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.

A fire must be fed

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 @ 9:17 AM

"Kindle the Gift that is within you."

2 Timothy 1:6

When Katie and I were newlyweds we moved into an old farm house that had no heat except for the wood stove in the "sitting room". That wood stove was a lot like marriage. When it was hot it was wonderful, but when it went cold it was miserable! I would get up early and rekindle the stove after it had died down during the night. When I had it good and warm she would jump up and race to the stove to warm up. The stove did a great job of heating, but you had to constantly feed it to enjoy the heat. That is the exact picture that the Bible paints of the Gift of the Holy Spirit that is within every believer. The Spirit of God within is given to us by our Father to provide the power we need to love like He loves, be at peace, be patient and kind to people, and enjoy the life He freely gives to His own. Only His Spirit within can live the Christ life through us. It is not me "trying" to be a Christian. It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" Colossians 1:27 However, the Bible tells us that we are responsible to "stir up" the Gift. Just as I would put wood on the coals and set the draft to cause the wood to burn I must ignite the Spirit in me afresh constantly to enjoy His presence. When I worship Christ from the heart, meditate on His promises as I spend time with Him, and pour my heart out to Him in prayer I can sense the Spirit within rising up to full flame. Neglect a fire and it dies over time. You lose the power and presence of His Spirit not by grave error but by neglecting to "stir Him up" regularly. Why does Scripture admonish me "Do not neglect the Gift that is within you"? 1 Timothy 4:14 I want to be like Katie's grandpa who kept his wood stove red hot at all times by socking the wood to it constantly! I want to live keeping the Spirit constantly ablaze within by "stirring Him up" through heart worship, His Word and fervent prayer! If you need His power in life quit wishing and asking and start "stirring"!

Thank you so much for the mighty Holy Spirit within! The very same Spirit that was in Jesus! Teach me how to "stir Him up" within my heart. I want the Fire of your Spirit to be the power that carries me in life!

We glorify what we enjoy

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

1 Corinthians 10:31

Lake Okeechobee in Florida is the "Mecca" of bass fishing in America. Shaped like a giant bowl, its forty miles across and never gets any deeper than ten feet. It has all the necessary elements to create the perfect lake to grow huge bass in abundance. What a fisherman works all year to catch in other lakes can usually be caught on any given day at the "Big O". After years of dreaming I finally went on my "piscatorial pilgrimage" last winter! I had a blast! I caught whopper bass everyday. Before I left I was checking to see if some local church needed redneck preacher! Ask me if I had to be prodded to tell my fishing buddies (or anybody else that happened to get stuck with me) how wonderful it was? Did I need a class on "how to talk effectively about bass fishing"? How foolish! It was the most natural thing in the world to brag on how great fishing the "Big O" is. I enjoyed it so much that I had to tell it! One of the laws of human nature: we glorify what we enjoy. If my life goal is to glorify God then the way I do that is to enjoy Him. I don't have to be taught how to brag on Jesus. I need to experience His goodness. The bragging (glorifying) comes as a result of enjoying Him. When I discover His greatness and see His power and kindness its natural to worship and glorify Him! As an old song declares "When through the woods and forest glade I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook or feel the gentle breeze; then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art!".

Father, if you will show me your glory and goodness I will glorify you for what I see. Let me experience you so I will have something to tell!

Finding Purpose

Posted by Brandon Patton on Friday, November 2, 2018 @ 10:24 AM

All things were created by Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:16

Contentment and fulfillment in life come only when we find our created purpose and live to fulfill that purpose. Only your Creator can show you why you were created. Make sense? Your Creator reveals your purpose in His book. (Its the all time best seller in world history) What He reveals is actually very simple. We were created for His glory. There it is. All of it. Until we begin to live for His glory there will always be a void on the inside that won't go away no matter what we accomplish or accumulate. Why are so many people that have so much still so discontent at heart level? Mick Jagger is a multi-millionaire, famous world wide, and has indulged in every known act of fleshly pleasure and still "can't get no satisfaction"! He tried and he tried and he tried! All the money, fame, and pleasure in the world can't bring lasting happiness and satisfaction to the human soul. Only finding and living out your created purpose brings true inner contentment. Until you live to bring glory to Christ (make Him famous in the earth) something will be missing inside. The Westminster catechism declares "The chief aim of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever". Spot on! I was created to glorify my Creator! And the best way to do that is also in this short creed. It is human nature. What we enjoy we glorify. A grandma that enjoys her grandchildren does not need to take a course in "how to brag on grandchildren". Just turn her loose! She will brag on what she adores. She will "glorify" her grandchildren because they have captured her heart whether I want to hear it or not!  When I experience the goodness of my Creator and Father it is natural to live to bring Him glory. That is the place that my heart finds its true joy.

Father, I choose to believe you over the scientist that tells me that I am a biological by-product with no created purpose. I praise you that I was created for your glory! Thank you for the opportunity to live to make your Son famous in the earth!

I don't understand

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 @ 10:57 AM

We are perplexed but not in despair.

2 Corinthians 4:7

In this upside down world we live in there are many things that I don't understand. I don't understand why people act like they do. Why people don't worship the Creator of all beauty. Why children suffer from disease, Why women are mistreated. Why people of differing races hate each other. Why ice cream (the greatest invention in human history) makes me gain weight. Why fish don't bite. Why we have to die. Why I am tempted to do things that I really don't want to do. The list is endless. That's called being "perplexed". Its when we have no explanation for the mysteries of life that plague us all. The great apostle said that he was "perplexed". The Bible says that "our understanding is very limited" in 1 Corinthians 13:12. However, in the same verse that he confessed his perplexity, he also declared that he was not in despair! That is because although there may be some things that I don't know, there are some things that I know right well! There is a God who rules for all of eternity who will have the last word on every human issue! He "knows my name"! He loves me with an everlasting love! He knows "the number of hairs on my head"! He has promised "I will never leave you or forsake you"! "If God be for us who can be against us! " My prayers are "His delight"! He is causing "all things to work together for good"! "Though I fall seven times the Lord will sustain me"! "If I confess my sins He is faithful and just to forgive me"! "Nothing can separate us from the love of God"! His Word is "eternal truth that will never pass away"! "Even if my father and mother forsake me the Lord will care for me"! On and on I could go about the things that I certainly do know! There is nothing wrong with being "perplexed" today. There is something terribly wrong with being in despair! The secret to life today on this crazy planet is to be able to "rejoice in the middle of perplexity". Its called "faith"!

Father, I have never understood my world less than I do now. That's why I have never been more thankful for your "great and precious promises than I am today! I ask for your help to "trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding". Thank you that your promises will always exceed my problems!


Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 @ 10:18 AM

No one puts new wine into old wineskins, but new wine must be put into new wineskins.

Mark 2:22

Albert Einstein is the man that said "to do the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity". Actually Jesus said it first two thousand years ago, but with different wording. I don't know many people that don't want to see some kind of change in their lives or families. Whether it be reconciliation, a better future, peace, freedom form some form of addiction, or losing weight, we all want change. Wishing is wasted time, because wishing never changed anything. Settling is stupid, because life is to short to settle for less than God's best and live lives of resigned frustration. The problem is not in the desire, its in the approach. The question is are we willing to pay the price to enjoy what we long for? Most change comes at the point of desperation. Only when we hurt so bad, become so miserable, or are at the end of our rope will we pay the price for change. This is where our loving Father comes into the picture! As King David found out after he had sinned so greatly and lost the blessing and touch of God on his life, after he had resigned himself to a life of emptiness far below what he had enjoyed at one time, he found that God was working in his life to bring him to the point of desperation that would be necessary in his life for him to make the change that could restore him to his former greatness. "Day and night your hand was heavy on me and my strength was turned into summer drought." The Bible teaches that it is God who orchestrates the affairs of our lives to bring us to the place where we will make the necessary changes to experience "abundant life". Great news isn't it! God is creating a mess in my life and making me miserable to bring me to the point of desperation so I will change to be blessed! We hate the word : change. However, I know of no way for new to come except by "changing" wineskins". Lets all say it together : change! Do not settle!

Father I want the "new wine". I want some things to be better. But, I confess that I hate the price tag. Bring me to the place that I would be willing to do whatever is needed, no matter how painful it is, to experience your best plan.

There's a time to say it

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 @ 11:53 AM

Therefore I urge you to tell him how much you love him.

2 Corinthians 2:8

As I got up to leave after visiting with a dear friend that I had known for thirty five years I noticed that he wasn't able to stand even though he wanted to. Although his mind was as sharp as a tack and his great sense of humor was not diminished at all, disease had rendered his body mostly unresponsive. As I reached out and took his hand I told him "I love you and am praying for you". He responded "I love you to, you know you were always like one of my own boys to me". It warmed my heart to hear it and as I left I wondered why we don't say it to each other more often? Are we too busy? Is it considered "not manly" in our culture? Do we just not care anymore? Do we think people don't need to hear it? Won't mean anything to them? It would be the last thing I would ever say to him. A few days later his son called me to tell me that dad had passed away suddenly in the night. As sad as I was at his passing I was so thankful that I got that last "I love you" in. The Bible admonishes us to "love one another" in many verses. Truth is that "loving one another" is the most important thing we do as believers one to another. But the same Bible that tells us to "love one another" also tells us to "say it to each other". Why do I have to say it? Isn't it enough to just "do it"? Won't they know by the way I treat them? Our Father has a reason for calling us to not only "do it" but to also "say it". When I genuinely tell someone that I love them It has an effect on them. It touches and encourages the heart. It dispels any "darkness" that may be there. It endears them to me and it leaves a memory that is sweet and powerful. It also has an effect on me. Something happens when we do as Christ did who not only loved us but "demonstrated His love for us". Another friend who was a POW in WW2 told me about how hard it was for him to lose his wife. But, he said, there's one thing I'm thankful for; the last thing she ever heard me say was "I love you honey". Lets find the great blessing that's in it for us and other people by "telling them that you love them". Don't miss a chance.

Thank you Jesus for loving me just as I am. Thank you for saying it in a thousand ways. I ask you for grace to make sure that the people around me know that I love them.

Tough times don't last, tough people do!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 @ 11:53 AM

Weeping lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning!

Psalm 30:5

We are living in what can only be described as tough days. I don't know many people that aren't experiencing some difficult things in life except Jimmy Buffet. However, in the midst of all of our battles we have the promise that all tough circumstances share one thing in common - they are temporary! I my sixty plus years of life I can testify that all of my struggles eventually came to an end. Therefore, the determining factor of success in life has not much to do with how smart you are, how pretty you are, how wealthy you are or how or how well educated you are. It just boils down to how tough you are! I have always admired the boxer "Rocky" as the poster boy for what can happen in life with a good dose of "I ain't givin up"! The Bible has its own "Rocky" in it, his name is Jacob. In Genesis Jacob is found wrestling with the angel of God.The angel commanded him to "release me as the daylight is approaching". Jacob replied "I will not release you until you bless me". The angel responded "because you have wrestled with God and prevailed I will bless you". And he was blessed beyond measure! Why would our great God put this in His Word for us to read and learn from? What do I get as a life lesson from this passage? Come on man, Ray Charles could see this! Although Jacob was not an unusually gifted man, or an unusually good man (his nickname was "deceiver", he was a very tenacious man. He refused to give up when the going got tough. This Word tells me that the God of heaven is looking for someone that wants to succeed so much at family, friendship, faith, ministry, life that they will absolutely refuse to lay down when the road gets hard! Hebrews states "you have need of endurance that after you have followed the will of God you may receive the promise". Endurance! A loser is a winner that gave up just short of victory. A winner is a loser that would not quit!

Dear Jesus, you "endured the cross" to receive the prize. I pray for endurance to refuse to quit until I see what you have promised. Please replace my "wiggly worm" spine with a crow bar! All for your eternal glory!

Where the mind goes the man follows

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, October 25, 2018 @ 8:40 AM

"The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace"

Romans 8:6

Being saved will not bring you into a great life. It will bring you to a great eternity! The abundant life that Jesus promised does not come from being His child, it only comes through what He calls a "renewed mind" or a change in the way we think. Romans 12:1-2 I know many believers that live miserable lives of discouragement, bitterness, self pity and frustration. It is not that they aren't children of God, rather its because of their undisciplined thinking. Jesus died for me to enjoy a life of peace, joy, hope, laughter and faith. He made it possible, but He can not think for me. Every moment I have the free will to chose my thoughts. If I choose to "set my mind on the things of the Spirit" such as His love for me, His promise of victory, hope, His blessings on my life, the beauty of God all around me etc. I will be full of life (hope, joy, expectation) and peace (worry free and free to enjoy this blessed day). If I choose to dwell on my problems, failures, the garbage around me in society, the difficulties that face me my mind will be full of "death" (anxiety, emptiness, fear, anger, frustration and discouragement). Its that simple. Really. My quality of life rises and falls on my thought life. "Where the mind goes the man follows". Due to the negative factors in society right now, the negative people in my face right now and the activity of dark powers that attack the mind right now it requires a certain amount of discipline to avoid "stinking thinking"! Command your mind to turn away from the garbage and focus on the "beautiful, inspiring, encouraging, excellent". Philippians 4:8 Make your mind come up higher instead of letting it wallow in the mud like a lazy hog!

Thank you Father for making abundant life available! Thank you for a free will to choose in this life. I choose to think "God" thoughts instead of garbage thoughts!

Live to give!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 @ 10:44 AM

Give and it shall be given unto you.

Luke 6:38

There are two famous seas in Israel. The sea of Galilee is alive and fresh, providing drinking water and fish for the people of that land. The dead sea is useless. Its water is undrinkable and it is too foul for any marine life to exist. Why the difference? The sea of Galilee is constantly giving. It pours itself into the Jordan river, providing for the needs of the people around it. The dead sea constantly takes in (even from the sea of Galilee by way of the Jordan) but it never gives anything out. Not one tributary flows out of it. Can you see it? What a picture of the upside down Biblical truth about life found in Proverbs 11:24-25. "There is one who gives and it increases more; then there is one who gives nothing, and it leads to poverty. He who waters will be watered himself." The self centered "its all about me" life leads to misery and emptiness. A person who's mind is always on them and their desires will be as dead as the Dead sea. But, the soul that follows the example of Jesus and "lives to give" to others will be full of life! The one verse that captures the life of Jesus states that "He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil".  Makes no sense does it? However, the simple reality is that if you "give freely" then "freely you will receive". Think about all the people you know. Are not the "givers" the "livers"? Do you want to live? Give!

Dear Jesus, please deliver me from the dread disease of self focus. Thank you for giving me the simple key to life as you promised you would. Thank you for giving so selflessly so I could live! I'm gonna pass it on!

He is coming back!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 @ 11:25 AM

Behold He is coming in the clouds and every eye shall behold Him!

Revelation 1:7

With all of our attention focused on making it through the nasty here and now with all of its hurdles we often forget that the major theme of the New Testament is the second coming of Jesus Christ to this earth! The return of Jesus to the earth He created is the most often mentioned thing in the Bible. 270 times in the New Testament His return is referenced. This life we currently entertain is not the big deal. This life is called the "engagement" in scripture. His return is called "the marriage supper of the Lamb" in the book of Revelation. Who wants to be engaged more than they want to be married? The only great thing about being engaged is that you will be married soon! I have never understood the saints fascination with this life. Why do we cling to this life as though it were what we were created for? We were created for eternity. We were created "by Him and for Him". I've never understood why believers spend so much time praying for saints to be kept out of heaven rather than praying for sinners to be rescued from hell. Often Christians are mocked for looking ahead to Heaven. Why not?! The Bible calls His return "our blessed hope"! As Philippians states "to depart and be with Christ is far better!" I'm certainly not one of those "just a few more weary days and I'll fly away" types. I'm having a blast walking with Jesus today. But to think of the "glory that shall be ours when Christ returns" is pure joy unspeakable! Why do believers fret as much as pagans over the condition of this current world? Did not the scripture describe these days two thousand years ago in perfect detail? The Bible says "This world and all the works in it will be burned up with intense heat". I knew about global warming before the scientists did! Rather than moan about conditions today which were predicted accurately years ago in scripture why don't we do what the Bible said to do "when you see these things come to pass lift up your heads and rejoice knowing that your redemption draws near!" If the second coming of Jesus is a settled fact, rather than focusing on "save the whales" or "save the snails" why don't we live to save the males? (and the girls!) If His return is imminent what else matters except whether you will go with Him or be left behind? Lift up your heads beloved of the Lamb! Soon and very soon we are going to see the King! (I'll be the one at the gate hollering "I told you so!")

Thank you Father that as your Word states you "have placed eternity in their hearts"! The desire to live forever is from you. I praise you that in Christ that desire is fulfilled! I can hardly wait to see Him "coming in the clouds"! How about today?!

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