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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional) Empty Re: Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

Post  Admin on Fri 14 Oct 2011, 1:10 pm

Depend on God

Read Lamentations 3:17-26

The Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100:5 (NRSV)

Today's Devotional
WHEN I was 17, my parents divorced. My mother moved out and left me to live with my father, who had a hard time dealing with the divorce. I felt overwhelmed by emotional turmoil, both my parents' and my own. I was alone, with no one to depend on.

After following a self-destructive path for some time, I turned to God in desperation and asked God to help, save, and heal me. That was over 20 years ago; and with each new day, I am grateful for God's faithfulness.

Over time, I've learned to understand and accept that the people I love, care about, and trust will disappoint me -- sometimes deeply. I also know that despite my best intentions, I will sometimes disappoint them as well. However, God has never disappointed me. I know I can depend on God, who is faithful. Because God is faithful, I no longer feel overwhelmed, disillusioned, and alone. Safe in God's love, I am healed and wholly blessed.

Susan Driscoll (New Jersey, USA)

Thought for the Day: People inevitably disappoint us, but God never will.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to see how great your love is for us. Teach us to depend on you, to trust in you, and to treasure and proclaim your faithfulness. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Children living in divorced families

The scripture quotation is from the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION of the Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2011 by The Upper Room, a ministry of GBOD. All rights reserved.
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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional) Empty Re: Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

Post  Admin on Wed 17 Aug 2011, 10:10 am

The Journey Ahead

Hebrews 12:1-3
Jesus . . . said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

John 8:12 (NIV)

Today's Devotional
LATE one afternoon, I set out to drive to my parents' home. I was tired when I began the journey, and the sun was beginning to set. I found myself focusing on the horizon as far as I could see, and I felt overwhelmed by the thought of how many miles I still had to travel. I realized that I needed to shift my focus to the patch of road directly in front of my car, taking the trip one mile at a time.

I have experienced this same challenge in my faith journey. Often, instead of being faithful in the tasks right in front of me, I find myself concentrating on the destination, wondering how I am going to get there rather than seeking the One who is going to get me there. When I have focused on worshiping God and seeking Christ, God often has shown me the next step. The times when I have been faithful to take that one step, the next step became apparent, and then the next, and soon I was looking back over my path to see how God had brought me to a new place.

As Christians, we have a long journey ahead of us. How do we get to where we are going? We focus our eyes on Christ, and he lights our path -- one step at a time.

Kristin Hammer Evans (Tennessee)

Thought for the Day: Focus your eyes on Christ rather than on the journey ahead.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to wait on you to reveal our next step. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Safety for travelers

The scripture quotation is from the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION of the Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2011 by The Upper Room, a ministry of GBOD. All rights reserved.
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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional) Empty Re: Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

Post  Admin on Mon 18 Jul 2011, 3:36 pm

Making A Difference


Suggested Bible Reading
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
-John 2:1-11 (NRSV)




Today's Scripture

To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.-1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)




AS I walk to work in the cold and gloom of a midwinter early morning, I am cheered and heartened by the tiny points of color provided by the few tough plants that continue to bloom. These plants include the odd rose on a bush that has not been pruned in readiness for spring, the occasional geranium that struggles to produce a single bloom, or the bright marigold out of sync with the rest of the garden.


This experience led me to recall times when I felt discouraged, as if my small efforts counted for nothing. We all tend to compare ourselves -- especially our acts of love and service -- to others, and we may decide that we are doing too little or that what we are doing is of little consequence. Yet there may be times when our efforts can be compared to the tiny points of color on a winter's morning -- they may be just what those we serve need to cheer them up, keep them going, or let them know that there is still life, color, and beauty around them.


Yes, our efforts may be small, but that does not mean they are insignificant. God can use even the most ordinary people and actions to make a difference in someone's life. Turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana may not be considered one of Jesus' bigger miracles; but it made a difference to the people who were present.

Meg Mangan (New South Wales, Australia)

Prayer
God of all being, thank you for the small joys and surprises of each day. Help us to be aware of you in the little and big moments of life. Help us to let our light shine for you. Amen.

Thought for the Day
Imagine -- God can use even me!


Prayer Focus
To see God's presence around us
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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional) Empty Re: Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

Post  Admin on Tue 05 Jul 2011, 4:48 pm

Awesome Love

Suggested Bible Reading
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
-Mark 1:9-15 (NRSV)


Today's Scripture
As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.-Mark 1:10 (NIV)
SUMMER storms on Florida's west coast can be intense and frightening. As scary as they may be, I still feel a curious sense of wonder as I observe these storms approaching. Seeing dark clouds angrily churning just before a deluge begins is a scene of beauty to me. Such a display is testimony to the awesome power of the One who created weather.

I imagine something similar when I think of the day at the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized. The scripture says that heaven was "torn open." This wasn't a gentle parting; rather, it was a powerful display to announce the anointing of God's Son, Jesus.

And yet what followed was a tender statement of love from a father to a son: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). This same God who opened the heavens that day also reaches down to us in love. God is the all-powerful Lord who tenderly loves us and seeks our love in return. How can we resist or reject a love that is so awesomely, and yet gently, offered?
Michael J. Reynolds (Florida, USA)

Prayer
Kind Father, thank you for your amazing, undeserved, and compelling love. Amen.

Thought for the Day
go to www.upperroom.org to see video footage of a summer storm.

Prayer Focus
Those who feel unlovable
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Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional) Empty Beauty for Ashes (Upper Room Devotional)

Post  Admin on Tue 07 Jun 2011, 1:45 pm

Beauty for Ashes

Suggested Bible Reading
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion -- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
-Isaiah 61:1-3 (NRSV)


Today's Scripture
[The Lord] has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed.-Isaiah 61:1 (NRSV)


AFTER an exhausting afternoon of tutoring when I had lost control of both my students and my temper, I began the walk home. I was surrounded by ugliness. The streets of the city were strewn with litter and smelled of sewage. The inner-city children I work with struggle with many problems, and I was failing to gain self-control and good stewardship of my mind, body, and finances. Where, I wondered, is the hope for this city, for these children, and for me?

Taking a shortcut, I followed abandoned railroad tracks, carefully placing my sandaled foot with each step to avoid shards of glass strewn along the rails. Then I looked ahead. With my focus off of the ugly details that surrounded me, I saw something beautiful. The light of the setting sun hit each of those broken, dirty shards of glass; the shards reflected a dazzling brilliance. Trash became something altogether stunning when bathed in the light of the afternoon sun.

I realized that there is hope for this city, for these children, and even for me as the light of Christ transforms the broken and useless into the useful and whole. God gives "beauty for ashes." I realized that I do not have to allow the unpleasant details of life to eclipse the brilliance of God's love!
Aaron McNutt (North Carolina, USA)
Prayer

Dear God, give us a glimpse of you in the difficult circumstances of daily life. Help us see and reflect your transforming light. Amen.

Thought for the Day
Volunteer to work with after-school programs or tutor a disadvantaged student in reading or math skills.

Prayer Focus
Inner-city students and teachers
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