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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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Open Prayer

Today’s Reflection

PART OF LEARNING to pray continually is to stay open in prayer. Sometimes after we say amen, we check off prayer on our to-do list and shut down the conversation. But God has invited us — called us — to pray without ceasing, to keep the conversation going all day, every day. The hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is absolutely correct: “What a privilege to carry every thing to God in prayer!”

– Jenny Youngman
Scrambled Starts

From page 67 of Scrambled Starts: Family Prayers for Morning, Bedtime, and Everything In-Between by Jenny Youngman. Copyright © 2015 by Jenny Youngman. 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 can you do differently to keep praying all day? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

James 4:3, 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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Radical Humility

Today’s Reflection

FOR ME, the spiritual journey is not about growing more certain about the world, but rather about embracing more and more the mystery at the heart of everything and living into the great questions of life. In a world where so many people are so very certain about the nature of things, especially in religious circles about who God includes and excludes, I believe unknowing calls us to a radical humility.

Weavings, May/June/July 2015

From “Embracing a Midwinter God” by Christine Valters Painterner, page 30 inWeavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, May/June/July 2015. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about Weavings.

Today’s Question

How does uncertainty work to make you humble? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.

James 3:16, 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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Comfort Me, God

Today’s Reflection

I GAZE out the window at the oak tree my children and grandchildren used to climb.
Now that I am alone, the memories of this house comfort me.
I wish I could roll back the clock to an earlier time when laughter and music filled these rooms, but I can’t.
On days when I feel sad and lonely, I find comfort in the familiarity of home. My home.
The kitchen window overlooks the crape myrtle that blooms every spring.
The squeaky screen door announces a neighbor’s arrival.
The workshop smells of oil and wood shavings.
My family members think it is time for me to move, but I cannot imagine my life compressed into a single-room apartment.
I have tried to digest their concerns—
I need more help; I can no longer live safely on my own; I am alone; my home is too expensive to maintain.
I know they mean well, but the idea of moving brings anxiety and fear.
O Lord, I don’t know what to do.
How can I leave the place that brings so much joy to what time I have left?
Comfort me, God, and give me direction.


Voices of Aging

From page 53 of Voices of Aging: Adult Children and Aging Parents Talk with God by Missy Buchanan. Copyright © 2015 by Missy Buchanan. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Visit or call an elderly loved one today. 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 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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Journaling

Today’s Reflection

THE TIME-TESTED PRACTICE of journaling is a discipline of the mind as well as the body. Just writing something down often provides immediate relief, especially if we allow the words to move from our minds down the arm to the page without passing by that pesky editor who lives in our heads.

Think of journaling as a kind of divine flow chart, with feelings moving from the head to the heart to the paper. In spiritual journaling, the inner critic needs to be fired — you know, the one who says, “That’s not a complete sentence. Did you spell that correctly? What will people think if they read this? Surely you don’t mean that! Are you nuts?”

Over time, a kind of spontaneous conversation develops on the pages. New thoughts bubble up. Solutions and insights appear. God guides us through the unfettered expressions of the soul as we write those longings on paper.

– Linda Douty
Praying in the Messiness of Life

From page 48 of Praying in the Messiness of Life: 7 Ways to Renew Your Relationship with God by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2011 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

If you journal, what advice would you give someone who is starting? If not, what do you want to know about journaling? 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 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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Time

Today’s Reflection

TIME (or rather, the lack of it) is a great source of worry for many. For some reason, you may have the idea that there isn’t enough time to go around. Twenty-four hours in a day are too few to do what needs to be done. Twenty-five or even twenty-six hours would do the trick. Perhaps you wish for a forty-day month!

Where did we get the idea that time is a finite commodity? The psalmist says, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night” (Ps. 90:4). God’s time is an infinite quantity. Time is a divine gift — limitless and beyond counting. How does that thought change your perspective on time? Are you suddenly feeling less rushed and harried?

When all is said and done, the only time you really have is this moment. The past moment is gone; the future moment is yet to come. A lot can happen between this moment and the next: a phone call could change your life; a heart attack could take it away. You have only this moment to concern you. If you’re feeling anxious about time, take this moment and pray that God will give you the time you need to do what needs to be done. Time is God’s gift, and when you become mindful of this gift, you’ll be surprised to find that the time you need is suddenly there. It’s as if the clock is slowed down or that the minutes stretch out before you, limitless and abundant.

– Patricia Wilson
Freedom from Worry

From page 43 of Freedom from Worry: 28 Days of Prayer by Patricia Wilson. Copyright © 2012 by Patricia Wilson. 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 happens in your life that keeps you from living in the moment? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20, 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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Standing Firm

Today’s Reflection

WE HAVE PLACES of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well — places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety. As we stand in one of those places, fear may remain close at hand and our spirits may still tremble. But now we stand on ground that will support us, ground from which we can lead others toward a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.

– Excerpt is from “Standing Firm” by Parker J. Palmer
Hope

From page 27 of Hope: It’s More Than Wishful Thinking, compiled and introduced by Amy Lyles Wilson. Excerpt is from “Standing Firm” by Parker J. Palmer. Copyright © 2010 by Fresh Air Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Describe the “ground” on which you stand. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.

Proverbs 1:20, 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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