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Presence

Today’s Reflection

BEING TRULY PRESENT to the person before us is also a discipline, a spiritual practice. Often we are tired, in a hurry, worried about meeting a deadline at work, or perhaps distracted by the coffee stain on the white sweater we just bought. Yet we can hear Jesus’ words to Martha, anxious about food preparation and her sister sitting at Jesus’ feet as a disciple: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing” (Luke 10:41-42).

– Stephanie Ford.
Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship

From page 76 of Kindred Souls: Connecting Through Spiritual Friendship by Stephanie Ford. Copyright © 2006 by Stephanie Ford. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Look for opportunities to be truly present to someone throughout your day. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

Ephesians 1:20-21, NRSV

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

Did You Know?

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we want you to know that the staff of The Upper Room is thankful for you.

This week we remember: C.S. Lewis (November 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Gratitude

Today’s Reflection

OUR FIRST RESPONSE IS GRATITUDE. We thank God for such generous and nourishing gifts. Giving thanks opens our eyes to our connections to others. We see that we cannot thank God for the food we have and then turn our backs on people who are hungry. We cannot praise God for the bounty of the land and sea and close our eyes to the ways we abuse and pollute the soil and water. … Giving thanks to God is more than saying grace at the table; it is living lives that reflect God’s justice and love.
—Susan Briehl, Mary Emily Briehl Wells, and Magdalena Briehl Wells

– Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter
Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens

From pages 68-69 of Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens, edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Copyright © 2002 by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. All rights reserved. Used by permission. of Upper Room Books http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Think of ways you live a life of gratitude. Look for new opportunities to reflect God’s justice and love. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100:5, NRSV

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

Did You Know?

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we want you to know that the staff of The Upper Room is thankful for you.

This week we remember: C.S. Lewis (November 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Walk in Prayer

Today’s Reflection

WALKING IS not only a way to move ourselves from one place to another but also a Christian practice imbued with the same intent as every other Christian practice: to guide us into a way of being human that bears witness to God’s work of healing a broken, wounded creation.

When I walk, my life slows down. Rather than speed past the world around me, sealed in my car with the radio playing, I move slowly. Moving at the speed of my feet, I hear the sounds of birds, insects, and the wind blowing through the trees. The rhythm of my footfalls invites me into an awareness of myself and the world around me. This awareness leads me beyond creation to the Creator. … Walking, like all Christian practices, makes me more open and receptive, more mindful and aware.

– Thomas R. Hawkins
Every Step a Prayer

From page 20 of Every Step a Prayer: Walking as Spiritual Practice by Thomas R. Hawkins. Copyright © 2016 by Thomas R. Hawkins. 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 are able, go for walk today in an attitude of prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.

Psalm 100:1, NRSV

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

Did You Know?

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we want you to know that the staff of The Upper Room is thankful for you.

This week we remember: C.S. Lewis (November 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Hospitality

Today’s Reflection

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, hesed is a practice of welcome and hospitality among the Hebrew people. Hesed requires that the host and the sojourner eat together to signify welcoming and connecting with the stranger. It is clear to me that eating together is the sign of real community more than any other behavior named in the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures. …

It is not enough to feed persons who happen to be poor. If we are to be in community and have hope for our transformation as well as the transformation of those who happen to be poor, then we have to eat together.

– John Flowers and Karen Vannoy
Not Just a One-Night Stand

From pages 70-71 of Not Just a One Night Stand: Ministry with the Homeless by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy. Copyright © 2009 by Discipleship Resources. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Is there a homeless ministry in your area where you can engage in hospitality? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:23, NRSV

This Week: pray for wisdom. 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: C.S. Lewis (November 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God, What Do You Want Me to Do?

Today’s Reflection

LAST WEEKEND I started mentally gearing up to host a meal. What date? How many? Who? I’ve learned that a good dinner party includes people who share common interests but can also bring fresh ideas to enliven the table talk. I scribbled names of professional women with admirable faith, all lively conversationalists. The ideal grouping I envisioned. The perfect ladies’ night.

Even the thought of entertaining can prompt me to tidy up. Skimming through and discarding old magazines, I stared at a bold-faced headline that made me think twice about the potential guest list: “Guess Who Ought to Be Coming to Dinner.” I stopped and read the smaller print of the text by the Reverend Dr. Bonnie Thurston about Jesus and his “unacceptable dinner guests.” She asked, “What if I invited folks to dinner and did not worry whether they belonged at the table?” …

Lord, whether I’m planning a dinner or a day, help me to ask good questions, starting with, “[God,] What do you want me to do?”

– Evelyn Bence
Room at My Table

“From pages 24-25 of Room at My Table: Preparing Heart & Home for Christian Hospitality by Evelyn Bence. Copyright © 2014 by Evelyn Bence. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.
“http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Ask God, “God, what do you want me to do?” Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.

Ezekiel 34:20, NRSV

This Week: pray for wisdom. 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: C.S. Lewis (November 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Acts of Grace

Today’s Reflection

Freely Given

MY FAMILY was having a tough year. We were dealing with things we never anticipated. I didn’t confide in many people, only my immediate family, close friends, and the pastor with whom I serve.

One chilly fall day, the pastor knocked on my door. He said, “When my family was going through a difficult trial similar to the one you’re facing, the nicest thing anyoone did was to put money in my hand. So I am doing that for you. You’ll need it for gas or maybe food on the road. No strings — use it as you need it.”

Shocked by his generosity, I felt tears well up in my eyes. God knew my prayer even before I asked and sent a blessing that was free for me to receive. This act of love was a glimpse of God’s grace — a gift freely given, not because we have earned it but because we so desperately need it. In response to God’s generosity, we can become Christ’s hands and feet in the world, combining faith and deeds through acts of kindness — not to earn grace but because grace compels us to serve God and others.


devozine, November-Dec. 2017

From page 61 of devozine, the devotional lifestyle magazine for teens by teens, November/December 2017. Copyright © 2017 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Look for an opportunity for God’s grace to work through you. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

Matthew 25:29, NRSV

This Week: pray for courage. 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: Gertrude the Great of Helfta (November 16).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Turn the Other Cheek

Today’s Reflection

HOW CAN WE turn the other cheek, responding out of power rather than force in ordinary encounters with those who may be opposing us? If someone makes an insulting remark we usually react in one of four ways: (1) instantly retaliating, returning insult for insult; (2) launching into defensive explanations; (3) falling silent and brooding; or (4) deflecting the hurt by making a joke out of it. But if we can take a moment to breathe slowly and deeply and then respond from God’s power, we can look the offender in the face and say quietly and firmly, “I wonder if you really meant that in the way it sounded. If so, it’s time we talk about the real issues.”

If someone turns aside a serious conversation with flippant, inappropriate remarks, instead of giving a weak laugh or responding irritably, we can turn the other cheek of empowered dignity, turn our full attention to the joker, and say thoughtully, “Is there something about this conversation that makes you uncomfortable? Let’s look at this together.”

If at our workplace or at home someone gives a sharp, cutting criticism, we can meet it directly, saying, “The way you are saying this is hurtful, but I’m trying to hear the real gist of your criticism. I think I might learn something from your point if we can talk about it in another way.”

This way of responding (and I have a long way to go learning it!) rises from our own sense of worth, combined with willingness to learn and grow. It is not submission, nor is it aggression or defensiveness.

– Flora Slosson Wuellner
Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey

From page 55 of Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey: Nine Steps of Forgiving Through Jesus’ Beatitudes 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

What does the instruction “turn the other cheek” mean to you? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Matthew 25:18, NRSV

This Week: pray for courage. 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: Gertrude the Great of Helfta (November 16).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Trusting God’s Promises

Today’s Reflection

THROUGH MY WORK in spiritual direction, I find that many people have a fear of abandonment. As an only child, I felt that fear especially when my parents would go out for an evening. I didn’t know if I could trust the promise that my parents would return because of the lurking fear that one night they wouldn’t – and I’d be alone always.

Understandably, I find comfort in Jesus’ promise of promises: “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (John 14:18, RSV). In seminary I knew who my favorite theologian would be the day my professor said that Karl Barth’s God was the one who made and kept promises.

My favorite place as a boy was climbing to the highest branch of the cherry tree in our yard. … In that tree I would dream that someday a tree house might reside there. One Sunday the minister shared Jesus’ promise to “prepare a place for you” (John 14:3). I knew a better translation: “I go to build a tree house for you.”

This image has remained throughout the years, and I encountered another scripture passage that completed my childhood portrait. I would move in, and there would be a knock on my tree house door. There he would be as promised. He would say, “I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Rev. 3:20).

Even today while receiving Communion, this image of playing house together returns. It’s all about being able to trust promises.

– Personal Spiritual Direction
Becoming Who God Wants You to Be

From page 27 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

Recall a time when God you have experienced God keeping God’s promise to you. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, NRSV

This Week: pray for courage. 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: Gertrude the Great of Helfta (November 16).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Adoration

Today’s Reflection

CONSIDER for a moment what, in practice, the word adoration implies. The upward and outward look of humble and joyful admiration. Awestruck delight in the splendor and beauty of God, the action of God and Being of God, in and for God’s self alone, as the very color of life: giving its quality of unearthly beauty to the harshest, most disconcerting forms and the dreariest stretches of experience. This is adoration: not a difficult religious exercise, but an attitude of the soul.


The Writings of Evelyn Underhill

From page 20 of Writings of Evelyn Underhill, in Upper Room Spiritual Classics series, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 1998 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 prompts you leads you to adoration of God? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, NRSV

This Week: pray for courage. 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: Gertrude the Great of Helfta (November 16).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Beginnings of Prayer

Today’s Reflection

OFTEN PRAYER BEGINS as a longing in the heart, a longing for love, a longing for connection, a longing to make contact with a Power greater than ourselves. Sometimes it begins as a desperate need for help, peace, strength, or comfort. Other times prayer’s beginning is a deep hope for others — an ache for suffering to stop, for the earth’s healing, for care of the poor. Sometimes prayer begins in fear. We reach out for something to save us, to protect us, to let us know that we’ll be OK. Sometimes prayer feels like a longing that’s been met, like a deep spring of peace welling up within our hearts, spilling over and filling us with gratitude and love.
—Mark Yaconelli with Alexx Campbell
“Prayer”

– Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter
Way to Live

From page 278 of Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens, edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Copyright © 2002 by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. 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 prompts you to pray? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:2, NRSV

This Week: pray for courage. 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: Gertrude the Great of Helfta (November 16).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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