Michelle and Dan H. (2014)
“See,” Hannah said, “a few years ago I stood here beside you and asked the Lord to give me a child. Here he is! The Lord gave me just what I asked for. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will be the Lord’s servant for as long as he lives.” 1 Samuel 1:26-28
First Samuel begins with Hannah crying and begging the Lord to send her a child. This scene played out for our house for over five years while we tried and tried to have a baby. Frustrated and angry, we trudged down the path we chose, crying and begging, feeling forsaken.
Finally, and without warning, we realized there was a different path for us. We realized that the Lord had not forsaken us. He just had a different plan. Once we followed God’s plan, he answered our prayers not once, but three times. In the end, the Lord gave us just what we asked for, and it’s been more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. Now we give these wonderful children to the Lord, and they will be the Lord’s servants for as long as they live.
Dawn H. (2012)
1. Jesus presence 24/7.
2. Living in America.
3. My family, home, church and church family.
The list continues with blessings too numerous to list here. I know I am blessed and I’m wishing MANY BLESSINGS to everyone this Christmas Season and throughout 2013.
Konrad J. (2012)
Count your Blessings-
I can't count that high.
Rachel B. (2007)
What Joy has Jesus Brought to Me?
Love, family and friends
Carol M. (2011)
The Bible that I typically read is called “The Message”. The Matthew 5 passage reads: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. . . . Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
This is my hope for us this advent season. Let us open up to others: shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, sharing an alternative gift, baking cookies for our church, buying clothes and toys for a stranger, reading a story to a child, seeking to understand someone who believes very differently than you, listening to and sharing memories, surprising a colleague with a compliment, being in touch with someone lonely. We open ourselves to others and prompt them to open up with God. A pretty good arrangement all around!
Alia L. (2012)
I HAVE BEEN BLESSED
I’m thankful for having two loving parents who taught me right from wrong.
I’m grateful for my husband, Jim, and for all the 60 years we have been together.
I’m thankful for daffodils, daffodils, and daffodils.
Vicky E. (2011)
Leading up to the events of Matthew 5:14, Jesus has experienced the temptations of Satan out in the wilderness, learned of the arrest of John the Baptist, gathered up His disciples and traveled all over Galilee preaching and teaching the Good News about the Kingdom of Heaven. In His travels, he also healed every kind of sickness and disease, both physical and mental. He attracted huge crowds of followers who were eager to hear more from Him. One day Jesus went up the hillside and gathered all around him as he taught them the rules to live by-The Beatitudes. To be happy and blessed, we must abide by those rules to serve our fellow man and to serve the Lord. The reward for our actions will be entrance into the Kingdom in heaven.
I especially like the words in Matthew 5:13 (The Living Bible). Jesus says that we are the world’s seasonings, to make it tolerable. If we lose our flavor, the world will indeed suffer and we would be considered worthless. But, He tells us that we are also the light of the world. We must not hide our light – we must let all the world see the light, our good deeds will glow for all and, those that see will follow our example and praise our heavenly Father.
Pastor Pat (2010)
Rejoice that He was not born
Among mansions, chateaus, or palaces on high,
But a poor lowly stable hewn of stone
With heat breathed on Him from animals shown.
Rejoice that He lay there in a manger with hay
A joy to His parents while sharing this gift of love that day.
A joy to the shepherds to announce His birth
Caused a multitude of angels to come to the Earth.
When I think of His heritage as a King,
I am so grateful to be a follower to sing
Praise be to the Babe of Bethlehem
Who has brought the world peace from the great “I AM.”
Paul S. (2011)
Anticipation of Jesus (and Completion of Harvest)
Inspired by Elgin Darling, November 17, 2011
Seeds are planted in great anticipation
Crops emerge awaiting cultivation
The soil is dry but forecast rain is coming
Plants need rain but not the hail pounding
Sun and moisture in correction proportion
Faith and prayer are part of the potion
Summer is nearly over, preparing for the harvest
Tune the combine, give it nothing but the best
Anticipation growing, are the crops sufficiently dry?
Open up the barn, lets give a hopeful try
Making good progress now, boy, it sure did grow
Its mid-November now, oh no, is that snow?
Despite a long season and a few broken ribs
Expectation of finishing, lifts the tired spirit
Advent is almost upon us; 56 acres remain
Lights on the equipment lead the way, it is dark once again
No matter how the harvest concludes
The Lord My God will always come through
Bridget F. (2011)
God uses us to be His very own Christmas display. We can decide to be a lone candle hidden in the corner or we can reflect God’s love to our battered world. We can let a commercialized Christmas out shine Christ’s love or be a part of a glorious light display of love, compassion and forgiveness.
May Jesus lead you this season to areas where the world’s darkness needs His light!
Pastor Bob and Rochelle (2014)
If you are reading this devotion on December 25th, you have made it through the progression of all the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
Marketers would have us begin that progression well before Halloween, working our way through a greater and greater concentration of Christmas songs on the radio and Christmas movies on the TV, until we finally make it to that goal of opening presents on that big day. And really, that is not such a bad progression. We need and want something to get excited about that is worth readying ourselves and building our excitement until that day when it all comes together.
That said, there is a very good chance that you have progressed through a whole other process as well; a much more substantive process that has touched you in ways that may very well remain with you for the rest of your life. For, you have progressed through an Advent process; a process of waiting and preparation where you have become aware of your need for the Christ Child anew in your life. And as such, you have come to really want this special gift of God in your life. And through this Advent process, you have found yourself ready and yearning the arrival of the Christ, so much so that you receive that gift with amazing and perhaps surprising celebration in your heart. And you know your days ahead will never be the same.
All of this is our Christmas hope for you. For we may be assured, that for all the good and right reasons, Christmas has the substance to never get old, to always offer something new and fresh, and to always lead us through a transformation that is positively life changing, no matter how many of them we may go through. This is because every time we allow ourselves to live that Advent progression, we become more aware of just how much we need and desire the love and action of Christ in our lives. We go deeper in our personal and spiritual preparation so that we may move closer and grow more like Christ in the way we live our lives. And with each Advent Season, we more and more look forward with greater and greater anticipation to the renewal that we experience when again we receive God’s most amazing gift of Love in the very presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Dear friends of this faith community we all call home, may this be a Christmas when even more of your heart receives the very manifested presence of the Christ Child anew. May that presence shine light upon even the darkest of paths, and may it fill you with Christ’s hope and love every single day of your life. Christmas blessings upon you, those you love, and all who love you.
Paul S. (2008)
God has blessed me with the ability and time to remain physically active and fit. I rarely feel closer to God than when I’m out running and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of His creation.
Barb and Sam B. (2008)
In our lives come many gifts with the greatest being the blessings we receive throughout our lives. The greatest blessing is the promise of eternal life, which comes to us through our belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. As we look back over our lives, many other wonderful blessings have been given to us. For each of us there is the blessing of being raised by loving parents who instilled in us certain values that have helped us throughout our lives.
One of God’s greatest gifts is meeting and marrying a wonderful spouse. From that union, we have been blessed with a loving family. Throughout the years we have made many great friends and that is a blessing. Many of them are right here at Marble Memorial.
We are blessed with the beauty all around us with the beautiful fall colors, birds, and animals. It is also a blessing to see at Christmas time little children putting their money in the red kettles to help the needy.
At this Christmas time we extend our blessings and best wishes to each of you.
Terry S. (2002)
What does it mean to have Jesus in my Life?
I guess it becomes clearer to me when I think of life without Jesus.
I think of fear, helplessness, insecurity, the feeling of being along and the most remote possibility (if I were absolutely perfect) of life after death with our Lord.
When I think of what it means to have Jesus in my life, I think of love, grace, peace and acceptance of me (with my imperfections) and the promise of eternal life. “John 3:16. “ Sure do need that grace.
Vivian S. (2002)
I don’t believe I have experienced the Lord speaking to me, but I do feel he nudges me into action or different timing for action. One such time was when my Dad was in a nursing home. I had been taking my Mother most days to visit him and planned to go this particular Sunday. As I was getting ready, I felt the urge to leave earlier than I normally did. When we arrived Dad was alone and I soon realized there was a change in him, so I had time to get mother in a chair and I took his hand. He died peacefully. I am certain he was waiting for us to come. Thank you Lord for having us there. I am comforted with these words from Isaiah 41:23, “For the Lord thy God will hold their right hand, saying unto thee, “Fear not: I will help thee.
Sharon E. (2013)
Fire of Advent …………………….. Edward Hays
“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this advent time.”
Donna O. (2003)
Jesus has given me many throughout my life. One that stands out is my husband’s family. My own family wasn’t able to love or care as I grew up. Then my husband came into my life. He accepted me as I was, and my family also. He never spoke of their shortcomings or unloving ways. He just loved me and showed me what a loving family should be like. They are wonderful people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. They showed me how to love my own family without saying a word just by the way they live and love all who come into their family without judging. It has been said that Ted’s family, is a model for the Norman Rockwell paintings. I am blessed beyond belief.
Wilma B. (2010)
When Jesus came, so long ago
A Babe in that manger stall
Love came to earth to show mankind
God's love is for each and all.
God sent His son so long ago
Because he cares for us-I know
He cares all ways-through thick and thin
And gives us courage from within.
Where there is hatred, let it be
Subdued as others learn of Thee.
God's world would be such an awesome place
If hate and war ceased to deface.
There's room for one, there's room for all
No matter the color, size big or small.
Lord, may I ever heed your voice
And in my sharing, ask your choice.
So grant me Lord and Savior mine
To be forever first in line
To share your love and caring ways
Through out all my lifelong days,
Joshua J. (2010)
To me, He is all that is good in our world and all good that shall come.
He is the light in the dark sky that shall never dim.
He is the good of all goods, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.
He is the one true Messiah.
He is Emanuel.
Drew H. (2007)
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Six words. One sentence. The gospel truth. Jesus Christ reigns supreme over all the world.
For me, the unspoken implication is just as powerful: that which does not reign. Only one can reign; only one can have supreme authority. And if that One is Jesus, then all else is subordinate and has no ultimate authority in life. To these we do not bestow power to have definitive influence upon us.
Elgin and Joanne D. (2010)
Who is HE?
He is our way of Life.
HE is the one we put our trust in as farmers.
We are totally dependent on Him.
He is the one who brings the sunshine and the rain on our crops every year. We know HE will provide for us if we just TRUST in HIM.
It’s like the song, JESUS is our Rock. I know He is our rock, as throughout the day we can always talk to him. When we can take walks in the morning, it is so easy to be in conversation with Jesus. He is the one making the sunshine shine down on us everyday. We know He is there for our entire family in whatever they are doing. HE is our WAY of LIFE.
Justine D. (2010)
Who is HE (to me)….In Yonder Stall?
When speaking about Jesus, we need to know whether we mean the “Historical Jesus” or the “Living Jesus.” The historical Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a “yonder stall,” the son of a carpenter. He became a teacher, and was crucified at the age of 33. The “Living Jesus” is the Son of God who was resurrected and continues to live.
When we look into the life of Jesus, we find Love. Jesus touched the people of his time with Love. Jesus is both the “son of man” and the “Son of God.” God made himself known to us through his son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is not just for Jesus, it is for all of us.
Jane K. (2012)
I am blessed with fairly good health.
I have a loving son and daughters.
I have many good friends who care.
I feel God watching over me.
Paula D. (2009)
When I think of “Before and After,” it usually involves a change for the better. It makes me think of those TV shows, like Extreme Home Makeover, the Biggest Loser, etc. And it’s easy to see the improvement. But I’m sure that is not what Irma had in mind for our Advent Book.
It’s the spiritual makeover, which isn’t always apparent… and its this change that makes the biggest difference. May you ask Jesus to be with you this Christmas, to really share your life with Him and see how He can change your heart, change your Merry Christmas.
Andrea R. (2009)
Before and after I really came to know Jesus can be translated into, “I once was lost, but now I’m found,” as given in the hymn Amazing Grace.
Before I came to know Jesus, I wasn’t a whole person. In many ways, I had a good life—good parents, religious upbringing, good friends, good higher education, a professional career, and enough money. But inside I was kind of a mess—immature, self-absorbed, didn’t know who I was, not really very happy, and didn’t understand what life was all about, although I didn’t think of it that way then. I really was kind of a lost soul.
After I came to know Jesus, things changed. It didn’t happen over-night. Jesus made His presence known to me one time when I was in the depths of despair, and from then on, I never went back to the way I was. Jesus brought to me the reality of His love, the inspiration and healing of the living Holy Spirit, the reality of God our Creator, parent and sustainer, and began the awakening of spirit within me. I have been led to many places and many ways to learn more about the experience of God our Creator, Redeemer, Enabler, Father-Mother, Son Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit. I have experienced much healing and now know more wholeness, joy and ability to love others in Jesus’ name. I’ve got a ways to go on the journey ahead, but I can truly say with all my heart, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”
Roger E. (2011)
While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noted a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course with the other vessel. The captain instructed, "Signal the ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees."
The return signal countered, "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees." The captain signaled, "I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees." The response was, "I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change course 20 degrees."
By this time the captain was furious. His signal curtly ordered, "I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees."
The reply: "I’m a lighthouse. You make the call." Allow the light of Christ to be steadfast in your life. Shine where He says shine, Go where He says Go.
Gary Z. (2013)
I think of being prepared as getting ready.
Put your heart and mind in the right spot.
Think about God and Jesus.
Think about them all the time.
Don't forget about the Holy Spirit.
I would like to learn more and that is "being prepared" means to me.
Rod H. (2012)
Like the stars in a clear night sky, or grains of sand on an endless beach, my blessings are too many to name, let alone try and enumerate. God’s blessings are all around me and often I don’t even know them until afterward when I have time to reflect.
A good days work done, the smile of a friend, a bright young eye, a warm touch; these are all blessings unlooked for but welcome nonetheless. Blessings abound and the joyful among us are those who can see them (even belatedly) instead of the curses that lurk in the shadows and crowd the light from our hearts.
Be mindful of your blessings this day and this season. I hope that they overflow for you all the coming year, and most of all that they give you rest and time to enjoy them; each and every one.
Mary D. (2012)
I give thanks every day for the countless blessings God has given me. This beautiful world we get to enjoy; the green grass, trees in all seasons and beautiful flowers. For my loving husband, precious children and grandchildren. I can’t imagine my life without them all. I’m so grateful for my church and the friends I have there…Countless blessings that we all have each and everyday because of Him.
Greetings! This year's Advent devotions combine contributions from past years, interlaced with current contributions.
Introduction by the late Irma Ward, Pastor Emeritus:
"It is the prayer of those who have shared their Advent thoughts with you that this Holy Season will bring you a deepening sense of His presence. The One whose name is Emmanuel, God with Us!
Every page is personal witness of this fact, that in Christ we are encouraged, supported, comforted, challenged, forgiven, redeemed, blessed. Here are Scriptures of special meaning to persons in our fellowship; an intimate opening of hearts, a sharing of joy and pain, of promise and fulfillment. Some meditations are written by young children, others by youth and young adults, still others by mature and senior members of our fellowship. Each one reminds us we are one body, bound together in His love.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, we have beheld His Glory. (John 1:14)"