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The Church Worships

Today’s Reflection

CHRISTIAN LIFE is thoroughly communal, for being in Christ means that we are in it together unto death and beyond. Thus at the heart of each church is a core of persons vowed to a countercultural lifestyle at odds with an individualistic society. As organically both divine and human, the church has used a beautiful image to express this — the Holy Mother church.

Certainly the church is human, with a goodly collection of hypocrites and sinners. Yet just as essentially is she divine — consecrated by Christ as his body on earth so that “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Gregory of Nyssa deepends this analogy with the idea of the church as nurse, its teachings being our milk, its sacraments our food.

Worship is at the center of the church’s communal life. While it may not always be clear what the shabby little church across town is all about, be assured that it is an invitation touching our deepest yearning — to be embraced in an organic belonging that God intends for the church to provide.

– W. Paul Jones
Becoming Who God Wants You to Be

From page 43 of Becoming Who God Wants You to Be: 60 Meditations for Personal Spiritual Direction by W. Paul Jones. Copyright © 2013 by W. Paul Jones. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Describe your Christian community. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side — let Israel now say —
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

Psalm 124:1-3, NRSV

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

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: Leoba (September 28).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Give a Gift

Today’s Reflection

WHEN WE THINK of changing the world, we feel unequipped, overwhelmed. We say, How could I possibly change the world? How would I even begin? Begin by changing someone’s life in your own hometown, church, or family.

Recently I received a gift — an unexpected gift I will forever treasure. After our recent mother-daughter banquet at the church I was visiting with the speaker, who is an author. She handed me one of her books, explaining it was a gift from one of the ladies who attended. The message was simple: thank you for all you did to put together this event. Every time I open that book, I thank God for the lady who purchased it and gave it to me. I was blessed by the gift, and I know that God has blessed the giver tenfold.

Start to change the world by giving a gift to someone today. Buy a cup of coffee, carry groceries, babysit the kids, send flowers or a card, or make dinner. Whatever you can give will bless the recipient, and he or she will want to share that joy with someone else. When you touch the hearts of those around you, God can use those little things to change the world.

Prayer:
Loving God, let me never consider any gesture or gift too small or simple but remember that each and every act of kindness can be used to further your kingdom. Amen.


Fourth Day Forward

This devotion, written by Julie Lawhead, is from page 43 of Fourth Day Forward: 60 Daily Meditations Copyright © 2010 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Notice and give thanks for acts of kindness. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Esther 7:6, NRSV

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

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: Leoba (September 28).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Christian Companions

Today’s Reflection

MEERKATS ARE among the most sociable creatures on earth. Because of their size, these small mammals must band together in order to survive the harsh conditions of the Kalahari Desert. From baby-sitting and grooming to hunting and defending, they do nearly everything together. Remarkably cooperative, they often display a high degree of selflessness. They find strength in numbers against enemies that could easily wipe them out one by one.

Christians need companions on the faith journey much in the way that meerkats need one another: for survival. The fellowship of companions in Christ strengthens us to face the world faithfully, enabling us to do together what we cannot do alone. Spiritual companions make us more than we can ever be on our own because God’s love binds us together. The presence of friends makes God’s love more real to us.

– Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster
The Godbearing Life

From page 129 of The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster. Copyright © 2008 by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Who are your Christian companions? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Psalm 54:4, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Trust in God

Today’s Reflection

SOMETIMES LIFE SEEMS UNBEARABLE. Our hearts and minds are weighed heavily upon, and we struggle to let go of all that burdens us for fear of losing the illusion of control we have over our lives. We call upon your name today, O God, that you may free us from worry and all that troubles our minds, bodies, and spirits. We put our trust in you, O God, this day and always. Amen.

– Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God

From page 151 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God by Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, and John S. Mogabgab. Copyright © 2013 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

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:37, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Passion for Truth

Today’s Reflection

WE NEED TO REDEVELOP our view of friendship and its purposes. In our culture, a friend is someone you enjoy doing things with, or perhaps someone with whom you share your troubles. But history bears witness to other kinds of friendship. In the 1930s, an impressive group of men began to meet in Oxford. C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and others, called themselves the “Inklings.” They talked politics and religion, and read aloud what they were working on. Just imagine: a group of young men hearing Tolkien read the rough draft of The Lord of the Rings and Lewis trying out segments of The Screwtape Letters! The criterion for being in the Inklings was simply this: Do you care about the truth? Members did not need to agree on the answers, but had to be passionate about the questions. Such a company of friends can be something like a school of virtue, in which we test our theories and practice doing good. …

Within the body of Christ we need to be intentional about the seed we sow, about how our behavior with friends should be preparing us for service out in the world. We need each other to draw us out of our self-centeredness. We need others to hold us accountable, to be like a mirror to help us see our lives and our doing in our faith more clearly. We need each other for mutual encouragement, to push further into serving the world than we might if left alone.

– James C. Howell
Yours Are the Hands of Christ

From pages 112-113 of Yours Are the Hands of Christ: The Practice of Faith by James C. Howell. Copyright © 1998 by James C. Howell. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Are you or have you been a part of a group described above? If so, how did being a part of the group affect your spiritual life? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Mark 9:35, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God Stepped In

Today’s Reflection

When God Stepped In

In with the “in crowd,”
I lived the high life.
People looked up to me.
I answered to no one.
I was popular.

I was above everybody.
I was too cool for God.
I was a fortress.
I didn’t need anyone.
I was wrong.

God stepped in,
showed me the way,
came into my life,
loved me.
I was saved.

Now the glory is God’s.
And I am a servant.
If I thought life was good before,
now it’s even better.

– Stephen Kolibaba
Taking Flight: 60 Daily Devos

From the devotion “When God Stepped In” by Stephen Kolibaba, page 24 in Taking Flight: 60 Daily Devos. Copyright © 2010 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 for a high school student today. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

James 4:8, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Christ’s Presence in Weakness

Today’s Reflection

IN THIS WORLD’S EYES, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they are never separated. Our ministry is to help people gradually let go of their resentment and discover that right in the middle of suffering there is a blessing. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the Kingdom of God.

Jesus says to us, “Cry over your pains, and you will discover that I’m right there in your tears, and you will be grateful for my presence in your weakness.”

– by Henri J. M. Nouwen, edited by John S. Mogabgab
A Spirituality of Living

From page 48 of A Spirituality of Living by Henri J. M. Nouwen, edited by John S. Mogabgab. Copyright © 2011 The Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Give thanks for Jesus’ presence in your weakness. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

James 3:13, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Christ’s Transforming Presence

Today’s Reflection

ANGER AND ANXIETY characterizes our lives more than patience and peace. We act in compulsive, competitive, and controlling ways. We have our addictions, though some of us hide them better than others. We lose our temper, and our tongues rattle off with meaningless chatter or hurtful diatribes. Then all of this produces grief and guilt because we don’t want to live in this way. A conflict rages inside us. We know we ought to love, and at times we desire it deeply; but still, more often than not, we do not do it.

Hear this good news: the experience of Christ’s presence is transformative. That presence compels and creates love, reorients and renews the human spirit toward compassion and kindness. That presence creates a whole new capacity to love God, neighbor, and self. I remember the story of the woman who stood in a worship service to testify, “I’m not what I ought to be. I’m not what I’m going to be. But thank God, I’m not what I used to be.”

Personal transformation is not left to us alone. We are not abandoned to our own will and wit. It is not just the warring elements in our personality that can determine the development of our character. A divine dimension beyond our psychic and emotional energy can empower us to love. An incredible gift is offered to us. Not only consolation, comfort, and companionship but Christ’s real presence collaborates with us in the process of inward transformation.

– Daniel Vestal
Being the Presence of Christ

From page 62 of Being the Presence of Christ: A Vision for Transformation by Daniel Vestal. Copyright © 2008 by Daniel Vestal. 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 are you being transformed?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1:6, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Points of Service

Today’s Reflection

The Sacred Intersection

IT’S EASY TO MAKE a narcissistic career out of spiritual growth. After all, theology is fascianating. Kindred spirits are usually wonderful folks to be with; retreats are relaxing; books are compelling.

However, the beautiful process of spiritual growth moves in a cycle of blessing that doesn’t stop with me, mine, and my development. It moves outward in a dynamic flow.

As lofty as that sounds, we know from experience that sometimes decisions about where to invest our time, money, and energy can vex and overwhelm us. Ideally, our inner work energizes our outer work, and we become less attached to what others think, what they expect of us, and whether they approve of us. We become less chameleon-like in allowing others to dictate and define who we are.

Our decisions about intentional service need to emerge from a thoughtful, reflective place where we weigh the needs around us and see where they intersect with our gifts, graces, and passions. That sacred intersection points to our place of service at any given time.

– Linda Douty
Rhythms of Growth

From page 207 of Rhythms of Growth: 365 Meditations to Nurture the Soul by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org.

Today’s Question

Where is your place of service? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who affected by natural disasters. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: Hildegard of Bingen (September 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Prayer Is about Love

Today’s Reflection

IN A SENSE, stories of answered prayer are thrilling, encouraging, and hopeful. Yet often I let out a sigh of despair when I hear a miraculous story or read a study about answered prayer. Even if God dashes off a miracle now and then, most of the time, if we are really honest, prayer just doesn’t work at all. Haven’t you pleaded with God for the recovery of a loved one, only to have those prayers seem to fall harmlessly to the floor? Who believes that God answers only the super holy, or those who pray more minutes, or in greater numbers, or with more fervor, or utilizing the proper formulas? If prayer works, it doesn’t seem to work very efficiently, or frequently.

Perhaps we need to reexamine this whole business of praying for this or that. Prayer’s value for Jesus did not rise or fall depending on whether it “worked” or not. He prayed in Gethsemane to avoid death! For Jesus, prayer was about love, not consequences. His relationship with God, whom he called “Abba,” an unusually affectionate word, was so passionate that the two of them had to be together regularly.

Prayer is actually an end in itself because it is communion with God. That same God is full of compassion, gravely concerned about the troubles of the world. Prayer called us into communion, not only with God, but with all God loves. Therefore, prayer, practiced even amateurishly, catapults us out into the streets to be in service.

– James C. Howell
Yours Are the Hands of Christ

From pages 28-29 of Yours Are the Hands of Christ: The Practice of Faith by James C. Howell. Copyright © 1998 by James C. Howell. 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 your prayers prompted you to action? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

Mark 8:29, NRSV

This Week: pray for people with chronic illnesses. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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: John Chrysostom (September 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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