artistic gifts, skill with words, quickness of eye or fingers, whatever we have to offer. He holds them before his Father with prayer and blessing. Then, breaking them so they are ready for use, he gives them back to us to give to those who need them."
- N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone
PRAY | This week's prayer requests
As a community of faith, we are called to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice. As joys and concerns are shared with one another, we take these to God in prayer. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer:
  • Prayers for Jason Abbas and his family, as his grandmother has entered hospice care.
  • Prayers for Diane Hammond's family as Luke spends 14 days in quarantine in his dorm room in NYC, as Madison once again adjusts to being the only kid at home, and as Tyler and Abby approach the last month or so until baby Thomas comes.
  • Pastor Melody shares the joy that Anne Marie has accepted the position of Program Director for Youth & Children's Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, and asks for prayers for her during her move and transition on August 16; she also asks for continued prayers for the family and friends of Henry Harris, Caleb's close friend since childhood, who died from a degenerative form of Muscular Dystrophy.
  • Prayers for all parents, students, teachers, staff and administrators making decisions about returning to school this fall.
  • Prayer for all those suffering with depression.
  • Continued prayers for Gianni Comito's 61-year-old mother who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • Continued prayers for Larry Conrad who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
WATCH | Children's Storytime
Children need tools to aid them in their journey of faith, too! So this summer, we're sharing a weekly Children's Storytime video from families in our church. We encourage you to share these with the children & grandchildren in your life! Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it."
This week's story is Jesus Feeds a Big Crowd: A Very Special Day by Dawn Brooks, read by Justin & Emily Young and Parker. If your family would like to share a story, please contact Lauren Wilken: lauren.wilken@polkcityumc.org
Catch up with previous GPS devotionals on our website: polkcityumc.org/gps-guide

Children's Storytime videos & worship connection activities can be found at: polkcityumc.org/pk-5th