September 6: Higher Ways
1. How do you relate to the writer’s need to get things done in order to feel productive and complete? How important is it to you that you accomplish daily tasks on your to-do list? In what ways do you respond to interruptions in your daily plans?
2. How do you think Jesus felt when he was interrupted by requests to heal people? What does the life and example of Jesus teach us about interruptions?
3. Recall a time when God interrupted your plans. What was the situation? How did you feel about the interruption? What did you learn from this experience?
4. What characters in scripture had their plans interrupted by God? With which of these characters do you most closely relate? Why?
5. The writer of today’s meditation speaks about leaving undone the things God wants us to leave undone. What does God want you to leave undone today?
September 13: Making the Call
1. The writer of today’s meditation says, “I realized that my lack of forgiveness was keeping my prayer from being answered.” Describe what you think she means by this statement. Can you think of a time in your life when this has been true for you?
2. Recall a time when you needed to forgive someone and it was challenging to do so. What was the situation? Why was it hard to forgive the person? Were you able to fully forgive the person? What is your relationship with this person like today?
3. When have you needed forgiveness for something you have done to another person? Did the person forgive you? What was this experience like for you?
4. When a person asks for forgiveness for something they have said or done, how can we tell whether he or she is being sincere? Is it even important that we can tell? Why or why not?
5. This meditation speaks about God’s power to make all things new. When have you experienced God making something new in your life? What would you like to ask God to make new in your life today?
September 20: Differing Roles
1. First Corinthians 12:12 is the quoted verse for today’s meditation. Name some other scripture verses that speak to the idea that we each have unique gifts to offer God.
2. Why do you think it is that people sometimes attribute more importance to serving one role in church over another? Are there certain roles that are more important than others? Why or why not?
3. Has there ever been a time in your life when you have resisted God’s call to take on a certain task or help in a situation? What was God calling you to do? How did you answer God’s call? What was the outcome?
4. Name some of the gifts and different roles in which people serve within your faith community. In what ways are each of these contributions important? What is your gift and how do you use it to serve?
5. If you could serve God in any one role in which you do not currently serve, what would it be and why?
September 27: Prayer Changed Me
1. Do you think God hears all of our prayers at once? If so, how? Are some prayers more important to God than others? Why or why not?
2. Name a time when prayer changed you or altered a situation in your life. Were you the one praying or were prayers being offered for you or both? How did prayer change your situation?
3. How often do you pray? Do you have a favorite place to pray? Are there certain times of day in which you like to pray?
4. Think of a time when prayer did not change the result of a situation but did change your outlook on the situation. Describe the experience. What did it teach you about prayer?
5. In what ways has prayer changed your relationship with God over time? In what ways would you like prayer to change your relationship with God in the future?
October 4: Coming Alongside
1. Name some people who have been an example to you on your faith journey. In what ways were they an example? Is there a memory that stands out when you think of people who have taught you by example?
2. Who in scripture do you rely on as an example for your life? Why do you rely on them?
3. In what ways can you be an example to others on their journey of faith? What have you learned while on your walk with God that you would like to teach others?
4. Name two specific ways in which you can minister to another person in the coming week. What do you hope to show this person through your actions?
5. If you could write a note of gratitude to someone who has had a deep and abiding influence on your life but who is now deceased, what would the note say? What would you want this person to know about their effect on your personal and spiritual growth?
October 11: Who Am I?
1. Have you ever had an experience like the writer of today’s meditation in which it has been difficult to describe who you are as a person? Why was it difficult? What did this experience teach you about yourself?
2. How do you define your identity? How do you think God wants us to define our identity as God’s children? Are these two the same for you? Why or why not?
3. The title of this meditation is “Who Am I?” How would you answer this question in two sentences or less? Given your answer, is there anything that you would like to change about yourself? If so, what?
4. Do you think other people see you as you see yourself? Explain.
5. In what ways does your church community play a role in shaping your identity and the way you understand yourself? Would your answer to the question “Who am I?” be different if you were not part of a church community?
October 18: Hopping Over
1. When have you “stepped over” someone in need of help? Do you regret not offering to help the person? What will you do differently the next time you pass someone in need?
2. The writer of today’s meditation says, “Showing love to others is showing love to God.” Describe a time in which you have shown love to God by showing love to another person. What did you do for this person? How did he or she respond?
3. Should we give to everyone who asks us for help? Is there ever a time when it is okay to not help someone in need?
4. Have you ever had to ask someone for food or money? In what ways did this change your attitude toward those who ask you for help?
5. Do you think most people naturally want to help others? What does scripture say about showing compassion to others? How did Jesus model compassion in his life and ministry?
October 25: Where the Stones Come From
1. What “stones” have caused you hurt and sadness? How did these “stones” affect your life? How did you cope with them?
2. Recall a time when you endured difficult circumstances that would ultimately lay the foundation for something good to happen to you. What was the difficult situation? What good came from it? Should we expect good to come from every difficult situation we experience?
3. Has someone ever said to you, “Everything happens for a reason”? Do you believe this statement to be true? Why or why not? Is this a helpful thing to say to someone suffering pain, anguish, or grief?
4. Can you think of an obstacle that a family member or friend is facing today? In what way — big or small — could you help this person? What is your prayer for him or her?
5. What “stones” do you carry with you today for which you would like the prayers of your faith community?
“I praise God for the ministry of The Upper Room. After publishing a daily devotional, I received a message from a 16-year old in South Africa thanking me for lifting her out of depression.” Read Tony’s devotional here.