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Relationship

Today’s Reflection

WE CONFIDENTLY ASSERT that the essence of our witness is relationship because God chose to become a part of this world through Christ. God-with-us is God-among-us, God sharing every part of our lives. The ministry of Jesus reflected God’s presence in the time he spent with people, especially those at the margins of society. The meals he shared, the conversations with outcasts and leaders alike, his concern for those who came to hear him speak, all remind us that the essence of our work is the forging of relationships.

Again, we are mistaken if we think it is our activities that are at the heart of mission. Constructing buildings, providing medical care, and helping with education projects are all important. But, more importantly, through these tasks we witness to the God among us.

A Mission Journey

From page 7 of A Mission Journey: A Handbook for Volunteers. Copyright © 2013 by General Board of Global Ministris of The United Methodist Church. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Discipleship Resources. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Where are you forging relationships? How is God a part of them? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

2 Samuel 7:13, NRSV

This Week: pray for the peace of Christ. 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: Dorothea Dix (July 18).

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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Change

Today’s Reflection

WHEN GOD INVITES YOU to change, God also helps you make the change. But don’t expect big changes to be automatic or easy. Human growth, whether rapid or slow, is a process that involves commitment, hard work, mistakes, and side trips. Almost always you must grow into a change, even after you have stopped a certain behavior. You will need to make adjustments and ask for more help, always paying attention and surrendering as you go.

– Tilda Norberg
The Chocolate-Covered Umbrella

From page 114 of The Chocolate-Covered Umbrella: Discovering Your Dreamcode by Tilda Norberg. Copyright © 2008 by Tilda Norberg. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What spiritual practice has helped you make changes in your life? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.”

Mark 6:24, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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The Faith Community

Today’s Reflection

PARENT GOD, you have placed the solitary in families and church is your family of faith. Yes, we can find you in our moments of solitude and contemplation, but we need the support, presence, and love of a faith community. Amen.

– Richard Morgan
Settling In

From page 170 of Settling In: My First Year in a Retirement Community by Richard Morgan. Copyright © 2006 by Richard Morgan. 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 role does faith community play in your spiritual life? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:11-12, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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 Away with God

Today’s Reflection

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.
–Isaiah 30:15b (NIV)

JESUS LIVED with noise. To cope, he took time away to center his thoughts on the one who is the source of all strength — God. In doing so, Jesus provides the perfect example of how we can refuel our tanks. If Christ needed time alone to rest and to be with God, certainly we do!

Look at your day. When can you carve out time to be alone with God? What noise will you have to tune out?

Commit to a regular meeting time with God. You’ll be amazed how refreshing it is to spend time in God’s presence.


devozine, March/April 2018

From “Quiet the Noise,” page 8 in devozine, the devotional lifestyle magazine for teens, March/April 2018. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When can you carve out time to be alone with God? What noise will you have to tune out? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

Ephesians 1:4, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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Giving and Receiving

Today’s Reflection

RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR ABBA FATHER requires that we learn how to give and receive in prayer. …

Let me tell you how I am learning to receive in prayer. Most mornings I arrive at my office about an hour before I start working. I begin my time of prayer by relaxing into God’s presence. I normally sit — quiet, relaxed — remembering God’s presence within me and around me. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me be open to the love and grace that comes to me each moment from God’s heart. Sometimes a few items weigh so heavily on my mind that I blurt them out immediately to God, but talking with God is not the main purpose of this time together. Receiving prayer for me is more about creating space for the Holy Spirit to work in me. I embrace other times when I can speak at length with God.

Once I have settled into the quiet, I read a few words from God’s good-news story in scripture. I usually have chosen a Bible passage before beginning my time of prayer. I am not trying to learn anything new while I read; rather, I am seeking to meet with God. It is like slowly reading a letter from my wife, Debbie. As I read, I begin to think of her. The letter helps me feel closer to her, and often I can sense my own love for her deepening. Most of all, savoring the letter renews my sense of Debbie’s love for me. Her words on paper help me receive her love into my life. I have this same experience when I read a scripture passage slowly. It helps me refocus on those warm rays of divine love and grace that God continuously sends out.

Next I receive God’s love and grace into my life by opening my heart and mind to God. This is the way I approach it: I have a favorite love-word for God. I whisper it over and over again as an expression of my love for God. Someitmes Iwill use the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” At other times I express no words, only the longing of my heart to know Christ more deeply. Then I sit in the silence with God with my hands open. Obviously, distracting thoughts jostle around in my mind and clamor for my attention. I don’t get too worried about this and have learned to let these thoughts go as they come. Then I return to my love-word for God or to my prayer for Jesus’ mercy or to my deep longings. This silent part of my praying forms the longest part of my time of receiving prayer.

– Trevor Hudson
Holy Spirit Here and Now

From pages 70-71 of Holy Spirit Here and Now by Trevor Hudson. 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 is prayer both giving to God and receiving from God? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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Imagining Scripture

Today’s Reflection

AT A RECENT RETREAT, Wendy [Miller] invited persons to read the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.

With a series of thoughtful questions, Wendy invited attendees to enter the story with their current circumstances. She asked them to imagine Jesus and the disciples passing by their home, work, or other situation where they, like Bartimaeus, felt confined or bound by a life circumstance. “Spend time with Jesus in prayer,” she urged the group. Jesus is asking what you want him to do for you. Go ahead and tell him, and then in prayer listen and watch to see what happens next.” After the time of prayer and sharing, group members encouraged one another to take the next steps Jesus had revealed in prayer. Many people found this approach to listening to Jesus transformative. Through it they encountered the Holy Spirit who is within and behind the story of Bartimaeus.

– Elaine A. Heath
God Unbound

From pages 50-51 of God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church by Elaine A. Heath. Copyright © 2016 by Elaine A. Heath. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Try this exercise with a friend. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.

Psalm 24:1-2, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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Living Story

Today’s Reflection

WENDY MILLER in Jesus Our Spiritual Director: A Pilgrimage through the Gospels, describes a narrative practice of discernment that she bases on a meditative reading of the Gospels. By reading and praying with the stories in the Gospels, we gradually learn to live into the stories of Jesus.

“Which story are we living?” Wendy asked me in a recent conversation. “We pause from time to time, especially when we need discernment about a decision, and we need to ask ourselves: Are we living the Gospel story or living the world’s story?” Narrative discernment for Wendy necessitates deep familiarity with the Gospel stories, first of all, and then learning to let the narratives speak to us in various life situations. By doing so, we increasingly incarnate Jesus’ love, wisdom, and life-giving presence among our neighbors.

– Elaine A. Heath
God Unbound

From page 49 of God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church by Elaine A. Heath. Copyright © 2016 by Elaine A. Heath. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Which story are you living? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

2 Samuel 6:15, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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To Hear God

Today’s Reflection

I HAVE BEEN LEARNING not to do all the talking during my prayer time. In the same way that I can only listen to others if I keep quiet, I must stop talking to God if I am going to pay attention to what God is saying to me. In my one-on-one time with God, there are moments when I am silent. During these moments I think about what I have read in scripture, I contemplate a gospel story, I reflect on my time of conversation with Christ, or I recall the events of the day. During these times, I pay attention to my thoughts and feelings and wonder what God may be saying to me.

But how do we know if what we perceive is from God? What criteria can we rely on for discerning that a thought comes from God and not from some other source? Thoughts from God have a distinctive feel, content, and texture about them. They have those characteristics outlined in James 3:17: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (NIV). Above all, whatever God says to us will always be consistent with the teachings of Jesus that we find in the Gospels. This is why an intimate acquaintance with his words is so critical.

– Trevor Hudson
Beyond Loneliness

From pages 58-59 of Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © 2016 by Trevor Hudson. 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 connection do you see between prayer and Bible study? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

2 Samuel 6:5, NRSV

This Week: pray to know God’s deep love for you. 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: Kateri Tekakwitha (July 14).

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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Listen to Nature

Today’s Reflection

Nature

LISTEN TO THE VOICE of the rainbow,
bend to morning sounds of the dew
hear the gentle tones of the flowers,
their songs they will sing to you.

For you were created for hearing
their lyrics more lucent than speech
that come to you through the silence
to comfort, inspire, teach.

– Gerrie L. Grimsley and Jane J. Young
Contemplative by Design

From page 76 of Contemplative by Design: Creating Quiet Spaces for Retreats, Workshops, Churches, and Personal Settings by Gerrie L. Grimsley and Jane J. Young. Copyright © 2008 by Gerrie L. Grimsley and Jane J. Young. 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 get’s your creativity flowing? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”

Mark 6:4, NRSV

This Week: pray an increase of love of neighbor. 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: Thomas (July 3).

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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Love with Joy

    Today’s Reflection

    REMEMBERING TO PRAY for our creative work and to engage in the practices that sustain our work can feel like a lot of work in itself. But I think of Amma Syncletia, a desert mother who had a keen understanding of the forces of resistance that come from within as well as from without. Syncletia once said, “In the beginning there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing towards God and afterward, ineffable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire: at first they are choked by the smoke and cry, and by this means obtain what they seek (as it is said: ‘Our God is a consuming fire’ [Heb. 12:24]): so we alsmo must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through tears and hard work.”

    BLESSING
    May everything that keeps you from your work
    give way to your work.
    May the God who created you
    encompass and protect you,
    and may you love with joy
    deeper and deeper still
    into the life that God
    has made for you.

    – Jan L. Richardson
    In the Sanctuary of Women

    From pages 245-246 of In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection & Prayer by Jan L. Richardson. Copyright © 2010 by Jan L. Richardson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

    Today’s Question

    Pray today’s blessing. Share your thoughts.

    Today’s Scripture

    Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”

    Mark 6:4, NRSV

    This Week: pray an increase of love of neighbor. 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: Thomas (July 3).

    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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