First Light is a short devotional that is posted daily throughout the week via email and this blog.  If you are interested in receiving a copy in your email, just contact us at and tell us you would like to receive First Light.

We don't know what we don't know

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, December 17, 2018 @ 7:56 AM

"This man is not from God."

John 9:16

The greatest scandal in world history is that when God came down to the earth He had created the church killed Him after declaring that He was not God. The technical reason was that "no prophet arises out of Galilee". What they didn't know was that Jesus did not come from Galilee although he had lived there. He was born in Bethlehem as the Bible said He would be. Their blindness killed their King. A wise man or woman would be quick to recognize that there is always something about every situation that they don't know. It is human arrogance and pride to begin to think that we see everything clearly. How many times have I summed a situation up quickly only to discover that I was wrong due to some bit of information that I had missed? I will judge the motives of people before I know all of the details involved only to find later that there was something about them I didn't know. That's why Proverbs admonishes us to "look carefully into a matter before acting". An old proverb reminds us to "walk a mile in another man's shoes before judging him''. The great danger with hidden truth is that "I don't know what I don't know". Wisdom to make great decisions begins by recognizing that the Bible tells the truth when it states that "our understanding is only partial", that I am not as smart as I think I might be! James encourages "If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God and it will be given him". The first step toward true wisdom is not to ask, it is to admit that I "lack wisdom".  That's why humility and wisdom are yoked together in God's Word. Jesus called His own to "judge with a correct judgement" or to see things from God's perspective. Lets humble ourselves and pray for Him to give us His insight into situations around us that we have to deal with. I see in scripture how Jesus had the wisdom to handle life's cares so well. He has promised me the same wisdom when I admit my limitations and trust Him for revelation from His Spirit.

Father, in our constant conflict we can't all be right. Truth be told you alone see everything clearly. I need your insight to live, lead and love. Thank you for the promise of wisdom from heaven!

Every command is a promise!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, December 17, 2018 @ 7:56 AM

"A new command I give you that you love one another as I have loved you."

John 13:34

The Bible which is God's guidebook and instruction manual for life has many commands in it designed to create the best life possible on a fallen broken planet. Do I need to tell you that we need to keep the commandments? Really? Most people know the commandments even if they don't keep them. What people don't know is that because our Father is a God of grace, the commandments He gives are actually promises and revelations of what He is going to do. Look at the command that Jesus gave all of us right before He left the earth that's found in John 13:34.  You may say "I'll keep it, I'll love people". Read it again. He didn't call us to love people. He called us to love people "as I have loved you". Try it. Loving as Jesus loved is absolutely impossible on a human level. The only way that I could love people the way that Jesus did would be for Him to work a miracle in my heart and put His love in me. Only then can I obey the command to love as he does. That's exactly what He plans to do. Romans 5:5 states that "the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit". That's what grace is. He commands me to do something that is beyond my ability, then He gives me the ability to do it. Faith on my part is to see His command and realizing that I can't do it step out and do it anyway trusting Him to work a miracle when I obey. American Christianity has become a watered down version of Bible faith that can be accomplished in human energy with a little self discipline. The faith life of the bible can only be lived by His power within. There are many commands in His Word, such as,  "Be worried for nothing". Because of grace, if He calls me to do it He will give me the power to pull it off! (I like the worry free life - pardon me if I want to obey Him here!) Guilt is banished and replaced by joy and anticipation when I begin to see His commands as promises of his power working through me! He is always calling His own to do things beyond human ability. When He commanded Simon to walk on water it was actually an invitation to experience a God sized miracle if he would obey and step out in faith! When He told a man with a withered hand to "stretch out your hand" it was either a cruel taunt of a handicapped man or it was a promise of a great miracle if he would obey. The man obeyed knowing he couldn't do it on his own and he was rewarded big time! From now on see His commands as promises of grace and instead of  feeling condemned by your inability jump on it declaring "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". By the way, I love you as Jesus does! Guess how?

Father, when I read your Word through the eyes of grace everything changes. Thank you for calling me to live beyond my ability in you great power! Ask me to do something so I can see you prove yourself mighty!        

Mercy first

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, December 13, 2018 @ 4:02 PM

"Blessed by God are the merciful for they will experience mercy."

Matthew 5:7

I am a man that needs mercy. My sins are many. My weaknesses are numerous. My needs surpass my ability. However, I like Noah have "found mercy in the eyes of the Lord"! I live in the constant celebration of His great mercy toward me! I wouldn't dare to depend on my rightousness to help me in any area. I live under the kindness and mercy of God! And I have discovered in His Word how to keep His mercy coming! I extend it to people. We always have a choice in dealing with people that we interact with whether it be family, co workers, friends, strangers or enemies to either extend mercy or judgement to them. We tend to lean as an old song says toward "mercy for me and judgement for you". We all want mercy from God and people, but we tend to look a little harsher at the mistakes and short comings of others. Doesn't work that way. You write your own ticket with the choices you make. The Bible says that "with the same judgement you use it shall be measured to you". I receive exactly what I dish out. I promise you that the last thing I want is what I deserve! I want mercy! James warns us that "judgement is without mercy to the one that shows no mercy". When I began to understand that in God's economy a man "reaps what he sows" I began to look for opportunities to sow mercy by the bushels into people that I deal with! I decided that it would always be "mercy first" with me. I will always choose to see the best in others, forgive before being asked, give the benefit of the doubt and give second chances to those needing them! I live life in the "place of grace" under the mercy of God! That's probably why I sleep so good and worry so little! Why would I stand before God and demand judgement on me by demanding judgement on you? Lets live in the mercy lane that runs both ways! (by the way, you don't owe me a thing! God bless you real good!)

Father, I am so grateful for the mercy we find with you in our Savior. You didn't have to punish Him so severely so you could be so good to me. I will pass on to people the same mercy you have poured out on me. 

When did He change?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 @ 2:59 PM

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

Hebrews 13:8

The Bible is a book about God. It is written by God. Penned by men but written by God. "Holy men wrote as they were instructed by the Holy Spirit of God". In His book he reveals Himself to us. What does He show us? That He is a God of compassion toward people in their needs and struggles. That He will intervene miraculously in their lives to help them. He is the God that delivered His people from bondage to abundance. He is the God that defended His people when they couldn't save themselves. He is the God that "places the lonely in a family". He is the God that miraculously provided for His people financially. He is the God that rejected the respectable religious of His day and chose the sinful to associate with. He is the God that showed mercy to those trapped in sin by changing them from the inside out. On and on you read on page after page of His willingness to intervene in the affairs of people to bring them to a place of "abundant life".  My question is, when did He change? When did He become the angry deity that wants to bring down wrath on sinners? When did He become the weak deity that offers only  "self help" to those struggling with the issues of life? When did He become the boring deity of religion that can't keep you awake for thirty minutes on Sunday mornings? I thought He created the heavens and the earth and all the beauty therein. When did He become the cold distant father that doesn't care about the well being of His own children? Truth be told He has not changed at all. Religion has changed Him to according to their feeble understanding. But, He is the same as He always has been. He is exactly who and what the Bible portrays Him to be. He is still the "friend of sinners", the "prince of peace" for troubled hearts, minds and families, the "bread of life" for those hungry for more than they have now, the one with "healing in His wings" for the broken, the "sword of the Lord" for those needing protection. Don't allow the culture or religion to reduce our great God to something less than He claims to be in His Word. He is everything He says He is. One of the names He gives Himself is "El Shaddai", meaning the "all sufficient one". What do you need? Go to Him knowing He will be to you and for you all you need in this life and the next.

I praise the God of Moses, David, Elijah, and Brian! Thank you that you have not changed one bit nor will you ever change! I praise you that you will be for me what you were for everyone in your Word!  

A time to move on

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 @ 1:52 PM

"How long will you mourn?"

1 Samuel 16:1

It had been unusually painful for Samuel to watch firsthand the failure of King Saul. They had been friends. Samuel had mentored him and encouraged him in his efforts to lead Isreal. Samuel had hoped for a lifelong brotherhood with him as they both gave their lives in service to their God and country. But it was not to be. The relationship was broken due to Saul's rebellion. The Bible said that Samuel wept all night long over the failed relationship. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a relationship destroyed that you loved dearly? Have you ever been trapped in a state of mourning over the loss of a friendship or family relationship? I don't know many people that haven't. It is a powerful heart hurt when walls are built and homes and alliances are ruined. However, our great Father will not allow the pain to lay on us forever. That's why he told Samuel that the time for mourning is over. He admonished him to "fill your horn with oil" which is Old Testament for allowing the healing power of the Holy Spirit to come in and begin the process of mending a broken heart. Then He commanded him to "go" and look to the next great thing that his Father had on the radar for him. What a powerful Word for us today who live in a "throwaway relationship" society. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't have to deal with division? If there were no relational pain in our lives? But, that's not to be in a fallen world with imperfect people. So what do we do? Live out our lives in pain from the past? No. The Bible says there comes a time to choose to mourn no more. To stop looking back. To allow Him to heal the hurt and pick up the pieces and move on. Our great God always has a "next thing" for His children. Its time to head toward His "next thing". Its a simple law of physics that you can't go forward looking backward. I have learned a great truth in 35 years of ministry and that is that satan will use your past to destroy your future. Don't allow it. Obey your Father and commit the past to Him allowing Him to turn you toward a new future. I love the admonition found in Philippians 3:13 that calls us to "forget those things that are past and reach forward to those things that are ahead". What can't be changed in the past is history. Close the book and begin a new chapter ''looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith".

 Father, I praise you that though I am an imperfect person living in an imperfect world you have a perfect plan for me that always has a "new thing" waiting. I ask for grace to get up and go on to what lies ahead. I trust you to turn my disappointments into you Divine appointments!  

God's tattoo?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 @ 1:52 PM

"See, I have tattooed you on the palms of my hands."

Isaiah 49:16

I have always loved this verse and passage dearly! Tattoos have become the rage in the last few years especially among younger people. When I was a boy (before electricity) only sailors or carnival workers wore tats. However, they have recently come on the scene as the latest form of self expression. The only problem with permanent tattoos is that they are permanent! You had better really like something that you are going to sport until the grave! That's what's so great about God's tattoo! In this passage we find God's people doing what we all do on occasion. Due to some very difficult circumstances they were beginning to question  His love and care for them. If God cares about me why is this happening? They had reached a point that they said in verse 14 "the Lord has forsaken me, He has forgotten me". He responds to their pain in verse 15 with what I believe is one of the most tender verses in the Bible when He asks "can a mother forget her child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb"? How many of you could forget that you ever had a child? The Father continues, "they might forget" (as unthinkable as that is) "but I will not forget you". What a Word from heaven! Your mother will forget that she ever birthed you before I will forsake you. And then to nail down His heart toward us He adds "see, I have tattooed you on the palms of my hands". The God of heaven rolls up His sleeve and says "look, I had your picture permanently tattooed on my arm because I love you so much"! What a thought! I have seen several instances where young moms will tattoo something about a child on themselves. I've seen a child's birth date tattooed on girl's arms. I've seen their kid's names inked on. I recently saw one where the imprint of her child's feet at birth was tattooed on her back. (don't ask how I found it)  A mother's love is a powerful thing! What is the Creator of the universe saying when He tattoos my name or picture on His nail pierced hand? Many things, but most of all that His love is permanent. I suggested to my  sweetheart that I might have her name tattooed on my arm. She said that since it is forever attached we might ought to hold off for a while and see how things go! But, my Savior has already made the permanent commitment! The next time you see Him ask Him if He will show you His tattoo!

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that your love and care are forever settled toward us. Thank you that "nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord"!  

One decision changes everything.

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 @ 1:51 PM

"Take my yoke upon you."

Matthew 11:29

The Bible does not promise a life of ease for those who follow Jesus. To the contrary, it promises a life of trials just as all of humanity faces. However, the scripture reveals a life of internal peace in the midst of stressful situations, divine wisdom in the midst of hard questions and decisions, joy in the midst of cultural misery and believe it or not an "easy yoke" in the midst of the most stressful days in history. It truly is a supernatural life explained only by the Biblical mystery known as "Christ in you the hope of glory". This life follows one big decision. Not a decision to accept Christ as your Savior. Choosing to accept His gift of eternal life will change your destiny. It will not change your life. You can be saved and still be as messed up and miserable as the town pagan. Its revealed in Matthew 11 where Jesus spoke to people that were "laboring and heavy laden". Early language for struggling and stressed out. He implored them to "take my yoke" promising them that if they so chose they would find a life of emotional healing, rest and a life that was easy with a light burden. The yoke of which He spoke was a double yoke used for oxen when they would be coupled together to plow or haul a cart. The picture is obvious is it not? If I will submit (there's that word) my entire life to the will, leadership and control to the "big ox" which is Jesus by His Spirit I will find the restored life He promised. I never have to struggle over making a right decision again. I've already decided that He makes them all. All I have to do is look up His will in His Word and presto! There's my decision! What's not covered in His Word I'll pray about and He will show me what He wants. I will never be offended or upset again because "great peace have they that love thy control and nothing will offend them".  If someone stabs me I assume He wanted it since He is in total control and can do whatever He pleases. Doesn't even have to check with me. How can there be stress in the "surrendered life" since "I am crucified with Christ" now? I've never seen a deceased man in a casket at the funeral home stressed out. Or upset. Or worried about the future. Or complaining. Or demanding his own way. Or angry. Or holding a grudge. All I've ever heard at the funeral home is people talking about "how peaceful he looks". The "crucified life" is where I die to self and abandon every right and decision to Christ. He becomes Lord of all. Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Don't let that thing about giving up your rights hang you up. Look what its done for you so far!  Take His "yoke" on you. You'll be glad you did! (so will I!)

Father, I sigh over all my rights to the precious Holy Spirit of Jesus. Thank you for the great peace, joy, healing and rest that follow the "exchanged life"!

Believers believe!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, December 6, 2018 @ 9:40 AM

"Then Mary said, "let it be unto me according to your promise."

Luke 1:38

Believers believe. That's why we are called believers. In the faith of the Bible the most important thing you will ever do is believe. You will spend eternity where you do not because of what you did or did not do, but because of what you believe. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Acts 16:31 It is believing that pleases the Father. "Without faith it is impossible to please God". Hebrews 11:6 Your life is what it is not because of how smart you are, how wealthy you are, or how lucky you are, but because of what you believe. "Be it unto you according to your faith". Matthew 9:28 The Bible declares that nothing is out of reach to those who can believe. "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes". Mark 9:23 Why did God Almighty put this in His Word if it is not true? If He didn't want me to read it and believe it why is it in the Book? We see a classic example of two hearts in Luke 1 where we find an angel promising an old prophet a son. The promise seemed beyond belief due to the man's age. He chose not to believe the Word because of its apparent impossibility. This attitude brought a strong rebuke from the angel because of his unbelief. Immediately after this encounter the same angel visits a young teenage girl named Mary with the promise of son. Her response was different from the prophet's. Even though her promise was just as impossible in the natural she chose to take God at His Word and believe what He said. "Be it unto me according to your word'. She was blessed greatly because she believed. Just like the prophet and the young girl you have been given promises by the God of heaven. Not relayed by angels but written in His Word. What are you going to do with the promises He has made to you? Will you be like the old preacher and reject them because human logic laughs at them? Or will you follow the heart of Mary and although your mind struggles with the possibility, you choose to believe Him any way? Listen to me; it is not hard to believe. Its a choice. Find His great promises. Ignore your feelings, intellectual doubt, unworthiness and believe. The man tells the truth and He can not lie.

Father, I praise you for your "great and precious promises" that offer us everything our hearts ever longed for. I choose to be a believer. I believe what you say because you can not lie. I offer the prayer of the father in Mark 9 "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief".

God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, December 6, 2018 @ 9:39 AM

"If you have to have everything perfect before you can accomplish something you will never do anything."

Ecc. 11 (par)

Moses was an eighty year old convict that stuttered. Joseph was a pampered child. David struggled with some terrible personal demons. Jacob was a con man. Simon was an "ignorant uneducated" redneck fisherman. Their commonality? God chose to use each one of them to help people and accomplish great things. The Bible teaches that our great Father specializes in choosing and using the "less than perfect" to do big things. He actually seems to prefer the imperfect. How often do we shrink back from attempting something because we don't think we are ready, good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. As the Bible warns us in Ecclesiastes, if you wait until everything is perfect you will be sitting until Jesus gets back! What a great mystery that a perfect God chooses to co-labor with such imperfect people. The obvious reason that he "chooses the foolish, weak, common, and rejected" is, as He declared in 1 Corinthians 1, that "no flesh would glory in His presence". When He enables the struggling to bless people He receives all the glory. So quit waiting until everything is just right to get going. "Agree with your enemy" when he says you aren't ready, you don't know what you're doing, you're not good enough, etc. Declare "I serve a great God that makes up where I fall short and He and I are a team"!  I'm not going to let the fact that I'm not perfect, I don't have what it takes, what I have could be better, or any other excuse stop me from swinging for the fence! I serve a great God that specializes in hitting a straight lick with a crooked stick!

Father, I confess that what I have to offer you sometimes looks as foolish as the little boy that offered you his happy meal to feed five thousand people. But, God be praised that just as you took that pitiful offering and fed that crowd I believe that you will take what I have and do the same for somebody!

Created to succeed

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 @ 11:21 AM

"Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God planned beforehand that we should live them out."

Ephesians 2:10

You can not believe the Bible which teaches that we were created by God and accept modern evolutionary teaching which argues that we are the random product of biological chance apart from a creator. We believe that we are born of Divine design. If we believe that we are His creation the next obvious question is "why"? No logical mind would conclude that someone creates something without a distinct purpose. So it is with our heavenly Father. He created us for a specific purpose. My lifelong task therefore becomes the discovery of my created purpose. Each one of us was created with a unique purpose or destiny by Him. No two are alike. However, there is one thing we all share commonly and that is the truth that He created us to succeed. One of the great misconceptions of much of Christian teaching is that it doesn't matter if we do well in this life since this life is just a precursor to the one to come.  The Bible disagrees in many places. Our Father destined us to succeed at "whatever you put your hand to". His desire is that we "would prosper in the land that the Lord your God has placed you in". It matters not whether you are a national leader, a powerful business broker or a stay at home mother that is pouring your life into three children. His desire is for us to excel at our endeavors. He designed the human heart to delight in success. "A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul".  There will be a contradiction of definitions of success between His kingdom and this modern culture. His standard of success always involves serving people and making the world a better place because you passed through. However, it is His heart for His children to do well at their assigned endeavors. Is that not the heart of every good parent? Who has children hoping that they will fail and be a detriment to society? No, we have children trusting that they will prosper and be a great blessing to people in their circle. The Bible even goes as far as to prescribe that eternal rewards are based on earthly accomplishments in the service of our fellow travelers. Whatever you do, whether its preaching, driving, teaching, mopping, selling or singing, "do all for the glory of God" and "whatever your hand finds to do do it with all your might", "that you might find good success and prosper in all that you put your hand to". You were created to succeed!

 Thank you Father for creating me with a specific purpose. Help me find my place in your plans. And then I ask that you would "bless the works of my hands" for your glory and the well being of people around me.

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