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Closer to God

Today’s Reflection

Chronic Faith

EVERYONE FACES TIMES when they are lost, confused, and scared. That time for me is most of the time. I have Crohn’s disease, a disease that causes my immune system to attack my digestive system and causes me a lot of pain. Being sick for the rest of my life seems all bad, and yet it has brought me closer to God.

Because I have a chronic illness, I have developed what I call “chronic faith.” When I need someone to turn to, I turn to God. When I have hit my lowest low, the Lord has saved me from the great darkness.

God has blessed me with people who help me get through the pain. My goal in life is to help others through the pain of disease and other troubles that cause them to suffer.


devozine, March/April 2016

From “Chronic Faith” by Lillian Droscha, page 10 in devozine, March/April 2016. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What life experiences have brought you closer to God? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for those trying to make a new start. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: James the Great (July 25).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God’s Goodness, All Around Us

Today’s Reflection

Watched Over Through the Night

OMNIPOTENT GOD, while we sleep,
your work in the world and in our lives continues.
In the stillness of the night, without fanfare or fireworks,
your creative work goes on.
Thank you for being ever attentive,
for offering us a life absent of worry about tomorrow.
Thank you for your grace that is more than sufficient.

We see you at work in nature
and in simple and lavish acts of kindness
extended from one person to another.
Your goodness is all around us,
beyond our sight and imagination,
never ceasing or sleeping.

Help us to let go of our anxiousness
and relax in the wonder of knowing you. Amen.

– Mary Lou Redding
Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments

From page 104 of Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments, compiled and edited by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2012 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.

Hosea 11:8, NRSV

This Week: pray for those trying to make a new start. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: James the Great (July 25).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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The Christian Life as a Journey

Today’s Reflection

I CAN UNDERSTAND why Christian spirituality is often described as a journey rather than a destination. The spiritual life is characterized by movement and discovery, challenge and change, adversity and joy, uncertainty and fulfillment. It is also marked in a special way by companionship, first with the One we seek to follow and second with those who also seek to follow Jesus Christ. …

There are times when our certainties about life seem seriously undermined, if not completely shattered. There are other times when, through conscious effort or quite apart from it, we move from disorientation to a new constellation of meaning and wholeness.

Life is not a stationary experience. New insights and developments continually challenge our understanding of life and our experience of God. Yet if we see the spiritual life as a journey, these cycles of change will not alarm us or turn us aside from our primary goal – to know and love God.

– Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson
Embracing the Journey Participant’s Book

From pages 18-19 of Embracing the Journey Participant’s Book, volume 1 in the “Companions in Christ” series. The authors of volume 1 are Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What certainties do you find yourself clinging to? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:13, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Keep Praying

Today’s Reflection

LONG AGO the prophet Jeremiah asked, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” (Jeremiah 8:22). He wrote his lament when his nation was suffering greatly.

Jeremiah’s heart was broken, his face wet with tears. Of course, there was medicine in the land, and Israel had doctors. But the kind of care the nation needed went beyond the power of pills or persons.

Likewise, we are never bereft of prayer, but we may need more than our customary views and practices of it. We may need to experience prayer in a new way – or more correctly, experience God in a new way. As one person said to me, “I want to know about the kind of prayer that will keep me praying when everything in me wants to quit.”

– Steve Harper
Talking in the Dark

From page 17 of Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Steve Harper. Copyright © 2007 by Steve Harper. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How have you experienced God in new, life-sustaining ways? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Luke 11:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Hospitality

Today’s Reflection

HOSPITALITY IS ALWAYS IN SEASON, and honey is a symbol of radical hospitality for me. …

One evening as we were preparing to retire for the night, my wife, Yulise, said she was experiencing some discomfort in her throat. I arose from our bed and began my noble odyssey down the hall, through the living room, and into the kitchen, where I put some water on to boil.

I soon returned to her side with tea and an unopened economy-sized container of honey I found nestled near the back of our pantry. I could not recall buying this honey and assumed that Yulise had shopped for the sweet during one of her monthly expeditions to the food warehouse.

As I squeezed the honey into her tea, Yulise told me an anecdote that gave my rather mundane action a metaphysical quality. Unbeknownst to me, her recently deceased mother had given us the container of honey. My mother-in-law, Gloria, would often purchase items for our family during her own weekend shopping expeditions. …

I don’t know how such a large container of honey fit into her shopping plans or what inspired the purchase. I don’t know if the purchase was planned or impulsive. But what I do know is that as I squeezed out the honey into my wife’s tea, I felt as though I was a conduit of a mother’s love to her daughter. I could not help but think that even though my mother-in-law had been gone from us for several months, her acts of generosity and hospitality continued to flow and to minister to us.

– Michael W. Waters
Freestyle

From pages 30-31 of Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture by Michael W. Waters. Copyright © 2014 by Michael W. Waters. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When have you been a recipient of hospitality? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Do Not Be Afraid

Today’s Reflection

FEAR KILLS A MIND AND SOUL by slowly obliterating the visions we hold for our lives. That we should not fall prey to fear is a constant theme in the scriptures. God does not want us to succumb to the chilling and killing aspects of fear; God encourages people not to be afraid of the circumstances in which they find themselves. It seems that one of God’s favorite themes is “Do not be afraid”” or “Do not fear.” Perhaps God repeats this theme so often because we so often fear circumstances that confront us in our lives and ministries.

– Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

From pages 185-186 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. Copyright © 2003 by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What makes you most afraid? Spend time with God in prayer and with your answer.Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:13, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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A Merciful Response

Today’s Reflection

THE ABILITY TO TREAT OTHERS with mercy regardless of how they treat us requires that our actions flow from principles, not circumstance. Being imperfect, we can sometimes allow the stimulus of anger, violence, or undesirable actions by others to dictate our own behavior. But we were not designed in the image of God to be reactive. We don’t have to let circumstance or emotions determine our responses.

– Christopher Maricle
The Jesus Priorities

From page 39 of The Jesus Priorities: 8 Essential Habits by Christopher Maricle. Copyright © 2007 by Christopher Maricle. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What undergirds your responses to others? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

Psalm 85:12, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Unspoken Prayers

Today’s Reflection

CONTEMPORARY LIFE provides precious little space for discernment, given the overriding burden of time. We hurry from one task to another, expressing thoughts and emotions on the fly but rarely sitting down to discern what they may be saying to us.

Even accomplished multitaskers know moments of loneliness. In a quiet, predawn moment or while daydreaming between gulps of coffee at a traffic light, an ache may surface. We yearn to share the ordinary ups and downs of our lives with someone, the unspoken prayers we don’t feel comfortable uttering at a church meeting, and experiences like the moment when we realized God had healed our heart after years of grieving a loss.

– Stephanie Ford
Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship

From page 63 of Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship by Stephanie Ford. Copyright © 2006 by 7/18/2016. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Do you have a friend with whom you pray regularly? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

85:4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us.

Psalm 85:4, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God Is Transcendent

Today’s Reflection

Knowing God

HOW SHALL WE EVEN BEGIN to know God better? We need a starting point that gives us some guidance as well as confidence. Over the centuries, some theologians and Christian mystics have suggested four premises that help us begin this journey.

The Divine Mystery is beyond human thinking. We are incapable of knowing God fully. We approach the Divine Mystery with the admission that we are never going to fully understand God – at least not while we are on earth. so we must begin with intellectual humility. God is more than we can conceive. …

God is transcendent. God is beyond our vocabulary. Because God is beyond full understanding, we do not have much to say about God. No words can fully describe God. … So we begin our journey in silence. We have to get beyond words – even beyond our unspoken thoughts – in order to reach a space where our spirit can be still. …

We are more than mind and body. This premise proclaims that our human understanding is not limited to the senses and the mind. Human understanding has three aspects. The first is that which we perceive by our senses. … The second aspect of human understanding is that which is disclosed to our minds. The third is that which is revealed to our spirit. Some call this third aspect of human understanding mystical insight, some the “third eye” or the eye of faith. . ..God is with us.The premise, which is perhaps the most encouraging, maintains God’s immanence, meaning God is within us. Indeed, as scripture tells us, “[God] is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). The spirit of God is near and accessible to us.

– Christopher Maricle
Deeply Rooted

From pages 35-37 of Deeply Rooted: Knowing Self, Growing in God by Christopher Maricle. Copyright © 2016 by Christopher Maricle. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What resonates with you from today’s reading? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

Hosea 1:10, NRSV

This Week: pray for new followers of Christ. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God’s Recreating Power

Today’s Reflection

THINK OF SOME SITUATION ahead of you in which you may be in a difficult encounter with another. Ask the living Christ to go ahead of you to prepare that place for you, so that when you get there, in time you will feel the welcome and the special strength God gives.

Think of yourself or envision yourself surrounded with God’s light, breathing God’s breath, giving yourself a space for listening, reflecting, then acting out of that center of inner strength. …

Give thanks to God that a deep change already is working within you. God’s gentle, radical power is re-creating you.

– Flora Slosson Wuellner
Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey

From page 62 of Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 2001 by Flora Slosson Wuellner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Accept the invitation in today’s reading to visualize Christ’s presence in a difficult situation. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42, NRSV

This Week: pray for victims of violence. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Camillus de Lellis (July 14).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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