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light

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to drive around town and look at Christmas lights. Each year I’m amazed at people’s skill and creativity. Some houses are decked out all in blue, some in multicolored lights and icicles, and some are done all in white lights, offset with cheerful red bows. Some lights chase and twinkle, while others give off a steady glow, but all are beautiful. All translate the happy, festive feel of the season.

Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” I suppose there are as many kinds of lights as there are people.

Some people are like flood lights, boldly shining in dark places, bravely speaking out for what is right.

Some people are like candles, glowing slowly and steadily with God’s love in their everyday lives, brightening the existence of all who encounter them.

Some people are Christmas bulbs, living their lives with humor and joy. A person can’t help but smile when in the presence of these people and the goodwill they seem to emit.

Whatever kind of light you are, whatever personality God has given you, I pray that you, and I, and all of us, will shine brightly this Christmas season, bringing joy to others and to the heart of God.
Peace!
Jean

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Lord, Here Am I

Lord, Here Am I

Master, Thou callest, I gladly obey;
only direct me, and I’ll find Thy way.
Teach me the mission appointed for me,
what is my labor, and where it shall be.

Refrain:
Master, Thou callest, and this I reply,
“Ready and willing, Lord, here am I.”

Willing, my Savior, to take up the cross;
willing to suffer reproaches and loss.
Willing to follow, if Thou wilt but lead;
only support me with grace in my need.
Refrain:

Living, and dying I still would be Thine;
yet I am mortal while Thou art divine.
Pardon, whenever I turn from the right;
pity, and bring me again to the light.
Refrain:

Text: Fannie Crosby
Tune: John Ness Beck.
Audio: Stephen Sollars
Photo: Belinda Brasley

of bread and blessings

Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like Him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave His life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God. Ephesians 5:1-2

I took my girl to get a haircut tonight and ran in to the grocery store for a few things when we were done. There were huge lines at every single register (even the self-checkout) and we only had a small cart with the top part barely full. An employee opened the register next to us and I told the gentleman behind us (who had a basket with 5/6 things) to go ahead of us and then we went over behind him. He had big crusty Italian bread on the conveyor. My daughter and I both looked at each other and said “Ugh, we should’ve gotten some of that bread.” (We have a pretty big love for bread). He overheard our silly statement and immediately offered to give us the free loaf because he was sure he and his wife wouldn’t finish both of them before they went bad. I politely refused and he went on his way. As the cashier was finishing up our items the man came walking back, hands full of his groceries, with two loaves of bread and another that he accidentally grabbed, and said “There was a stand with the bread right by the door, I had to bring some back for you.” It may not seem like a lot to most, but that little act of kindness made my entire day. Not just my day either, the cashier, my 8 year old daughter, and the woman in line behind us. It’s the little things in life that seem so unimportant, that really matter. So, thank you sir for being kind enough to take two minutes of your time and bring us that bread.

Lord, what do You want me to do for another today? Please lead me in my words and deeds. May the people with whom I interact see a glimmer of You.

Devotion: Emily Hopkins
Photo: Diane Domigan

like a quilt

The other night I was sitting at my kitchen table trying YET again to get this quilt to DO what I wanted it to. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve cried. I’ve bugged every friend (and my sister) to the point where I’m sure they have seen my number on the caller ID so much that they start twitching and thinking, “No – not again” (LOL). Now as I sit here and laugh hysterically I start to imagine that God gets a good laugh out of the “Adventures of Gina”! I bet He sits up there coffee in hand, and says . . . “OK, Let’s see what this nut is up to today.” I really am blessed that He loves me. I’m ashamed that I’m so much like this quilt. I don’t always fit perfectly. I’m stretched. I’m misshapen. I’m burnt from the heat of my failures and often off by a hair (hahaha) . . . and yet, He still LOVES me. I have to stop and say THANK YOU Father for keeping me under your Grace . . . without which I would really be lost.

Colossians 1:20-23 . . .
All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross. You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message – just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message.

Devotional Thought and Photo by Gina Nelson

nests

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. Proverbs 24:3

Before starting a project whether it be baking, wood working, sewing or gardening, we need to gather supplies. We can’t do a job without supplies or materials. Once we have the materials we have to use them or the project will not be completed. I am reminded of this each spring as I watch birds gather and build nests in our nesting boxes. First the birds spend a few days flying back and forth in and out deciding which location is the best place for their nest. Once the spot is decided upon they fly around the area gathering bits of this and dabs of that to create the nest. Once they are sure they will be able to find the needed supplies they start building the nest. As they build they must continue to gather until they have a strong safe home. They do not just stuff the box with one item. They gather what they need and weave each item in little by little. It is fun to watch the birds fly about choosing nesting material: bits of fur, a few small twigs, long strips of grasses and maybe even some yarn or soft batting. The birds do not just gather the supplies and then stop. They use the supplies and keep on working until the job is done.

We need to do the same with our spiritual “nests”. We should visit around our local area and choose a church home. We can gather supplies such as a Bible, our favorite Christian music, a devotional plan and so on. Once we have the place and some supplies we are not done. We have to put it all together. If we do not follow through and use these items to build a strong faith they will do us no good. The grass sprigs and batting lying on the ground in the collage did not help the birds just by lying there. The birds had to work hard and weave everything together to get it just right. God gives us His Word and His forgiveness but we have to use them to build a strong faith. It does no good to choose a church home if we don’t attend the services on a regular basis. What good is a Bible if we do not open it and read it? Christian music will not uplift us if we do not listen to it. God’s forgiveness will not transform us if we do not grab hold of it and weave it into our lives. Let’s take a lesson from the birds and gather what God has given us and use it to build a strong Christian life.

Devotion and Photo Collage: Marge McCoy

Memorial

Instead our usual Sunday hymn we decided to post this responsive reading in honor of Memorial Day. We hope you will click the link and let the background music play as you read the words of this meditation. May God Bless ALL who serve our country and especially those who give the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Responsive Reading for Memorial Day

Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country’s story:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the worlds common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:

WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

AMEN!

Responsive Reading from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)
Background Audio: Honor the Fallen by Mark Kueffner (Royalty Free Music)
Photo: Bob McCoy

manna

manna

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Something struck me as I read through my daily Bible verses today. I was reading in Exodus, Chapter 16, the account of the Israelites in the wilderness and I had to stop, go back, and read it a second time. Because I saw myself.
God had just done a miraculous work — parting the Red Sea, and now the people were murmuring for bread. God provided bread (manna) — all they had to do was collect it. But they murmured about the manna.
14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. (Exodus 16:14,15)
The people didn’t realize they’d gotten what they asked for because it did not look like what they were expecting. They asked for bread, and God gave them wafers that tasted like honey! (Ex. 16:31)
I think of the time I prayed about my finances. I imagined a miraculous work — the Publishers Clearing House van pulling up in front of the house with a big ol’ check. Instead, God provided an opportunity for a wonderful job. No interview required. All I had to do was show up!
And the time I prayed from the depths of my loneliness, and God provided a shaggy, ten-year-old poodle, the best companion I could have wished for — and all I had to do was adopt him.
In so many ways, God pours out blessings in disguise. Our part is to simply accept them, and be thankful.
Lord, thank You for blessings in disguise, for the manna You provide daily. Open my eyes to recognize them. Open my heart to receive them with thankfuness.

Photo and Devotional by Jean Pike