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.

To go high, go low

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, December 20, 2018 @ 9:19 AM

"They bowed down and worshipped Him."

Matthew 2:11

Scripture tells us that when the wise men found the baby Jesus that they bowed before Him. To bow is a physical revelation of a heart posture of humility. It is to acknowledge submission before someone. It is the universal symbol of need. Through out the Bible we find a theme present that "God wars against the proud but gives grace to the humble". All through His Word and human history we see that our heart attitude before Him determines how He will deal with us. The proud, self sufficient, cocky, independent person is always turned away by Him. But, the one willing to confess his weakness, need, and dependence upon the Creator of the universe always finds mercy and kindness from Him. Even the two thieves on the cross on each side of Jesus (which are a picture of every person born) experienced different destinies due to their attitudes that day. Neither was worthy of mercy. Who is? However, after one demanded help with an arrogant attitude, which he didn't receive, the other humbled himself and asked for grace with bowed head. Jesus responded to his abasement with the words, "today you will be with Me in Paradise". Does it bother you that Christ would allow a criminal who never darkened the door of a church, gave a dime to help someone, was a menace to society to enter into Heaven? Its called grace. It is the unearned kindness of God given to people who know they haven't earned anything but ask Him for mercy anyway. If there is one life lesson that the Bible teaches it is that humility is the path to blessing. That the way up is down. "Have this heart in you that was in Christ, who didn't demand to be treated like God but humbled Himself and served people." If you want the Ruler of the universe to war against you, consider yourself great in your own eyes. If you want to find His kindness toward you humble yourself and bow before Him as a desperately needy man. "Everyone (guess what the greek word for everyone means?) who raises himself up will be brought down by God, and everyone (guess what the greek word for everyone means!) who humbles himself before Him will be raised up by Him. Oh, come let us adore Him!

Father, I praise you as did the mother of Jesus who prayed, "He who is mighty has done great things for me, He has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly"!

The curse of contentment

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 @ 9:20 AM

"And Moses was content to live there."

Exodus 2:21

He had been destined by God for greatness. He was born a deliverer. However, as happens often, his mistakes had cost him his future. He gave up on his dream of helping people and being used of God to make a big difference in this world for good. He settled for much less than what he could have accomplished. The Bible records that Moses after committing murder and becoming a fugitive from justice settled down in a foreign land and was content to just earn a living working for his father in law as a cowboy. (a shepherd is a cowboy with a different animal) Fortunately for two million Israelites that were slaves to Pharaoh God wouldn't allow Moses to "settle" short of His best plan for him. Moses was "content" to settle for less. Contentment is the enemy of accomplishment. Every great breakthrough in history was birthed in discontentment. The civil rights movement began when people became fed up with "the way things are". They wanted better. American ingenuity that spawned the greatest nation on earth was birthed by people that wanted more than they had. Heck, we would still be cooking over fire if somebody hadn't become discontent and dreamed of something better! Discontentment is God's tool to propel us to reach for His best for us. Every recovering addict had to reach a place of utter discontentment and decide "I'll pay the price to have better that this". What about you? Like Moses, are you content with things the way they are? Are you content with your personal life? Your family life? Your vocation? The contribution you are making to this world? Don't ever apologize for being dissatisfied and wanting more. Don't ever apologize for wanting all that Jesus died on a cross to give you. There is nothing wrong with enjoying where you are in life right now. There is something terribly wrong with staying where you are right now. Just as He came to Moses in the wilderness (are you there?) and ignited in him a desire to accomplish his destiny and be who God created him to be and accomplish all that God created him to accomplish, why don't you ask Him to deliver you from the cancer of contentment with less than His best for you and your family and stir a "holy discontentment" that will cause you like Moses to choose to pay the price to seek more?

Father, I don't want the "just getting by" life that so many have embraced. Something in my heart tells me there is more than this in your great plan for me and my family. Stir your Spirit in me to pursue the big dreams that you planted in me long ago. 

Survive or thrive?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 @ 11:15 AM

"I have come that they might barely get by."

It ain't there!

As the station manager looked up the tracks he saw a strange sight approaching him. It was a man walking on the track carrying a heavy suitcase in each hand looking completely worn out. As the weary traveler reached the landing dock he dropped his bags on the platform and plopped down just a huffing and a puffing! When the manager approached him he reached into his pocket and pulled out a ticket declaring that he had a right to travel on the track because he had a ticket as he showed it to the inquiring agent. The agent looked at the man in astonishment telling him that the ticket was indeed good but that there was something he was missing. By holding that ticket he was entitled to ride and not walk. He could have placed his baggage in the baggage car and ridden in style in the pullman. If he had gotten hungry he could have gone to the dining car and eaten for free. He could have been been enjoying the trip in comfort instead of struggling down the track carrying his heavy load! (can't you see what's coming?!) Jesus stated in His Word that He didn't come so that we could barely get by! Just survive until His return! He said that he came that we "might have life and have it more abundantly"! Our "sin bearer" is also our "burden bearer"! "Come unto me all you who are heavy loaded and I will give you rest"! What a joy to "cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us"! I can unload my "baggage" from the past to carry it no more! And since He "prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies" I can dine in style with Him any time! Since He is the "Bread of life", if I get hungry for more I can ask Him to pass me the Bread! And the cost of my ticket? I could never afford to pay it myself. Jesus purchased it for me before I was born when He stated from the cross "it is finished". "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe"! Walk through life carrying a heavy load if you want to, but I have decided to ride in style on the "Heavenly express"! Why don't you come on and join me cause "this train is bound for Glory"!

Dear Jesus, I praise you that you not only saved me from hell but you also became my everything for all time! Thank you for an "easy load and a light yoke"!   

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"!

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