GPS GUIDE | Week of August 23, 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.
"Who Do You Say that I Am?"

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

READ | Scripture Reading
This summer we are listening to stories that Jesus told, and the gospel stories that are told about Jesus, to help us learn more about the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom which Jesus taught us to pray would come on earth, as heaven breaks in and God’s goodness and love bring about healing and wholeness.

As we reach the midpoint of Matthew’s gospel stories about Jesus, Jesus has warned his disciples about those who follow the teachings of the religious leaders. He has explained that while they understand something of the world around them, they do not grasp that Jesus is the One who will usher in the time of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus and his disciples have now traveled all the way to the far northern reaches of Israel, about 30 miles north of the Sea of Galilee, and have entered the district of Caesarea Philippi, a place that was built by Herod Philip as an homage to Caesar Augustus, complete with a temple where one could worship Caesar, who, by the way, added to his title of Caesar, “Divi Filius” – son of the divine!

But the temple to Caesar wasn’t the only temple you’d find there. The stony foothills of Mount Hermon had been the site where the ancient Canaanites once worshiped Baal, and offered human sacrifices inside a cave with a seemingly bottomless pit which became known as the Gates of Hades after the Greeks, and later the Romans settled there. The Greeks and Romans built temples to their gods, as well, including Pan and Zeus. There were stone temples and statues all around that stood as symbols of idolatry and earthly power and empire. And at the time of Jesus, it was a place where the Roman ruler was actually worshiped.

So it is in this setting that Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And even more pointedly, ‘Who do you say that I am?’

If we were to try to put this story into our context today, I imagine it would be like Jesus taking us to Washington D.C. – to a place where stone buildings and monuments stand to demonstrate the political power of our day, so heavily influenced by lobbyists and the mighty dollar, perhaps even a place of worship by those who have misunderstood government for empire, and leadership for deity. Because when Jesus asked those questions it was intentionally against a backdrop that represented the exact opposite of who Jesus is and of the Kingdom he came to establish.
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 16:13-20 (CEB)
13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18 I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. 19 I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.
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 asked the disciples who people thought he was, the disciples didn’t say a cozy, comforting friend of children or a “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” They compared him to prophets of the past. What were they like?

  • Many Jews of Jesus’ day believed that God would send an anointed king who would spearhead the movement to free Israel from oppression and bring justice and peace to the world at last. Many believed he would be a true descendant of King David. The word for “anointed king” in the Jewish languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, is the word we normally pronounce as “Messiah.” In the first century there were several would-be Messiahs who came and went, attracting followers who were quickly dispersed when their leader was caught by the authorities. One thing was certain. To be known as a would-be Messiah was to attract attention from the authorities, and almost certainly hostility. Thus Jesus’ warning to be quiet about all this. How would you describe the contrast between the way of the Messiah as envisioned by Jesus and as envisioned by the people of his day?

  • It is tempting to see the kingdom of God as one of power, where God’s people rule and implement God’s ways. Jesus saw the kingdom coming, however, through sacrifice and suffering. What are ways that you can emulate the Messiah as we seek his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

  • In worship we practiced an ancient prayer, known as the "Jesus Prayer" which is both an affirmation of who Jesus is, and a humble reminder for us of the saving power Jesus offers. Try praying this prayer daily: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
PRAY | 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 all parents, students, teachers, staff and administrators who are returning to school this week.
  • Lauren Wilken requests prayers for the friends and family of 26-year-old Kendall Schmook who died in a car accident last night. Kendall was her brother Marshall’s good friend and roommate in Bettendorf.
  • Dan and Kris Andersen ask for extra prayers for Kris’ dad and stepmom who are recovering from COVID. Prayers for Dan’s parents and extended family as we navigate Alzheimer’s with his mom and hip replacement recovery for his dad. We would also like prayers for Reaghan as she begins her second year at UNI under completely new circumstances and for Rhiley as she begins her “new” normal for the beginning of her school year.
  • Diane Hammond requests prayers for Madison's respite worker, Nancy, for a newly discovered cyst on her liver; and prayers for wisdom and guidance in making plans for Madison’s education and future, as many of the services that had been planned for Madison over the next two years are losing their funding and no longer providing services due to Covid and closing their doors.
  • Prayers for Jason Abbas and his family, as his grandmother has entered hospice care.
  • 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 Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix, read by Alissa Mangae and her nephew Maxwell. If your family would like to share a story, please contact Lauren Wilken:
Catch up with previous GPS devotionals on our website:

Children's Storytime videos & worship connection activities can be found at: