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 office@thelambschapel.org and tell us you would like to receive First Light.

Pitiful or powerful?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:52 PM

"Forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are ahead!"

Philippians 4:13

I've never met a person that doesn't have something that could handicap them. Not one. Many have been wounded by injustice on the part of another. Perhaps a parent. Maybe by a mate. Or a trusted friend. The wounds are real and painful. They leave scars that run deep. There are others that believe they have been short changed in life. They didn't have a chance to get an education that allows them a certain opportunity. They don't have the natural talents or abilities that others do. They weren't born into a "silver spoon" family. They never got the breaks that others did. Maybe its a debilitating health issue. No matter what the roadblock to your desired future is you have to come to grips with the eternal truth that life is not fair. Never has been, never will be until Jesus returns to earth to rule.  You can do one of two things. You can choose to be pitiful, or you can choose to be powerful. But, you will never be both. Did you notice the word "choose" in there? Self pity is a crippling state of mind and heart that will rob you of your great God given destiny. He can't help anyone that chooses (there's that word again) to lie down in a bed of pity. I'm convinced after hearing hundred of life stories through the years that self pity is Satan's masterpiece to steal our future. If he can play on our emotions by reviewing our unfortunate circumstances he can bury us in our past. I don't care what has happened or what you lack that others have, our great God is the God of restoration! Moses was a felon that stuttered. David was a nobody that had a father that told him he would never amount to anything. Simon was "ignorant (how would you like for God to call you that in His Word!) and uneducated. Yet all of these and many others testify that if you will choose (there's that word) to refuse to give in to self pity and  look up and trust Him with the future you will find that He will not let your past or your limitations  define your future. I don't care what I lack that others have, or what has happened that was not fair, I have a Father that will make up the difference! I stubbornly refuse to live looking in the rear view mirror! If God be for us, who can be against us!

Father , forgive my self pity and give me grace to stop looking back at the past, down at my limitations, around at others blessings and strengths and start looking up to you. Your smile on me is my game changer! 

Living on purpose

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:52 PM

"A lazy man wishes and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich."

Proverbs 13:4

Its that wonderful time of the year! I'm not talking about ringing in a new year with hope and expectation. I'm referring to those magnificent resolutions that show up every year in late December! "I'm going to lose weight!" "I'm going to spend more time with my kids." "I'm going to learn how to play the guitar this year." On and on they go! And go! Out the window! Why is it that our resolutions, be they for a new year or any other time of the year, seldom bear fruit? Is it that people are liars and never intended to fulfill their promises? I don't think so. The answer is found in the Bible (as are all of the answers to life). The truth is that desires without plans never come to pass. No matter how much you want or need to achieve something, you will never reach the goal without a workable plan. The Bible admonishes us to "number our days and apply our hearts to wisdom". Make a plan that is verifiable and stick to it. Great lives don't just happen! Great piano players didn't wish themselves great. Great athletes didn't wish themselves capable. Great marriages don't just show up one day. Everything starts with desire. What one thing would you love to see happen in your future? Identify it. Then, once you have found the "what" its imperative that you start on the "how". Detail a plan that will enable you to reach a big goal realistically. "Write the vision, make it plain". It must be on paper. Otherwise you can't go back and measure progress on a regular basis. Then in practical steps begin to walk out your vision one day at a time. Be passionate about accomplishing it or you will toss it in the trash bin along with all the other "I wished but couldn't stick with its" from days past. Take out that paper and review regularly how you are doing with your dream. Add notes along the way. You will find another great Proverb coming to pass for you, "a desire accomplished is sweet to the soul"! You will live one of two ways. Either you will let life carry you wherever it wants to and see where you end up or, you will determine where you will go. One is easy but not very good. One is much harder but very rewarding! Don't waste the one precious life you have been given. Live on purpose!   

Father, this life is too valuable to be left to chance. Encourage me to reach for the big things that you have planned for your children. Every one of them!  

The thrill is gone!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:52 PM

"The pleasures of sin for a season."

Hebrews 11:25

Tis the day after Christmas and all through through our pad the garbage is strowed and man am I mad! The kids left a mess and went out to play, and I'm stuck inside cleaning away! The fun is all over and Santa's gone away, and it's gonna be hell when the bills come my way! Sorry about singing this sad "after Christmas" song, but for all that I spent the party sure didn't last long! Such is the dilemma of everything that this fallen world has to offer. No matter how big the hype, how much the thrill, how extravagant the production it always lead to a let down when its over. The day after Christmas is always one of my biggest "praise days" of the year! While this temporary world is cleaning up after its temporary party getting ready for its next temporary thrill I am rejoicing that the eternal quality of life that Jesus has given me is - eternal! Only in Christ is anything for ever! No matter what you have if its not rooted in God's kingdom it is short term at best. A great marriage is only for a few years. Mine is eternal! (if she agrees!) A great family is only for a brief period. Mine is "so shall we ever be with the Lord"! Dear friends are soon separated. The one's that I have in Him will still be mine ten thousand years from now! Moses was a smart man to give up on "the temporary pleasures" to lay hold of something that would last forever. A great missionary once said that "he is no fool who gives up what he could never keep to lay hold of what he can never lose". Amen! So while our land is suffering from "post holiday blues" lets rejoice that our celebration never ends because we are wed to a King who's "Kingdom will know no end"! In the little community of Sophia where we used to live stood a small country store called "Audie's". In front was a sign that read, "Audie's, where it's Christmas everyday!". Because the Baby born in a manger now lives in my heart it's Christmas everyday! Oh, come let us adore Him! 

Father, how I praise you today and forever that everything you have given me is eternal. Thank you that the party will never end! I will "rejoice in the Lord always"!   

The big gift!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:51 PM

"God so loved the world that He gave His Son"

John 3:16a

This is the day that we celebrate Christmas or the mass of Christ. Today we rejoice in the truth that God's love for us was greater than our rebellion against Him. He proved His love by sending His Son to earth as a baby that would grow up to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, to save us from our sins and their penalty. Surely, this is the biggest gift ever given to anybody! As a boy growing up we had a Christmas tradition that each child was given one "big gift" and then several other "smaller" gifts. The big gift was the big deal! Year number twelve is was a new mini bike for me. I was thrilled! However, we also enjoyed the "smaller" gifts. Our heavenly Father surely gave us the "big gift" in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. But He has also given us many other gifts! What about the gift of His peace in our hearts? "My peace I give unto you, let not your hearts be troubled or afraid." What a gift! A worry free, fear free life in the middle of the chaos we call progress today! Consider the gift of friends. "He places the lonely in a family." How thankful I am for all the great people that He has surrounded me with! Praise His name for the gift of Hope! How fatal life would be if He hadn't infused my heart with the hope and expectation of all of the great things "He has planned for those who love Him"! The list of His gifts is lengthy in scripture. Joy, protection, abundant provision, healing, forgiveness, laughter, family, fishing, banana pudding! What a gracious God He is! Most generous person I know! Today we celebrate the "big gift" of His dear Son, but we also rejoice in all of the other gifts that He has blessed us with!  

Father, we bow today to say thank you for the greatest gift ever given, your Son. We also praise you for the many other kindnesses you show us every day. All the praise be unto you for your great heart toward us.

From all of us gathered hear at the Biggers house celebrating today we wish you a blessed and joyful Christmas! From, Brian, Kay, Whit, Jon, Em, Collin, Moose, Kalen and Baxter (her dog), may your hearts rejoice as you remember God's great love for you and yours!

If you're not stunned, its not grace

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:50 PM

"He fell on his face at Jesus' feet hollering thank you for what you did for me!"

Luke 17:16

Just one of the many places in the Bible where people were overwhelmed by what God had done for them and expressed their gratitude with great emotion. Its called grace. Grace is the great word in the Bible. Grace is anytime that the God of the universe does something for me that I don't deserve, could never earn and can never pay Him back for. Grace is what He does because of who He is and not because of who I am or am not. Grace is when He takes a foul mouthed arrogant criminal and forgives him of all of his sins, makes him His friend, gives him a beautiful wife, a great family, a cool bright red bass boat, and them lets him make a living hollering about how great this God is! All through the Bible people were stunned by His unexpected kindness and benevolence toward them. In scripture He is lavish with His grace toward people. The Bible is a book about what God did for people. It's a book about a God of grace. Today religion has taken the amazing, stunning, shocking, surprising grace of God and reduced it down to a very understandable, explainable, boring grace. If you will change your ways (even if you don't want to) and behave and stop sinning and attend church and not go to sleep during the service (good luck), and stop cussing and give money and stop listening to country music, God might let you into heaven. Nothing amazing about that grace. At all. Religion is about what you do to try to earn a relationship with a stern deity. Grace is about what the all powerful God of this universe will do to be in a Father child relationship with you. If He were to murder His perfect Son in  agony and shame at the hands of demon possessed men so He could be good to you would you not call that stunning? If you're not shocked its not grace.  Merry Christmas! Somebody should write a song about this amazing grace.  

God of glory, who am I that you would show me such great kindness? I am surprised that you let me live after I cursed you so often years ago. I am amazed by your continued generosity to me through the years. I am stunned that you killed an innocent man in such a cruel way so that I could have a chance to live as your son. But, I am shocked to find out who that man was to you. Please don't ever let grace stop being amazing to me.

Staying focused

Posted by Brandon Patton on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 12:50 PM

"You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."

Matthew 23:24

Nit picking was and is one of the things that Jesus can not stand! In this passage He goes off on ministers who spend their time majoring on minors. They would blast you for the smallest missteps but neglected to care for people in the big issues. It is one of our enemies most successful strategies. He constantly sidetracks us by keeping us tied up with petty issues. Christian news headlines today began with "Is it acceptable for Christian radio to play secular songs at Christmas"? Since we're talking about gnats let me ask, "who gives a flying gnat's rear end"? Young girls being trafficked, homes being torn apart, heroin addiction soaring again and you want to discuss the morality of playing Frosty the snowman? Get you an eternal life! How much of our limited time, energy and resources do we waste on issues that don't really have any eternal value? Our Savior was a master at staying focused on the big matters that made the most difference in people's lives. When people tried to draw Him into what the Bible calls "useless discussions" or fruitless activities He simply walked off and  continued with His life changing mission. Recently a congressman from Ohio who had been convicted of a federal crime was asked by a reporter about his parking spot at the congressional office building. His response was classic. He said, "I have an alligator chewing on my rear end and you want to bother me about a gnat on my nose"?! To live productive lives that make a difference in this world it is important to take a hard look at our priorities and ask ourselves "am I investing my time and heart in efforts that will have an impact for good in people's lives or am I wasting my life playing trivial pursuit? We have one life. One. Lets make it count!   

Father, I don't want to fritter away my life on things that make no difference to anybody. By your Spirit keep me focused on your mission which is to heal a broken world. Knit my heart to my assignment in your great plan of redemption. Like your Son, "I must be about my Father's business".

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!

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