The Upper Room devotional reflection for Sunday, January 16, 2022 comes to us from Andrew Michael Ardoin of Louisiana

2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house.’”3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways…12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD.

Haggai 1:2-5, 12-13 NIV


I had no reason to dislike this person – I called him “that Christian” in my head – but we also didn’t have anything in common. I was 20 years older. He was a student. I was a maintenance worker. I’d seen thousands of university students come and go. Very few ever spoke to me. But he did several times. He even remembered my name. He told me about Jesus and encouraged me to return to church. “I need to get my life right before I go back to church,” I told him. “I’ll do it later.” I don’t know if he believed me. I didn’t believe myself.

He must have graduated because I eventually stopped seeing him around campus. That was 30 years ago, but I never forgot his encouragement. In time, I did return to church, and I’m glad I did. But I continued to wonder: What blessings did I miss because my faith was a low priority? I remind myself that religion is not a transaction. Even when we ignore God’s presence, God loves us regardless. But a relationship with God does require our response. when the Israelites answered, God affirmed, "I am with you." Now, through Christ, God is always with us.


Friends –

I suspect that each of us has a story about how we began to participate in our congregations. Many have been involved since childhood. But others have special, heart-felt memories about their path to becoming a part of their church. And many of us have wonderful memories about our experiences with church families. Those memories can empower a special connection with others already in that congregation. They can also provide opportunities to invite others into that loving community, creating new and special memories for others. And we can remember that God is always with us, even when we might not have been in church for a long time.

--Pastor bea


Dear Lord, thank you for your unconditional love. Empower us to respond by growing in relationship with you. Amen.

--Andrew Michael Ardoin

Prayer Focus:

Those Seeking a Church Home.

Thought for the Day:

Today I will look for God’s promptings in my conversations with others.