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Responding to God’s Love

Today’s Reflection

FOR THE CHRISTIAN, spirituality is the way a person responds to God’s love. It is the process of seeking and enjoying a relationship with God the Creator (Father), God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Christ). It involves learning about God; opening to the experience of God’s grace; loving and serving God, other people, and self; understanding and living life through the mind of Christ; and looking forward to being embraced by God in heaven throughout eternity.

– Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. Morgan
No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted

From page 67 of No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia by Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. Morgan. Copyright © 2009 by Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. 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

How do you define spirituality? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
Matthew 13:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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 Our Refuge

Today’s Reflection

GOD, OUR STEADFAST HELPER, you are truly great. In your constant care for us you bend close to hear the whispered cries of our heart and the anguished shouts of oppressed people everywhere. Strengthen your church to be a refuge for the poor and needy, and empower your people to join you in the work of delivering all creation from its ancient groaning. Amen.

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

From page 246 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God by Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, and John 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

But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Genesis 22:11, NRSV

This Week: pray for unconditional love. 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: Irenaeus (June 28).

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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A Life of Love

Today’s Reflection

THERE IS ONE TASK ONLY: the task of love. We are called by God to live this life with love for everyone. All that we do can be an expression of God’s love. However mundane the task, perform it with a generous spirit and grateful heart. The most insignificant task performed with love is tribute to God, and every act of charity or service done for self-gain or with hate—or worse, indifference —is a hollow offering to God.

– Christopher Maricle
The Jesus Priorities: 8 Essential Habits

From page 93 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 daily activities can you describe as expressions of God’s love? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:39, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Keeping the Sabbath

Today’s Reflection

Sabbath Rest

KEEPING THE SABBATH includes much more than attending church or synagogue, which can often turn into a day of rushed spiritual busyness. It’s more than taking a day off from your job, then exhausting yourself with other tasks. Most of us can make hard work out of play? Finding a day filled with genuine rest for the body and replenishment for the spirit is a challenging disciplines in this rushed and beleaguered world. It’s a radical and intentional commitment to carve out regular sabbath space, not waiting “until I have time for it.”

Here are some pointers to guide your commitment to the practice of keeping sabbath:

• Listen for what your body tells you it needs: a walk? a nap? gentle exercise?

• Rest emotionally from worry and stress. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own” (Matt. 6:34).

• Move slowly. Walk instead of run. Replace shallow breathing with deep cleansing breaths.

• Enjoy the activities that delight you. While cooking, for instance, may be drudgery for some, others consider it a joy to prepare a favorite dish while not looking at the clock.

• Don’t think you must be constantly accomplishing something.

• Hold the day lightly, allowing it to flow rather than being tied to a schedule—even a schedule of R and R!

Have the courage to arrange your life to conform to this sacred pattern that honors the limits of your humanness. Watch as your resting turns to joy and then to thanksgiving for the gifts of life and the blessings of down time.

– Linda Douty
Rhythms of Growth

From pages 175-176 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/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What new opportunities do you see for Sabbath after reading today’s reflection? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Everyone Is a Storyteller

Today’s Reflection

EVERYONE IS A STORYTELLER. I didn’t say that everyone could be a storyteller; everyone already is a storyteller whether he or she realizes and acknowledges it or not. …

Human beings live in story like fish live in water. We literally experience our lives as narrative—not as a series of random events but as a sequence of connected occasions and experiences stitched together in narrative form. … We learn to understand the world, other people, and God through a narrative lens.

We also live surrounded by God like the very air we breathe, often invisible to us but absolutely necessary for life. … For this reason, when we speak of our experiences of God, we most often tell stories. Telling stories is not only a way of framing our understanding of the world and the people around us but also the means by which we speak of our divine encounters.

– Michael E. Williams
Spoken into Being

From pages 13-14 of Spoken into Being: Divine Encounters Through Story by Michael E. Williams. Copyright © 2017 by Michael E. Williams. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Share a story of a divine encounter with a friend. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Romans 6:10, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Faith Before Feelings

Today’s Reflection

EVEN WHEN WE find ourselves in a place of complete loss, we can still believe there is a bigger picture. We can let go of our fears and hold on to God’s power to do more than we see possible.

In my first appointment as a pastor, I was sent to two small, rural churches in the mountains of western North Carolina. I was twenty-five years old and single, and most of my congregants were of retirement age. It was one of the loneliest times of my life. There was no office. No staff. I worked out of my study at home. I bought a dog to keep me company and to give me a reason to get out of bed at a decent hour every morning. I remembered wondering whether I really wanted to be a pastor. …

One day I went to see Dr. George Thompson, a pastor who served the largest church in the area. … I poured out my struggles, the self-doubt about my call to ministry, and how I was wondering whether I had made the wrong decision.

He explained that he viewed his own call to ministry much like he viewed his feelings about marriage. “Some days,” he told me, “I wake up and don’t feel like being married that day, but my marriage is based on a commitment that’s greater than my feelings day to day. My ministry is much like that. I have many days, and sometimes longer periods of my life, when I don’t feel like being a minister, but I continue on, because my call is based on God’s covenant. It’s bigger than feelings.”

Moravian missionary Peter Böhler once said to John Wesley, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”

Being able to place ourselves in God’s hands even as we doubt God requires putting faith before feelings.

– Rob Fuquay
Take the Flag

From pages 96-97 of Take the Flag: Following God’s Signals in the Race of Your Life by Rob Fuquay. Copyright © 2016 by Rob Fuquay. 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 do you do when you lack faith? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.
Romans 6:4, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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The Nature of Salvation

Today’s Reflection

IN A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE, both people eventually understand that being married takes work, and then they commit to growing together in love for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, Christians also seem to make the mistake of confusing the beginning of something with its end. There is an abbreviated form of Christianity that has become popular in recent years. It can be expressed in a simple statement: “I got saved.” When I hear someone say this, I cringe.

The main reason this statement is inadequate is that it suggests that all that really matters in people’s spiritual lives is one significant experience. They need to “get saved.” Nothing they do before or after that moment is very important.

When the church adopts this approach to Christianity, there is a lot of effort put into simply asking people if they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If the answer is “yes,” then we can check that person off our list. If they say “no,” then all of our effort is focused on trying to get those persons to come to a place where they will pray one prayer, often called the sinner’s prayer.

– Kevin M. Watson
A Blueprint for Discipleship

From pages 27-28 of A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley’s General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living by Kevin M. Watson. Copyright © 2009 by Discipleship Resources. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Discipleship Resources. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What does salvation mean to you? How do you describe it? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:17, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Choosing to Be Bold

Today’s Reflection

SOMETIMES I DOUBT my sacred worth.
Would fate just have me lose?
Although I feel the weight of doubt,
still I can choose
to be bold.

Sometimes I discount my own strength.
Do I have what it takes?
Yet even when I’m not convinced,
a choice I still can make
to be bold.

Speech could falter, knees might shake,
and courage all rebel.
But stumbling over genuine words
does not mean I have failed
to be bold.

I might feel gripped and choked by fear,
afraid to lift my voice.
But timidity does not have power
to rob me of my choice
to be bold.

– Misty Butler, Bowling Green, Kentucky
devozine

From page 55 of devozine: the devotional lifestyle magazine for teens, March/April 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

When have has God called you to be bold? How did that feel? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Psalm 86:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Praying for Others

Today’s Reflection

WE ARE NOT MEANT to travel through life alone. We are meant to encourage one another, to pray for one another, and to love one another. When we hear of someone facing a particular struggle, we often respond by saying, “You’ll be in my prayers.” But how often do we remember to hold this person in our prayers? We so easily say those well-meaning words only to let the action fall through the cracks and disappear into the busyness of life.

I have found the process of coloring the intercessory prayer mandala to be an especially helpful way to hold myself accountable to praying intentionally for others. Contemplative coloring provides much needed focus for my frequently scattered heart and mind. The intercessory prayer mandala includes small interior circles in which I can write the names of those for whom I’m praying. As I color, I hold each person in my heart and mind. In this way, I offer my undivided, prayerful attention as a gift to those I hold in prayer.

– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Praying with Mandalas

From pages 48-49 of Praying with Mandalas: A Colorful, Contemplative Practice by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. 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 helps you focus when you pray for others? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow.
Genesis 21:20, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. 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 More (June 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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Prayer for the World

Today’s Reflection

O GOD, Creator and Redeemer,
I bring before you this world you so lovingly made.
Forgive us for the ways we have turned our backs
on you and on one another.
Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

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

From “Prayer for a Hurting World,” page 42 in 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.Sharon Seyfarth Garner http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Matthew 10:23, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. 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: Boniface (June 13).

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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