Mary B. (2003)
God has blessed my life tremendously over the past year, especially over the summer while I was in Germany. First and foremost he blessed me with being able to go on the trip. Once again, thank you to everyone who donated cans and bottles and prayed for my travels; it was greatly appreciated. German teenagers have very different lifestyles than American teenagers, especially me. With the drinking age being 16, the majority of their fun is going to bars. The last weekend I was there, they had a party for the American students. Of course, there was drinking, smoking, and a lot of fun. Before going I was very leery and unsure, but I started thinking of is as a learning experience. I knew I was not going to drink, but I knew I would still have a good time. I prayed a lot before going. Throughout the night, I was reminded of why I was so glad I grew up without the influence of alcohol in my life. Now at college, I am very thankful for the experience in Germany. Every weekend at college there are huge parties that also make me mad, but my eyes are more opened to it. Though it is bad and not right, I don’t get as mad about the drinking.
Kimberly W. (2013)
In this time of Advent, as well as throughout the year, it is only with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that we can truly be prepared. In our most trying times, we turn to The Lord for guidance, support, and understanding. Without him, our lives would be empty and hopeless. With him we find fulfillment, hope, strength, and unending love. With him we are prepared for anything.
Molly M. (2014)
The Night that Changed Everything…on Purpose
The night that Jesus was born changed everything. God became flesh through his Son, and gave all of us the greatest gift of all, salvation.
But what if that night didn’t turn out the way it did? What if there had been an accident while Mary and Joseph were traveling? What if Mary hadn’t accepted her destiny to bear God’s Son in the first place, or Joseph hadn’t accepted her as his wife? The truth is, we don’t even need to ask those questions, because God had a plan, and it was in his hands the whole time. What was meant to be, was. Period.
In my own life, sometimes I need reminding that God’s got this. God has a plan for me. And God’s got my back, your back, all of our backs. Isaiah 41:10 tells us “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” When I remember that God has a plan for me, it helps me understand that I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing, even if at the time it seems unclear to me what the plan is.
So if God has a plan for me, what does that mean for the plans I have for myself? Things I want to do, accomplish, learn? What about that family trip we’ve been talking about? What about planning and buying the Christmas gifts, decorating the house, and baking cookies (not necessarily in that order)? It seems to me that God’s plans for us are probably more about the big stuff…The things that have a more significant impact, a longer shelf life. Things that make an impact in our lives and the lives of others and help build His kingdom.
Irma and Larry W. (2007)
So many circumstances can steal our happiness. We disappoint ourselves. Family and friends sometimes disappoint us. Or they move away – or worse, they are sicken and die… Jobs disappear, the economy plunges, prices rise, health fails, dreams collapse, rudeness rules, terrorists succeed---- or even just the ordinary annoyances and irritations of everyday life frustrate us.
But real joy cannot be touched, for it is the gift of the gracious, compassionate, loving God – whom Jesus Christ reveals. In spite of any circumstance, the gift of Joy sustains us—Scripture assures us “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Think of it – no matter our failures, our sins, we do no bear our guilt, our embarrassment or regrets. For they are “buried in the sea of His forgetfulness.” The human fear of death and the unknown future is banished, for Jesus himself said, “Do not let your heart be troubled. I will come and take you to myself so you will be with me.” The grief and despair we know because of loss, of bitter disappointments, or fear… all are overcome by the inviolate promises…. Who would not have amazing, unfailing, unbelievable joy with such assurances! Read them; believe them! We have the very Word of God! In Isaiah 43:2, “…this is what the Lord says—Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, …”
Caroline Z. (2007)
What Joy has Jesus Brought to You?
Marilyn K. (2007)
Jesus has brought much joy into my life in the form of happiness and love of my family, friends and church family. I also feel joy and security knowing that Jesus is by my side all the time, especially when I am scared. I also feel joy and grace. I know it is very cliché to wonder, "What would Jesus do?" But I do feel that Jesus is always beside me, guiding my words, thoughts and actions.
Helen E. (2010)
WHAT CAN I GIVE HIM?
I give Him my heart overflowing with His love.
I give Him my hands to do my part.
I give Him my mind to learn His teaching.
I give Him my feet to follow Him preaching
I give Him my voice to sing His praises.
I give Him my soul to fill with His grace.
I give Him my thanks for all His many blessings.
I give Him all that I am, all that He made me.
Tiffany S. (2002)
Knowing that Jesus is alive means to me that when I have trouble, He is there to help me.
Lisa J. (2012)
Someone once asked me, “If you were stranded on a desert island, which song would you choose to listen to over, and over, and over?” The answer came easy to me, Simple Gifts.
Originally composed as a Shaker hymn and work song in 1848, it has been added to our hymnal under the title “Lord of the Dance” and was popularized by composer Aaron Copeland in his arrangement of “Appalachian Suite”.
Julie Z. (2008)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
These words spoken by Jesus have always bothered me. Who wants to be poor in spirit? It implies weakness—wimpiness. What can be so blessed about that?
In the daily devotional that I have been using, the author, Brennan Manning, opened my eyes to what “poor in spirit” really means. It is to be empty, wiped out, lost, bewildered, scared, scarred… to be at a point where I need God. When I am full and all is well, I can get along jut fine on my own. In fact, when I am full of myself, there is little room for God. To be poor in spirit is to be ready to accept forgiveness, to be on my knees reading up, to be open to God’s Grace.
Wow! What a gift! When I need it most, God is there to fill my heart with tenderness, to fill my mind with wisdom and my soul with peace.
Dennis B. (2011)
I understand that Advent means coming. It is not just the coming of the Holiday season with gifts and family time and feasting. It is also the coming of our Lord as the Son and God to this earth. That is a miracle in itself. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He came to this earth to teach us how to live and love one another.
The most important thing is the coming again of our risen Lord on judgment day. He is the savior for all sinners who believe in Him. This is a joyous season with the news that Jesus came to save sinners who believe in Him. That is the best gift God could give to us.
Mary K. (2005)
I seek to be “in touch” with Jesus throughout the year, but, particularly during the Christmas Season. When I feel that I am listening and following our Lord, my life is calmer, happier and more meaningful. When I allow all the “busyness” to take the lead in my life (particularly during the holidays) all the little things seem to become sooooo much more dramatic, demanding and distressing.
It is at this point in time that I usually step back and think, “Oh Lord. This is all too much.” This is when a quiet voice will remind me it’s not too much. I’m just making too much of the little things and not concentrating enough on what is truly important in my day. The voice reminds me to love our Lord. Love each other and remember always that love begins at home. This is why I need to stop and seek Him.
Ellen C. (2012)
1. Reasonable good health.
2. Children grown and caring and helpful.
3. Friends! Many, many, many friends.
4. God in my life now and always.
5. Caring and friendly relatives.
6. I have a warm and comfortable home.
7. I have special relationships that are there for me when I need a soft place to “fall.”
8. Sunshine and rain in the right place at the right time.
9. A loving church family to uplift my spirits.
Karen B. (2008)
Blessings come in all ways, all shapes, and all sizes. Sometimes they are expected, sometimes not. But we know that they are always from God. The biggest blessings in my life have been my family, my husband, my girls and my grandchildren. This past summer I had the special opportunity to witness one of those blessings being born. To be able to be there and see the birth of our third grandchild is one of the biggest blessings ever. When little Brian came in the world last August I knew fully that God has blessed me, and I will thank God forever.
Andrea R. (2014)
Lord Jesus, as we prepare for our annual celebration of your birth more than two thousand years ago, so many of us know the joy, the inspiration, and the comfort of your presence in our lives as individuals, the healing and guidance you bring us every day of our lives! But it can also be tempting to just look at the turmoil in our world of today, and feel frightened and overwhelmed; wars and rumors of wars, terrorism, serious threats to our natural environment, economic and social injustice, excessive greed and materialism, degradation of our culture, and epidemics of disease. It's tempting to just despair and cry out for your return - Oh, Jesus, please come again and save us, save the world, save us from self-destruction!
Doris D. (2008)
My faith has always been guided by God’s hands. I was very fortunate in that my mother’s father was a Methodist Minister, as was her brother, my Uncle Jim (both in the Illinois conference).
Going to Church was such a part of what we did as a family. I still have quilts that my dad’s mother and my mother quilted every Tuesday, either at church or on quilt racks in Grandma’s living room.
When my husband died in 1999, my faith held me together because I knew he was in Heaven with our Lord and was no longer in pain.
Blessed be our Savior.
Betty K. (2005)
When I was asked to jot down my thoughts for this booklet, it gave me the opportunity to really stop and think… Why seek Him?
Life holds so many unknowns that I cannot believe one would not want Him to hold their hand during life’s journey. Life holds ups and downs for all of us.
The last few years have had many “unknowns” for me. When one has children, young and older, parents have the opportunity to ask for His help many times. When illness strikes your partner for life, you depend solely on His love for comfort and healing. And when this earthly walk is over, you ask Him to take your loved one home. Who would not see His love?
The last nine weeks have been especially challenging for me. Being in a wheel chair with a broken leg has given me lots of time to think and count my blessings. It would have been a very trying time for me if I did not believe He was there with me all the time. He had a purpose for what happened and I have had an opportunity to re-evaluate my life. I think this is part of His plan. God Bless each and every one!
Angie S. (2008)
I am blessed with the access and time to cheer for Milan High School and competitively on a travel team. God has given me strength to endure several injuries allowing me to continue with this activity about which I am so passionate.
Sam & Barbara B. (2007)
Joy--A Gift from God
What a wonderful gift! Joy is truly God-given. We heard a message while worshipping in Florida last winter. The minister told the difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness depends on something happening in our lives. It is dependent on an event, while joy can only be experienced through a close relationship with God.
We experience God‘s gift of joy when worshiping with His family, serving others as God’s servant, in the beauty that surrounds us, and the knowledge that He provides for all our needs.
God calls on us to share this joy with others. In all of life’s experiences, let us share God’s love with not only those who love us but even those that are difficult to relate to.
May God bless each of you this Christmas Season.
Helen E. (2007)
Jesus brings me JOY every day. His blessings in my life are numerous. Each day I thank Him for the many blessings and the abundant Joy and Love He has brought into my life. I thank Him for the many opportunities He puts in my path to serve Him. He has never failed to lead me, guide me, and support me through the rough spots in my life. Thank God for Jesus and all the blessings and joys He gives to all of us.
Ruth F. (2012)
MY BLESSINGS ARE MANY
My family surrounds me with love and brings me great pleasure and happiness. My friends are many and very special and precious to me.
My home is safe and warm and comfortable,.
My health is what it is and there is no denying my age is climbing.
I am blessed with a clear mind and I can still drive safely.
I have always been blessed with a good sense of humor and I still am. Praise God!
I love to hear people laugh and I think god does too.
I have been blessed with being a good cook and I enjoy sharing my skills with others.
I am blessed in my life and I care and pray for blessings on us all.
Adam S. (2008)
God has blessed me by blessing designers and engineers with the creativity to create things like, computers, iPods and cell phones. I don’t know how I could live without them!
Kathy S. (2008)
God blessed me five years ago with two four-legged friends, Jackie and Jewell. I was never one to have much interest in cats or any other pets for that matter. The blessing of these cats has given me a much greater appreciation of God’s creatures.
Molly J. (2008)
Irma used the word blessing when asking me to write a piece for the advent booklet. I immediately thought-–God is working on me again. For the past few months I have been trying to use the word blessing more. I think of everything I have as a blessing from God-faith, family, friends, church family, health, work and on and on. However, I noticed that I often do not give God the praise and glory for the many blessings He has given me. For example, if someone was not injured in an accident I might say, “Wow, you are so lucky you weren’t hurt.” Later I would think… Why did I say that? As a Christian, I do not believe in luck. God has a plan in everything. I often tell students in my class that they are so fortunate to have such a caring family. It isn’t good fortune; it is God that gave them such a loving family. I know many people may think it is just semantics. For me it is a small way that I can focus my mind on God everyday so I will try to use the word “blessing” more. God has given me everything. He deserves the glory and honor. Genesis 39:5 states “; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.” Thank you God. I am truly blessed.
Elaine M. (2007)
Jesus has brought me joy and I am thankful everyday, that I was raised in a Christian home. We also attended church as a family, on a regular basis. I know it has helped me deal with many things in my life. Thank you mom and dad.
Doug P. (2008)
Thank you Father for my only son, my first born. You made him strong, handsome, and healthy. You gave him a good heart when he was 5 years old. He’s 27 now. We hang out often and I would do anything for him. He loves his family. You gave up your only son so that we could be saved and become your sons and daughters through faith in Jesus. Your love for us is beyond our understanding. Your only son! I pray that you would bring Nick to recommit his life as an adult to you. For it is the only thing that really matters. By the blood of Jesus I ask. Amen.
Nelda P. (2008)
Lord, thank you for sending one of your children to us. Sarah has been a wonderful daughter, always knowing when I’m in need. A very caring and giving child. Thank you Lord.
Helen E. (2005)
OUR HOLY TRINITY
Caring, Giving, Forgiving
All-encompassing Love and Grace.
Healing Mentoring, Receiving
He is the way to Glory.
Caring, Giving, Healing
He is Love and Grace.
A Cinquain Poem
David S. (2005)
I seek Jesus because we hear that He can do great things and help us. He has powers that are amazing.
Carol Mc. (2008)
I am most grateful for the blessings of my faith:
* A solid faith that has held me secure through thick and thin,
* An active faith that I try to live out with my commitments,
* An uncomfortable faith that urges me to question my financial and other decisions in light of the world's needs,
* A forgiving faith that asks me to judge less and listen more,
* A curious faith that keeps me reading and discussing and learning,
* A growing faith that calls me to love even when it is difficult.
This faith is my greatest blessing.
Dr. Mike S. (2007)
His Spirit: let it sing.
We are able to live life free of sin,
Christ gave us ability to hear sounds within.
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)"